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How to Translate the Word Hoarder in Other Languages





Sometimes you hear a word in your native language and then you suddenly realize that you don't know or have never heard that word or expression used in your foreign language. Often you are not even aware of this lexical gap in your vocabulary. A useful exercise is to go on a vocabulary exploration or hunt - as described by Anthony Lauder in his four-part series The Spiral Method of Language Learning

For example, while watching a popular American television show, I realized that I didn't know how the word "hoarder" or "hoarding" was translated in some of my languages. Pathological or compulsive hoarding, also known as Diogenes syndrome, is a specific type of behavior characterized by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others (e.g. papers, notes, flyers, newspapers, clothes) and severe cluttering of the person's home so that it is no longer able to function as a viable living space. But how is this idea expressed in other languages? I decided to do some research.

One of the terms used for hoarder in Spanish is "acaparador(a)" and hoarding is "acaparamiento" as in the "acaparamiento de bienes" (hoarding of possessions). While native Spanish speakers concur that this is the term used to refer to hoarding, the term is also used to describe monopolizing the sale of a good or product or just simply stockpiling. As a result, many speakers feel that you need to make the term more specific and say “acaparamiento obsesivo/compulsivo” (obsessive/compulsive hoarding). Italian also uses the similar “accaparratore (m)” and “accaparratrice (f)” to refer to a hoarder.

The French seem to use the word "amasseur" or, similar to Spanish, the word "accaparer", with a hoarder being referred to as "celui qui amasse" or "one who hoards". One of the translations suggested for Portuguese was "catador", but this refers more to a scavenger and I'm not sure if it adequately conveys the concept of "hoarding".

By far my favorite is the German term “Messies” and the corresponding “Messie-Syndrom”.
Germans also use the word “hamstern” and “anhäufen” as well as the term “Vermüllungssyndrom”. Here is a YouTube video from a German TV show featuring someone with Messie-Syndrom:













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