For in English, I couldn’t find thee.
“Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things which can be said only in English.”
-Arvind Adiga, The White Tiger
English is a funny language; that explains why we park our car on the driveway and drive our car on the parkway. Yet it is the entity which binds all the countries of the world as the sole means of common communication. The beauty of the English language lies in its simplicity.
However, in its simplicity, the English language fails to contain words which would describe complex emotions and therein lays the importance of having a multitude of languages.
There are a whole slew of words in other languages, depriving you of the emotional comfort they provide to their native speakers, by virtue of their mere absence in English.
Here is a list of about fifteen odd words (space for this many!), which in their source language beautifully depict complex emotions and related narrative.
Meaning: Missing a place you’ve never been to. Similar to wanderlust, it’s more of longing/ homesickness for a certain place rather than a longing to travel.
It’s the feeling you have for some places; say, the English countryside (Stratford upon Avon) or a cottage in Florence.
Meaning: Relaxing with a few friends and loved ones while having a meal or some drinks. Similar to “chilling”, it is used to describe the simpler pleasures in life.
This maybe used to describe a quiet hangout spot. Morning chai and Uncle Point breakfasts also count.
Meaning: The feeling of being alone in the woods.
Haven’t you ever been to End Point all by yourself?
Meaning: Time spent in conversation, digesting, relaxing, enjoying after a meal. Certainly not rushing. Not reserved for weekends — though it can be longest on Sundays — even weekday and business meals have sobremesa.
Sunday afternoons spent at Egg Factory!
Meaning: Just the right amount.
A plate of Dollops Chicken Lollipops; though one may argue that they can never get enough of it.
Meaning: Sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others.
Mudita is a foundation stone in Buddhism or for that matter, any system of religion, politic and social welfare.
Meaning: To do something with utmost passion, care and dedication.
As Vincent Van Gogh once said,
“I put my heart and and my soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process”
Meaning: Sunlight filtering through trees.
“He who hath not lost himself in the rays of sunshine in a forest unknown hast not embraced Mother Nature.”
Meaning: A person who does a lot of ‘drama’ and is basically, annoying; with hints of pretentiousness and unaware of their own annoyingness.
Attention! Attention! Attention!
Meaning: awareness of the impermanence of things, and both a transient gentle sadness at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.
A host of Anime is developed upon this theme and has a certain “Ah” ness to them along with a sigh of sadness.
Meaning: A feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.
Much like Bollywood, there is a villain in all our lives, or at least someone who has this feeling of schadenfreude against us.
Meaning: Acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.
In almost all Bengali homes, there is a shelf full of Tagore’s writings which none of the members collectively have read in completion.
Meaning: Describes the feeling a person has for someone he or she once loved.
A sudden gut-wrench would be an accurate description.
15. L’esprit de l’escalier
Meaning: The predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late.
Don’t we all wish for a Wodehousian wit at times!
On a more personal note, coming from a Bengali background, I was never exposed to any other language save English and Bengali. Having to learn a new language (Kannada in my case) from scratch really teaches you the value of language, both of our own, which we oft take for granted and to cherish those not known to us.
As someone once said:
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”