Wednesday, January 15, 2014


This morning's weather got me to thinking about language. In every language there are some words and phrases that have no equivalent in other languages. I believe that the Latvian word "drēgns" is one such term. The temperature was on the cool side, but the humidity and grayness added a certain discomfort and bone-chilling aspect to the day. In Latvian, a day like this is called "drēgns," and I do not know of an English language equivalent. Indeed, if one looks the word up in the dictionary, the definition is "cool and humid." How awesome that we have one word that does the work of two!

Drēgns! Photo by Panagiotis Lianos. (Source)

Another such word that I love is "bezgaiss," which is another descriptive word - this one for (typically) a room that lacks air circulation. It is particularly apt for use during a hot Latvian summer when one is stuck in an old Latvian building that not only lacks air conditioning, but also seems to lack any air circulation whatsoever. The term can also be used to described a hot, stuffy day with no breeze, when the air and heat just seem to sit and envelop you.

What are you favorite Latvian words that have no equivalent?

1 comment:

  1. Daina!
    Mums šādi vārdi, kā "drēgns" un "bezgaiss" vietējā leksikā iegājuši, jo tik bieži saskaramies ar šādu parādību. Tik daudzās, drēgnās rudens dienas! Un tik bieži pamatskolas un vidusskolas izlaidumos pieredzētais "bezgaiss" skolu aktu zālēs, kuru dēļ regulāri kāds noģībst. Tāpat kā eskimosiem ir vairāk nekā 100 veidi kā nosaukt sniegu, tā mums ir apzīmējumi parādībām, kas tik bieži sastopamas Latvijā!


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