Jason at Positive Liberty begs to differ with a group of linguists who have declared that the yiddish word shlimazl is the second-hardest word in the world to translate. (The hardest word is ilunga, from the Congo, meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.”)
Anyhow, Jason writes:
Say what? A ne’er-do-well is someone who’s lazy, not someone who’s chronically luckless. And a jinx is someone who spreads bad luck to those who work with him – not the same thing as being unlucky himself (or herself).
In short, neither word Jason suggests is an adequate translation of Shlimazl. Score one for the linguists, I guess.