The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

A lot of foreign words denoting different emotions (such as "gigil", "wabi-sabi", "tarab") have no equivalent in other languages.

Columnist BBC Future is convinced that learning to identify and develop these feelings, you can make your life richer and more successful.

The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

Have you ever feel light-mbuki mvuki - an irresistible urge to throw off his clothes while dancing?

Or, maybe you've experience kilig - trembling excitement that occurs during a conversation with the object of adoration?

What about eytvayen - a sense of freshness and vivacity, which gives a walk in windy conditions?

These words from the Bantu, Tagalog and Dutch languages ​​have no exact equivalent in any English or in Russian, but describe a very specific emotional experiences which, however, are not reflected in our speech.

However, with the light hand of Tim Lomas, an employee of the University of East London (UK), they may enter into use.

As part of its project "Positive lexicography" Lomas seeks to reflect the many different shades of pleasant feelings (some of them clearly felt and bitter notes), familiar to people in different corners of the globe. Lomas hopes to bring them into our daily lives.

The English already includes borrowing from other languages, denoting a range of emotions - for example, the French word for "frisson" (awe) or the German "shadenfroyde" (Schadenfreude) - but a huge number of these words has not leaked into our lexicon.

Lomas has found hundreds of such "untranslatable" sensations - and this is only the very beginning of the path.

The scientist hopes that the study of these words will help us to understand more deeply and accurately themselves: "Thanks to them, offers a completely different view of the world."

The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

Gigil - word of the Tagalog language, indicating an irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze gently in the arms of the subject of his tender feelings

According to Lomas, this project was inspired by a conversation about the concept of the Finnish SISU - is a kind of "extraordinary durability in harsh environments."

As experts say the Finnish language, the word "endurance", "perseverance" and "sustainability" are not able to express the inner strength that is inherent in this state.

Untranslatable word appeared in the sense that it could not find a direct or obvious equivalent in another language to express the deep essence.

Lomas was intrigued, and he began to look for other examples, shoveling scientific works and sticking with questions familiar to all foreigners.

The first results of this project were published last year in the scientific journal "Positive Psychology" (Journal of Positive Psychology).

Many of them prescribed terms refer to very specific positive feelings, which are often due to very special circumstances:

  • dezhbundar (Portuguese) - fun, rejecting any confusion;
  • tarab (Arabic) - inspired by the music, the feeling of ecstasy or enchantment;
  • sinrin-oku (Japanese) - relaxation, achieved thanks to the "forest baths" in the literal and figurative sense;
  • gigil (Tagalog) - an irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze gently in the arms of the subject of his tender feelings;
  • Yuan Bay (China) - a feeling of complete and perfect success;
  • iktsuarpok (Inuit) - looking forward to the other person, making you constantly go out of the house to see if he goes.

But there is in this list, and words denoting more complex experiences - sometimes smack of bitterness:

  • natsukasii (Japanese) - a nostalgic longing for the past, happy memories and sadness from the fact that this happiness is behind us;
  • wabi-sabi (Japanese) - an obscure and sad and sublime experience at the center of which stands a transient and imperfect beauty;
  • saudade (Portuguese) - melancholy longing for a person, place or thing, distant in space or in time, vague dreams of what might be, does not even exist;
  • zenzuht (German) - "yearning for life," a keen desire for another state or way of life, even if they are unattainable.

In addition to these emotions in the dictionary Lomas describes personal characteristics and behaviors that can detect human well-being in the long term and how to interact with other people:

  • dadirri (Australian Aboriginal language) - a deep spiritual experience thoughtful and respectful listening to other people;
  • pihentadu (Hungarian) - the word literally means "to the unstressed, relaxed brain", so called quick-witted people who are able to come up with subtle humor and elegant solution to a complex problem;
  • dezenrashkansu (Portuguese) - deftly extricate himself from a difficult situation;
  • dry (Sanskrit) - a real long-term happiness that does not depend on the circumstances;
  • orenda (Huron) - the power of the human will that can change the world in spite of seemingly insurmountable, fatal circumstances.

You can find many more such examples on the website of the scientist - or add your own. Lomas readily admits that many of the proposed them at the moment of descriptive translation conveys the meaning of these concepts is only approximate.

"The whole project is still at work, and I try to continually refine these descriptions, - he explains -. Of course, I will be very useful comments and suggestions of visitors on this occasion."

Lomas hopes that in the future other psychologists will explore the causes and consequences of such experiences that go beyond the British representations about emotions that currently prevail in the scientific works of his countrymen.

However, the study of such terminology can cause not only of scientific interest. Lomas believes that these words can help people change their own feelings, drawing their attention to the fleeting feelings that have long remained unnoticed.

"In our stream of consciousness - this wave of different sensations, feelings and emotions - so much agitated that a significant portion passes by us" - says Lomas.

"We notice the feelings that have learned to recognize and name, but the mass of the other can not even guess. So I think that if these new words come into our vocabulary, it will help us to express a range of emotions, which we had almost no pay attention. "

The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

The Portuguese fado singers like Cristina Branco, transmit their singing yearning saudade

To confirm his words Lomas leads Lisa Feldman Barrett of Northeastern University (Boston), which showed that the ability to identify and name their emotions can have far-reaching consequences.

To conduct research in this area it prompted this observation: she noticed that although some people use different words for emotions interchangeably, many describe their feelings very accurately. "Some use the word" anxiety "," scary "," outrageous "," repugnant "to refer to a bad mood in general - she explains -. They perceive these words as synonyms Whereas others see different values ​​in them.".

This parameter is called emotional granularity - to measure its value, Barrett usually offers participants every day for a week to evaluate your feelings, and then calculates the deviations and differences in their records: for example, the same as if they value the same old terms.

An important conclusion is that this indicator measures how well a person is adapted to life.

For example, if he is able to articulate that it feels - desperation or anxiety - it is easier to decide how to deal with this feeling: talk to a friend or watch a hilarious movie.

And the ability to find hope, despite the disappointment befell man, can help with new energy to take up the search for a way out of the situation.

The names of emotions, without equivalent in other languages

Wabi-sabi - is, for example, awareness of the fleeting splendor of the cherry blossoms

In this sense, the vocabulary of emotions in something like a directory, where you can find more strategies to exit from difficult situations.

It is not surprising that people with high emotional granularity ability to quickly recover from stress and are less inclined to fill their alcohol troubles.

Moreover, the vocabulary in this area can help improve student achievement.

Research Fellow at Yale University (USA) Mark Brackett found that learning new words denoting emotions, helped the children aged 10-11 years to improve the evaluation year and their behavior in the classroom. "The more emotional the granularity, the more sense a person is able to draw from his inner life" - he says.

And Brackett, and Barrett agreed that "positive lexicography" Lomas may be an incentive to identify more subtle facets of emotional experiences.

"These words and concepts that they represent, can be viewed as tools for building their lives," - says Barrett.

They may even inspire us to try to experience new sensations and look at the old in a new light.

In the future, Lomas intends to conduct studies in this direction. In the meantime, he continues to increase his vocabulary, which is already almost a thousand terms.

Scientists recognize that because of all the words most often he has to think about the Japanese concepts such as Wabi-sabi (the most "obscure and sad and sublime experience", which contains an allusion to the transience and imperfection).

"This concept allows us to find beauty in the outdated and imperfect things - he says -. If we saw the world as can be, and life would be treated differently."