Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, I though I’d dedicate a post to Cupid and his well-aimed (well…sometimes) arrows. Before I moved to Japan, I confess that my opinion of Valentine’s Day had flat-lined at “meh”…now, though, it just means that my desk disappears under a mountain of homemade chocolates, cookies, and other deliciously unhealthy sweets from my students. It’s a pretty good development all around.
I’ve written about how much I love untranslatable words in the past; the fact that a feeling is familiar to people across cultures and continents and yet is only expressed in a certain language is fascinating to me. On Valentine’s Day, emotions run a headier, more dramatic spectrum than most other days of the year, and there are plenty of foreign language words to describe all of those feelings. Here are fourteen of my favorite untranslatable words that have to do with love in some way or another. Some are about the euphoria of falling of love, some are about the depths of heartbreak, but most are feelings that, I’m willing to bet, we’ve felt at one time or another.
1.) Forelsket (Norwegian) – Let’s start off with something positive. Forelsket describes how you feel when you first begin to fall in love. It’s that euphoric feeling of walking on air, when you view your paramour through rose-colored glasses and are convinced that the sun shines out of their posterior. All you want to do is gaze into each other’s eyes longingly and forget the rest of the world exists.
Continue reading 14 Untranslatable Words About Love
The original version of this post appears on http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/the-beauty-of-untranslatable-words/.
I have been obsessed with language, both my native one and otherwise, ever since I learned to read. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, and in the past ten years, I’ve studied two languages, German and Japanese, in-depth, while delving into two others, Arabic and Spanish, for shorter, less dedicated stints. Now, I make a living out of trying to explain the labyrinth of the English language to Japanese high school students. I like words, to put it plainly. Continue reading The Beauty of Untranslatable Words
When I started learning German in high school, I, like so many others who have delved into the language of the Vaterland, encountered scores of people who would make a face and ask me, “Why would you want to learn German? It’s just such an…ugly language. Everything sounds so mean.” Continue reading Why I Love the German Language
One of the (few) things that I dislike about living in Japan is that I’m not really afforded any opportunities to keep up with my German. It’s easy enough to keep my comprehension skills sharp. I can read German books and often watch my favorite television shows in German. (Though since those materials are the Harry Potter books and The Vampire Diaries, Angel, and Battlestar Galactica, respectively, the vocabulary skill set that gets honed isn’t really the most useful for day-to-day dealings. Knowing the German words for “vervain” and “hallows” won’t really get me far.) It’s my speaking that has really suffered in the past year; in northern Japan, German speakers don’t really abound. Continue reading In Which I Discover a Source to Sustain My German Bread Addiction