A word a day: épuisée

Fragile looking leafs, for a gloomy setting.

As a native Portuguese speaker who is fluent in both English and French, I can honestly say that there are some things — words, expressions, tones of voice — there are completely untranslatable.

I mean, we can adapt them and stuff but they will always be an inch short in emotion and intention from their original state.

I have worked in Translation (literary works, mostly) and this is something that simultaneously worries me and fascinates me: it worries me because I am afraid I might not live up to the author’s intended message, and fascinates me because I often feel like I am part of a special club, since my linguistic skills allow me to ‘read between the lines’.

Since this is such a good feeling and since I am all about the sharing of knowledge, I decided that I will dedicate some of my articles here on Medium to the explaining of some words and idiomatic expressions that I find particularly funny and/or beautiful.

I am gonna kick start this linguistic adventure with a very interesting French word:


‘Épuisée’ can mean a lot of things: it can mean that something is out of stock — like a book that is out of print, for instance —, but it can also mean exhausted.

But not exhausted like ‘I need to sleep more’. It’s a much more serious state of fatigue, more like being emptied of one’s self:

I am WAY too literal, right?

I find it a beautiful and meaningful word, since it contains in its syllables the reflection of a deep discomfort, an uneasiness that lets you feeling weak and vulnerable — emotionally speaking.

A few other meaning of this word, when combined with some other elements, might be: to devoid of content, to burden someone to a breaking point, to annoy someone with never ending questions, to exhaust one’s point in an argument…

What I find curious about this word is that it can be applied to very objective scenarios, but it can also be used to define an emotional state. At least that’s how I see it, which is why I look at translation as such a serious occupation: we have to be careful to be linguistically accurate, but we have also to account for the emotional value of words!

And that’s all for today. Until we meet again!

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