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Dipstick, dropkick, dope

Posted by Lotg on July 05, 2004

In a recent conversation with my French friend Michel, he said something that made me laugh, and to which I responded that he was a 'dipstick'. He asked for a translation of 'dipstick', but included that he thought it might have meant 'fool, idiot or stupid'.

I said, no those words are too strong. Dipstick is much softer, more affectionate, a term of endearment suggesting you're a bit of a dope, silly, funny in a dopey way.

He came back and said he could think of no equivalent in French. That there were no soft words, or terms of endearment to that effect. That hadn't occurred to me. Michel also said that he felt English was full of nuances, and again I'm surprised, because surely that's also true of other languages?

I suppose I just assumed there'd have to be words in every language to describe every emotion. But it hadn't occurred to me that maybe not every culture shares the same range of emotions. It's very hard for me to imagine that emotions (and therefore the words to describe them) can be driven by a culture to the point where some emotions may not exist at all. But maybe they are.

I might add, that I now think this isn't just something that varies with other languages. Even within English, I suppose there are different nuances. eg. In some earlier threads, we've discussed words and terms that are politically incorrect in some countries and not others.

So can anyone suggest any words that belong to their culture for which there is no equivalent in English? Ummm - having said that, how the hell will I understand - chuckle! So maybe I should ask if anyone can suggest any other English words, for which there's no equivalent in other languages.