Quote, ajohnson1980: "how in the world could a word that is hardest to translate be succinct."
You've got it backwards, mate. The fact that it's so succinct is WHY it's so hard to translate. It's a complex concept wrapped up in a single word. In English, it requires an entire sentence to basically explain. One word: succinct. Entire sentence: Not very succinct.
From the word's detailed analysis in Wikipedia, which you quoted, John, perhaps one might translate this as "shared perplexed hesitation", with the context providing the sense of its particular application to sexual or romantic overtures. The succinctness lies in the way a complex situation is expressed in a single word, especially in a word that is not a compound.
“Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is a word from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘most succinct word’, and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It describes ‘a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.’
The word consists of the reflexive/passive prefix ma- (mam- before a vowel), the root ihlapi (pronounced [iɬapi]), which means to be at a loss as what to do next, the stative suffix -n, an achievement suffix -ata, and the dual suffix -apai, which in composition with the reflexive mam- has a reciprocal sense.�?