The 'untranslatable' emotions you never knew you had

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The 'untranslatable' emotions you never knew you had

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Feb 04, 2017 3:11 am

"Have you ever felt a little mbuki-mvuki – the irresistible urge to “shuck off your clothes as you dance”? Perhaps a little kilig – the jittery fluttering feeling as you talk to someone you fancy? How about uitwaaien – which encapsulates the revitalising effects of taking a walk in the wind?

These words – taken from Bantu, Tagalog, and Dutch – have no direct English equivalent, but they represent very precise emotional experiences that are neglected in our language. And if Tim Lomas at the University of East London has his way, they might soon become much more familiar.

Lomas’s Positive Lexicography Project aims to capture the many flavours of good feelings (some of which are distinctly bittersweet) found across the world, in the hope that we might start to incorporate them all into our daily lives. We have already borrowed many emotion words from other languages, after all – think “frisson”, from French, or “schadenfreude”, from German – but there are many more that have not yet wormed their way into our vocabulary. Lomas has found hundreds of these "untranslatable" experiences so far – and he’s only just begun.

Learning these words, he hopes, will offer us all a richer and more nuanced understanding of ourselves. “They offer a very different way of seeing the world".

Read the full story on the BBC's website.
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Re: The 'untranslatable' emotions you never knew you had

Post by tony h » Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:45 pm

Thanks for posting that. I often wonder whether thought begets the words or vice versa. I like the idea of importing some words, especially if they are inspiring improved humour. What I do wonder is to what extent the words can be imported without their cultural or geographic context.
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Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

End of topic.
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