Author Topic: 10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had  (Read 657 times)

[Buddie]

I found this article online and I thought instead of just linking to it, for your convenience, I'd post part of it here. It seems there are words in other societies for emotions we may have felt, but don't have an exact word for - and for that reason, may not be able to conceptualize at all. Very interesting. Here are 10 examples from that article:

Amae: To be an adult, particularly in a nation like the United States, is to be self-sufficient. Yet there is something very nice, in an indulgent kind of way, about letting someone else handle things for you every once in a while. The Japanese word amae, as Smith defines it, means “leaning on another person’s goodwill,” a feeling of deep trust that allows a relationship — with your partner, with your parent, even with yourself — to flourish. Or, as the Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi has put it, it’s “an emotion that takes the other person’s love for granted.” It’s a childish kind of love, in other words, as evidenced by an alternate translation of the word: “behaving like a spoiled child.”

L’appel du vide: You’re waiting for the train when an inexplicable thought flashes into your mind: What if you jumped off the platform? Or perhaps you’re driving up some precarious mountain pass, when you feel strangely moved to jerk your steering wheel to the right and sail clear off the road. American psychologists in 2012 published a paper in which this feeling was dubbed the “high place phenomenon” (and their study suggested, by the way, that its presence does not necessarily signal suicidal ideation), but the French term for the phenomenon is much more alluring, as French words so often are: l’appel du vide, or “the call of the void.” As the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once observed, the emotion is so unsettling because of the way it “creates an unnerving, shaky sensation of not being able to trust one’s own instincts.” It’s a reminder, then, to perhaps not always let your emotions rule your behavior.

Awumbuk: It’s a funny thing about house guests. While they’re in your home and you’re tripping over the extra shoes and suitcases that are suddenly littered about your living room, you start dreaming about how nice it will be when they leave. Yet, after they do, your place often feels too empty. To the Baining people of Papua New Guinea, Smith writes, this feeling is so prevalent that it gets a name all to itself: awumbuk, or the feeling of “emptiness after visitors depart.” There is, luckily, a way of ridding the home of this rather melancholy feeling: Smith writes that “once their guests have left, the Baining fill a bowl with water and leave it overnight to absorb the festering air. The next day, the family rises very early and ceremonially flings the water into the trees, whereupon ordinary life resumes.” That’s one way to do it.

Brabant: In 1984, author Douglas Adams and TV comedy producer John Lloyd paired up to publish a book called The Deeper Meaning of Liff: A Dictionary of Things There Aren’t Any Words for Yet–But There Ought to Be. Smith apparently agreed with these two on at least this: that there should be a word for the fun of pushing someone’s buttons, to see how much you can tease them until they snap. Adams and Lloyd defined the word as the feeling you get when you are “very much inclined to see how far you can push someone.” (To my mind, an alternate definition might be “having a younger brother or younger sister.”)

Depaysement: People do some out-of-character things in foreign countries. They strike up conversations with strangers in bars, even if they would never do the same back home. They wear unflattering hats. There’s something about being a stranger in a strange land that’s equal parts exhilarating and disorienting, and this messy mix of feelings is what the French word depaysement — literally, decountrification, or being without a country — means to capture. It’s “the feeling of being an outsider,” and though getting lost because you can’t quite read the street signs as well as you maybe thought you could can be unsettling, the feeling of being somewhere else just as often “swirls us up into a kind of giddiness, only ever felt when far away from home.”

Ilinx: There exists a GIF of a fluffy white cat that speaks directly to my soul. In it, the cat is perched atop a desk, and as its human places various objects near its paws — a lighter, a glasses case, a wallet — it pushes each item off the desk and onto the floor. You might say the animal is expressing ilinx, a French word for “the ‘strange excitement’ of wanton destruction,” as Smith describes it, borrowing her phrasing from sociologist Roger Caillois. “Callois traced ilinx back to the practices of ancient mystics who by whirling and dancing hoped to induce rapturous trance states and glimpse alternative realities,” Smith writes. “Today, even succumbing to the urge to create a minor chaos by kicking over the office recycling bin should give you a mild hit.”

