For all my fellow Americans who don’t grasp the depth of what Su Cho is pointing out, yes, words and phrases in other languages often carry meanings for which there is no English translation.

I’d had my doubts, but when I began learning Tagalog (Filipino), I discovered that yes, there are concepts for which there simply is no English translation. For instance, “lambing” can mean “affectionate”, but it’s so much more than that. I’d love to give more of a description, but…sorry, if you want a better description, learn Tagalog.

My wife once told me a joke:

What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

Two languages? Bilingual.

One languages? American.

That’s sad, but true. Some think it’s patriotic to only know American (as opposed to English), but that’s only encouraging ignorance. Learn another language, and you’ll suddenly understand why it’s so tragic that a certain demographic discourages doing so.

Written by

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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