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Irena 1
Those are wonderful. I came across a similar list years ago and one of the words stuck: mbuki-mvuki, which is Bantu for "to take off one's clothes in order to dance". My boyfriend and I still use this word regularly.

I've often wondered if there's a word out there in some other language that describes a feeling I often get, which is that better-than-relief feeling you get when something lost has been found or someone sick has been cured, and the return to your normal, mundane life is cause for elation.
Posted by Irena on December 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM · Report this
I love schadenfreude. Hands down, my favorite (although I note that they are starting to use it on the news). Why doesn't English have more of this nuanced words that act as phrases.

Also simpatico. It means likable or pleasing in Italian/Spanish but really it's a greater feeling of "I get you" or "you're nice and we click." Not the same as nice.

Irena, I think you are thinking of gratitude but there's probably a better word in another language.
Posted by westello on December 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM · Report this
Not to be a Korinthenkacker, but 'lacking an exact one-word equivalent' does not mean a concept is untranslatable...
Posted by FeralTurnip on December 14, 2011 at 3:32 PM · Report this
pg13 4
The awesome thing about English is that we can just use all of these words (but, if typing them, we need to italicize them, I guess...)

Pity the French who have to get government approval in order to describe in newly made up, but officially proper French words, what "podcast" already perfectly describes.

(The officially designated French replacement for podcast is: diffusion pour baladeur. And I'm sure that'll catch on. Eh, c'est la vie...)
Posted by pg13 on December 14, 2011 at 3:36 PM · Report this
@4, the French Academy's opinions are advisory, not binding.
Posted by gloomy gus on December 14, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
pg13 6
Oh, trust me, the French will surrender, Gus...they will.
Posted by pg13 on December 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM · Report this
Irena 7
@2, yes, gratitude is close, but it often implies gratefulness for something extra, like kindness or a gift. The feeling I'm talking about is more specific than that. It's relief from pain or anxiety mixed with joy over something previously taken for granted.

@3, I agree, but summing up a complex set of criteria into a single word makes it easier to communicate and remember, which gives it more cultural impact. "Tatamae" sounds like a pretty valuable concept, and one that another culture might need an entire novel to sum up -- which not everyone will read.

I wish we had more words for the notions behind soul, spirit, sacred, etc., that were free from religious connotations. I'm curious about how old languages represented such things.
Posted by Irena on December 14, 2011 at 5:10 PM · Report this
rob! 8
@3, being somewhat anal-retentive, I'll provide the jump to follow your ellipsis.
Posted by rob! on December 14, 2011 at 5:54 PM · Report this
Also this book for kids large and small, in the spirit of lovely words. Very fun.
Posted by pffft on December 14, 2011 at 9:10 PM · Report this
"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
--James D. Nicoll
Posted by SLCamper on December 14, 2011 at 11:22 PM · Report this
djx 13
Great article on litost and dopamine withdrawl here:…
Posted by djx on December 15, 2011 at 10:44 AM · Report this

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