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June 25, 2004

Was That A Googly?!

The Times reported recently on the most untranslatable words in the world. While none were English, the Japanese word 'naa' - used only in the Kansai region, to emphasize statements or agree with someone - came in at No. 4. Among English words, the most befuddling was agreed to be 'googly,' a cricket term to describe "an off-breaking ball bowled delivered with an apparent leg-break action on the part of the bowler." Others also tended towards particularly British oddities and included spam (as in the tinned meat), gobbledegook, whimsy, bumf, seredipity, poppycock, chuffed and kitsch. And the world's most untranslatable word? 'Ilunga', from the Bantu language, which means "a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time."

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