Kaukokaipuu: People of, say, Irish descent who have never actually been to the country of their ancestry may still experience an unexpected ache for it, as if they miss it — a strange, contradictory sort of feeling, as you can’t really miss someplace you’ve never been. But the Finnish recognize that the emotion exists, and they gave it a name: kaukokaipuu, a feeling of homesickness for a place you’ve never visited. It can also mean a kind of highly specified version of wanderlust, a “craving for a distant land” — dreaming from your desk about some far-off place like New Zealand, or the Hawaiian Islands, or Machu Picchu, with an intensity that feels almost like homesickness.

Malu: You’d like to think you are a person of average conversational and social skills, and yet this all evaporates the moment you find yourself sharing an elevator with the CEO of your company. The Dusun Baguk people of Indonesia know how you feel. Specifically, Smith writes that they would call this feeling malu, “the sudden experience of feeling constricted, inferior and awkward around people of higher status.” Instead of this being something to be embarrassed about, however, Smith’s research has shown that in this particular culture it’s considered an entirely appropriate response; it’s even a sign of good manners. Something to remember the next time your mind goes blank when your boss asks you a question: You are only being polite.

Pronoia: At one point in J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, Seymour Glass muses about himself, “Oh, God, if I’m anything by a clinical name, I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” About three decades later, sociologist Fred Goldner came up with a name for this: pronoia, the opposite of paranoia. Instead of the fear that you are at the center of some diabolical lot, pronoia, as Smith describes it, is the “strange, creeping feeling that everyone’s out to help you.” And, hey, just because you’re pronoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to help you.

Torschlusspanik: Life is passing you by. The deadline’s approaching. The train’s a-comin’. Literally translated from German, torschlusspanik means “gate-closing panic,” a word to summarize that fretful sensation of time running out. It may serve you well, when experiencing this panicky emotion, to hesitate before allowing it to spur you toward impulsivity, and call to mind the German idiom Torschlusspanik ist ein schlechter Ratgeber — that is, “Torschlusspanik is a bad adviser.”


Can you think of any other examples of feelings or emotions for which there is no word in English,
but for which there is a word in some other language?
Or perhaps an emotion for which there is no word in any language, but for which we need a word?
Go ahead and post it below.
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: 10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 04:53:10 am »
Thanks for posting.  I've experienced them all.  So interesting these are recognized enough in other cultures to be named.  Makes me feel human and not so alone that I experience them too.  :thumbsup:
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: 10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2019, 05:38:18 am »
The examples you posted are fascinating, red. I'll click on the link when I have a minute. Here's a discussion of schadenfreude (malicious joy), which was a new word to me about two years ago. Apparently English DOES have an equivalent word. Anyhow, here's a discussion:

"Occasionally, I come across a word that’s so rare and mysterious that it’s a struggle to find out anything about it.

This one turned up in an article in the Observer on 10 August by Lauren Laverne, who was looking for a word “for the mistaken belief that there is no English equivalent for a non-English word”. She noted Schadenfreude as an example of such a word, the pleasure that one derives from another person’s misfortune, which is from German Schaden, harm, and Freude, joy. She said an English equivalent does exist — epicaricacy. It does?

I tracked it down in Insulting English, by Peter Novobatzky and Ammon Shea, dated 2001. They say that it’s from Greek epi, upon, plus chara, joy, and kakon, evil. It’s recorded in several old works, including Nathan Bailey’s An Universal Etymological English Dictionary of 1721, though in the spelling epicharikaky. It is recorded even earlier in the original Greek spelling in Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy of 1621. It was familiar to him and to other Greek scholars because Aristotle used it."

[...]
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.

[Buddie]

Re: 10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2019, 06:52:36 am »
I always thought we had a word for Schadenfreude in the English language: sadism.
But I guess that's a bit too broad. Epicaricacy, is it?
Let's just declare Schadenfreude to be an English word and move on,
because I will never be able to remember that other one. It's bound to come out as
epicurian or some such thing.

 ;D
Suggestions, opinions and/or advice provided by the author of this post should not be regarded as medical advice; nor should it substitute for professional medical care. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication. Please read our Community Policy Documents board for further information.