A good indication that a word might not be real is that, when you google it, all you can find is websites gathering words that can’t be translated into English. That’s definitely the case with today’s word, but it also raises an interesting question–is there such thing as an untranslatable word?
Certainly, we can’t translate iktsuarpok in a single word. We don’t have an equivalent in English. But we certainly have words for the experience; they’re what I use to define it below. The trouble with translation, of course, is that you can never be quite certain that you’ve accurately captured whatever it is. Language is more than just a concrete representation of a thing or abstract idea; there’s connotation and context and tone and all these other things that contribute to our understanding of a word.
To be honest, I know very little about translation other than that I’m forever interested in the way words do and don’t fit together when changing from one language to another. This ongoing question I run into about what is or isn’t a real world is as interesting to me as the words themselves.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(n.) From Inuktitut ᐃᒃᑦᓱᐊᕐᐳᒃ, “goes outside often to check if someone is coming”
The feeling of anticipation that somebody is coming, including going outside to check that they aren’t there.
The traps are laid, buried beneath inches of fresh fallen snow. Six of them, one in front of each window and two in front of the door.
She inches her trembling fingers between the curtains and peers between them. It’s still light yet; it’ll be hours before they come, their slavering jaws slack to their chests, their foul breath hanging heavy in the winter air.
Still, she can’t tear her eyes away. There is only enough food for another week, but to leave her cabin is to die—or worse—at their hands. She waits. It’s all she can do.