Posts Tagged ‘English’

A scene of modern Britain

June 25, 2016


Via Ishaan Tharoor on Twitter.

Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist.


Can we recognize feelings we cannot name?

May 13, 2013

Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Guardian some years back, cited words for emotions without English equivalents, and raised the question of whether we can recognize feelings we cannot name.

The Danish word “hygge” (pronounced, very approximately, “hooga”) means something like “cosiness”, but with undertones of “camaraderie” and “well-being”.  Denmark’s tourist industry likes to suggest that it’s untranslatable and unexportable: the only way to feel it is to hop on a plane to Copenhagen. … …

Hard-to-translate emotions aren’t always positive, of course: the Portuguese “saudades” refers to a particular kind of longing, and the Korean “han” is a form of collectively felt resentment in the face of injustice, blended with lamentation.

But the sense of cosiness embodied by “hygge” is especially interesting because something like it occurs again and again in non-English languages: German “Gemütlichkeit” is similar, as is Czech “pohoda” and Dutch “gezelligheid”.  There is, it seems, significant demand for this kind of friendly, secure, usually home-based warmth.

I’ve never really seen the appeal of cosiness of the English variety, because it seems so passive and lazy: apparently, I’m just not the sort to enjoy dragging the duvet to the sofa, making a cup of hot chocolate and bingeing on old episodes of ER.

But hygge, a Danish friend explains, “is a conscious activity. ‘Let’s go to my house and cosy’ – it doesn’t make sense in English.  But hygge is a verb as well as an adjective.  It’s something you do.”

That’s more like it: not vegging out, but actively weaving the fabric of friendship and ease. There ought to be a word for it.

Click on Are some emotions untranslatable?  to read Burkeman’s entire column.

Click on 21 emotions that are unspeakable (in English) for more untranslatable foreign words.

21 emotions that are unspeakable (in English)

May 12, 2013

Double click to enlarge

Pei-Ying Lin, a student at the Royal College of Art, drew a map of the emotions based on a standard work, W. Gerrold Parrott’s Emotional Classification, and then located 21 emotions without English names on the chart.

Cllck on The Unspeakableness for Pei-Ying Lin’s home page.

Click on The Untranslatable Words Database to see the 21 untranslatable emotions without the larger chart.

hat tip to how to save the world.