Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ilunga is a relatively common personal name in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In June 2004, it was reported as being the world's most difficult word to translate. This claim was made by a British translation company, Today Translations, based on its survey of 1,000 linguists. According to Jurga Zilinskiene (head of Today Translations), the difficulty in translating the words picked out by the survey is not finding the meaning of these words, but rather conveying their cultural connotations and overtones.
Ilunga, described as a word from the Bantu language of Tshiluba, was said to mean "a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time". However, there is no independent evidence that the word actually means what the translation company claims. When asked for confirmation by one reporter, representatives of the Congo government recognized the word only as a personal name. Furthermore, the translation company failed to respond to inquiries regarding the survey, made by the same reporter.
Ilunga as a family name
- Bendele Ilunga , boxer, Belgium
- Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, basketball, Congo, joined Dallas Mavericks in July 2004
- Dorah Ilunga Kabulu , female, politician, Belgium
- Enock Ilunga , painter, Zambia
- Ferousi Ilunga , boxer, Congo
- Ilunga A. Kalonzo Ilunga , politician, Congo
- Ilunga Katele , traditional culture hero, royal ancestor of the Chokwe people
- Martin-Léonard Bakole wa Ilunga (deceased), Catholic archbishop, Congo
Tshiluba is a language only spoken in south-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- MacIntyre, Ben. Why do Koreans say "a biscuit would be nice" instead of "I want a biscuit"?, The Times, August 21, 2004.
- BBC News: Congo word "most untranslatable"
- Today Translations -- with the survey result
- Ilunga as a family name:
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