Staying Stylish in Suburbia

We need a word for that...

Monday, September 9, 2013


I love language. I love the way it sounds dancing off the tip of the tongue, the dips and turns it takes depending on the speaker. I love the accents and hand motions that go along with language, the facial expressions and physicality that add to the layered meanings behind a single word or sentence. I love the interplay between inflection and tone, the power behind a shout and the secrecy of a whisper. I love written language too. Reading a sentence that encapsulates a certain sentiment beautifully or working with the placement of words to transform a blank page into poetry.

I also love the challenge of getting around the limitations of language (English in particular). There is a certain level of joy that comes from finding the perfect combination of words to explain something that hasn't been designated a single term.

On the other hand I can certainly appreciate how other languages have unburdened themselves by creating specific terms to explain something that is untranslatable in English. Haven't you ever wished you had a single word to describe something that has been left out of our language? For example, I want a word to describe the moment when a full on verbal argument or fight erupts into heavy laughter. You know what I'm talking about, right?! That moment when things get so heated that they turn absurd. You look at your sparring partner filled with such flustered anger that you end up saying something utterly off the wall, ridiculous. That starts them giggling and in turn transforms your fury into howling, hysterical belly laughs. Yea. I think we need a word for that!

Here are a few more wonderful examples inspired by the Maptia blog of untranslatable words taken from other languages. What do you think we need a word for???

Scottish

TARTLE- The act of hesitating when introducing someone because you've forgotten their name

Japanese

KOMOREBI- Sunlight through the trees- the interplay between light and leaves.

Yagan (Tiera del Fuego) 

MAMILHLAPINATAPEI- The wordless yet meaningful stare between two people who desire to initiate something but are too hesitant to start.

Spanish (From Spain) 

DUENDE- Regarded by many as the hardest word to translate in Spanish, it loosely means to have soul. Federico Garcia Lorca described it as: irrationality, earthiness, a hightened awareness of death, and a dash of the diabolical. It is what gives you chills, makes you cry, smile or feel deeply connected to something, art and flamenco in particular. 

Czech

LITOST- A state of agony or torment created by the sight of ones own misery. 

German

WADEINSAMKEIT- The feeling of being alone in the woods.



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