Yesterday I linked to an article on untranslatable words which had a lovely example that clanged a loud bell of recognition.
There were some fantastic words that would arguably make welcome additions to English: who among us hasn’t experienced tsundoku, for example, the Japanese word for “the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books”.
Today I was in Waterstones, just looking round, picking up books, thinking ‘Umm that looks interesting’, when I suddenly clicked my mind into focus. ‘Tsunduko‘ I said to myself. ‘you have several piles of books at home awaiting attention. Any more and you will crowd out your mental space and not pay full attention to what you do read because of the pressure of the unread’.
So I walked away – it was a small moment of positive control.
P.S. The picture is of the books on my desk. It is actually unfair to say they are completely unread. There are books of essays and a book of poems, which have been dipped into , but all of them need further reading.
A couple of days after writing about loanwords for concepts that don’t exist in english I read this article in yesterdays Guardian. It is another example of those tiny threads linking things. First you notice something, then you notice something else.
Lucy Greaves on untranslatable words
Another day of heavy rain and I escaped into a coffee shop. So many wet coats, so much moisture that hits the cold of a single glazed window and then condenses. It creates a nice fug that emphasis the difference between the warmth of inside and the inhospitable weather of the outside.
I wonder what the word is to describe this concept?
The enjoyment in reading Robert Burns insulting his reviewer is the joy we can all sometimes find in someone else’s misfortune. As we do not have a word for this concept in english we have to borrow schadenfreude from german. But what does that say about our culture: are we rather noble in not to having a word for such a low pleasure or are we hypocritical in not wanting to acknowledge a feeling that everybody knows exists? Or, on the other hand, what does it say about us, as a traditionally buttoned up nation (though I do believe that tradition has now faded) that we have to rely on the French for joie de vivre? When words have to be borrowed to precisely describe a concept, it must mean that previously we had not thought the concept important enough to name. Why would that be?
I will leave that hanging whilst I take today’s fleeting pleasure in finding a couple of other words that should be adopted into the language:
Uitwaaien (pronounced out-vye-in) is a Dutch word meaning to take a brief break in the countryside to clear one’s head. Literally it means walking in the wind. Either way it is a word I ave wanted all my life. The concept of walking in a bit of weather to refresh the mind is so common why isn’t their an english equivalent.
Spaegie is a Shetland dialect word for delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS has no poetry whatsoever and should be replaced forthwith.
P.S. The website to go to for such words is: BetterThanEnglish