Translation is an inexact craft. Some words born in one culture lack close equivalents in another. Schadenfreude (pleasure at another’s misfortune) and déjà vu (a sense of having been here before) entered the English tongue because nothing else says it so well.
Ability to describe your emotions more precisely than “glad,” “mad,” or “sad” may improve your physical health. If English doesn’t have the exact word for what you feel, why not look further? The examples below are from Dr. Tim Lomas’s long and growing list. What favorites can you add? What sensation do you wish you had a word for?
2/19/2019 05:57:07 pm
Dolce far niente - sweetness/joy of doing nothing (Italian). See: https://bemorewithless.com/how-to-cultivate-dolce-far-niente/
Susan, what a wonderful term! And I loved the movie clip. Do you think we might take more joy in the times of doing nothing - less need to prove we'd earned them - if we adopted the Italian phrase into English? I just looked up synonyms for "idleness" and they are all so negative.
2/21/2019 10:39:32 am
I recall a time when I was away from my significant other and I was *not okay*. My one thought at the time was the paucity of the english language to express what I was feeling. In spanish, "echar de menos" is translated as "to feel the absence", but even that wasn't sufficient to express my emotional state. I wasn't okay, and not having a word or phrase to express it made it worse.
Thank you, K.J. The Spanish comes closer than anything I can think of in English. I wonder if any language has a term that really grasps it. As you say, not having a name for it makes it worse. Flip side of being able to name feelings precisely can help.
Leave a Reply.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.