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SIX WORD » LIFE

Favorite part of culture: linguistic nuance.

by illuminatrix on September 20, 2013   |  FacebooktwitterTumblr


Just one example of a non-English word that captures so much in a single word or morpheme, 'Toska', a Russian word.

Vladmir Nabokov described it thusly: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

Another example, 'Yappari' in Japanese. It basically means something like, 'well, damn, I'm not surprised that happened,' or 'that was bound to happen,' or 'Murphy's Law in effect,' or 'lo and behold,' or 'I thought so.'

I want to make a conscious effort to populate English with more words like this. I don't care if it's only among my friends, that'll do. I've always been fascinated with both the unquantifiable and the untranslatable. The living mysteries of the world.

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