Have you ever been stumped for a single word to describe something? You find you can write a phrase or a sentence, but the English language is strangely deficient in providing you with the exact sentiment in one word? Well a recent article in the Journal of Positive Psychology by Tim Lomas may come to your aid. In this he records over 200 words from other languages for which we have no equivalent in English.
For example, how many times have you wanted to describe those wonderful plans you come up with whilst drunk? Check out the German – Schnapsidee!
Or you want to describe that lovely feeling you have when you’ve dined with friends, the food has all been eaten, but the conversation is still flowing. The Spanish have just the word – sobremesa.
Or you want to tell people that you got up early this morning to listen to the dawn chorus? How about gogotta (Swedish)?
True, there are some words in the article that you may feel you will never have the need for. Fargin, perhaps – a Yiddish word indicating how you take pride in the success of others. Or mbuki-mvuki, a Bantu word describing the act of shedding ones clothes to dance wildly (though some people may think we should try this more often).
I have two favourites – the Japanese word Seijaku, meaning serenity in the midst of chaos, and Kreng-jai, the Thai word that Tim Lomas translates as not wanting to trouble other people with your burdens. A fitting sentiment for a Buddhist nation that cheerfully decorates dinosaur sculptures with father Christmases in December!
Makes you want to gigil doesn’t it? (A word from the Philippines to describe when you want to squeeze or pinch someone because they are loved).