As far as I can figure, there isnt an exact translation for the word excited in Italian. Theres agitata but thats more like agitated, restless, fidgety, upset. People use contenta, but thats more like content and happy. My Italian/English dictionary says eccitare means to excite, and eccitazione means excitement, but those arent really words that are used, and theres still no excited.
This sort of thing, where a specific word doesnt exist in a particular language, is called a lexical gap or, if youre a serious linguist, a lacuna.
Turns out, this particular lexical gap, which has been frustrating me a lot lately when I want to say Im excited that Im spending next week in Sicily or Im excited that I might get to go to Switzerland or Im excited that my cousin is coming to visit me on her spring break, is far less severe than many others.
There are many words that one language has that others have to explain in different ways. There is no Romanian word for shallow, so they have to say ape puţin adânci which means not so deep waters. In Spanish you dont have fingers and toes you have los dedos de manos y pies which, I think, translates literally into digits of the hands and feet. Its saying the same thing in the end, but theres no precise word so its more like a little description.
English lacks a plural form of you, (Italian has one for this. Its voi.) which is why we use phrases like yall or you guys. We, of course, can also just use you assuming people will know what we mean, but the idea of a group of people not including the speaker doesnt have its own word.
Ive noticed that in Italian there also no exact word for what we call homesickness. They just use the word nostalgia, which means the same thing in English.
One that Italian has and English doesnt is mammone. I guess this is because its a very Italian quality. It refers to those who are so crazily attached to their mothers that it almost becomes ridiculous. A mammone is a more extreme version of a Mamas Boy.
Jayus is an Indonesian word referring to jokes so poorly told and pitifully not funny that it is impossible not to laugh. Tartle is a word originating in Scotland that refers to the awful stumbling when trying to introduce someone whos name you dont remember. German schadenfreude is entertainment derived from another persons misfortune.
Dépaysement is a French word that applies to me. It means, very simply, the feeling of being outside of ones home country.
Duende, Spanish, when typed into Google translate means elf, but in old times it referred to a spirit, or elf, that would take over humans and fill them with awe at their surroundings. Now it mostly refers to the way works of art can deeply move people. Yaaburnee is Arabic. It means You bury me, and its an expression of such great affection that you hope you die before the other person because you cant imagine living without them.
Dozywocie is Polish for the idea that the young members of a family will care for the older ones when it becomes necessary. Kokusaijin is Japanese for international people. They often speak foreign languages, but they can also just be very open and friendly.
An Italian one I didnt know until I started researching is ponte. As far as I knew before this just meant bridge but it can also refer to the idea of taking an extra Monday off when a holiday falls on a Tuesday, thus extending the weekend by two whole days.
I think words like these are fascinating. Sometimes they say a great deal about the countries from which they stem and other times they say a great deal about humanity in general.
For me, words like these are the pearls of language learning. I feel like all languages aim at some heart of communication that is understandable to all people, and sometimes it is words like these, with entire feelings behind them, that get the closest.
Chandler West is a Rock Hill High student spending her senior year in Italy. She writes about her adventures abroad each week in The Herald.