Theory says that a word without a one-to-one equivalent in another language is considered a lacuna ; a lexical gap between the meanings of the word, expression, or turn of phrase in the source and the target languages. However, whether a word is truly translatable or untranslatable is debatable, because usually these difficult terms are in fact obscure expressions with a local flavor that cannot be precisely or concisely defined. One of the most challenging words I have come across in my ten years as a translator and editor that has this essence of untranslatability is the Spanish word duende doo-EN-day. What does the word duende mean and why is it so difficult to translate into English? Irish folklore says that such duendes possess a treasure, usually a pot of gold, which a human may take when the duende is not looking. The word duende , however, has a deeper and more interesting meaning.
Grendel’s Laundry List: Lorca, Duende
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The word duende refers to a spirit in Spanish, Portuguese, and Filipino folklore and literally means "ghost" or "goblin" in Spanish. These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'duende. Send us feedback. See more words from the same year. Accessed 6 Jun. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! Working, together.
What is Duende?
Originated from flamenco, the duende is a fundamental concept to truly understand the Spanish art, including the guitar. The duende is usually associated with the flamenco culture, but Lorca defines it as a universal artistic concept. That has Duende! Manuel Torre, a man who had more culture in his veins than anyone I have ever known, on listening to Falla play his own Nocturno del Generalife, said this splendid sentence: —All that has dark sounds has Duende.
Duende or tener duende "to have duende" is a Spanish term for a heightened state of emotion, expression and authenticity , often connected with flamenco. El duende is the spirit of evocation. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.