It’s a universally accepted truth that language influences cultures and vice-versa. And that’s why there are several Spanish words that can't be translated to English, like usted or even friolento. But which English words don’t exist in Spanish?
One of the words that don’t exist in Spanish is ‘deadline’. Surprised? Of course we have ways to express this (fecha límite, for example), but you can’t say it with a single word. The closest thing we have is plazo (term) - for example, if you have to deliver something until Monday, then Monday is your plazo, and in that case it could work as a lousy translation for deadline.
But there’s always something so overtly dramatic about the word deadline, as if it’s implying “you’re dead if you don’t do this”, that we can never quite achieve. Arguably, few words are so elucidative about the striking differences between the Anglo-Saxon world and the Spanish, Mediterranean lifestyle.
Somewhat related, one of the hardest words to translate to Spanish is ‘accountable’. The word that comes closest is responsable (literally, responsible), which doesn’t convey “being accountable (to someone)”. To express the latter, we would have to resort to responder por or rendir cuentas. ‘Accountability’, as a noun, has no better translation than responsabilidad (responsibility).
Other bilingual speakers also claim the word 'reliable' doesn’t have a clear equivalent in Spanish. Of course you can say you’re confident or that you trust a certain thing (tengo confianza en, for example). But if you’re looking for an adjective, e.g. “that website is reliable”, the only option is de confianza, which means you trust it. Not exactly the same thing, is it?
Antonym for Envy
Another word that we don’t have - and perhaps should - it’s a direct antonym for envy. We’re not alone there, since English doesn’t have one either. You can be friendly, loving, caring or loving, have good will: all of these will serve as synonyms according to the situation. Here, German beats us both with “gönnen”.
On a funny note, there's no word for toes. We call our toes “dedos de los pies” or, literally, fingers of the feet. Yes, it’s 4 words instead of 1, but we’re not lying. Toes really are the fingers of feet!
What words do you wish existed in your language? Tell us all about it in the comments below!