I love words. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, knowing that I’m a writer. But I don’t just love them as the tools of my trade, I collect them and cherish them like gem stones. From an early age I have been fascinated with foreign languages, learning them has become a hobby and a passion (I’m on my eighth now :D). I usually don’t care that much about the useful expressions like “Where is the bathroom?” “Give me two apples please.” I want the animals, the flowers, the poetry.
Things like the fact that in Korean you call a walrus “ocean elephant” make me incredibly happy. (Everybody their little pleasures in life, right?)
I like the untranslatable words because it is always fascinating to see what are the concepts some languages felt the need to invent a special word, or the layers of meaning that are irredeemably lost in translation.
For example, a Hungarian word I like a lot is “derű.” (I tried to explain the pronunciation but my mind drew a blank.) It is a soft joy, like contentment, serenity. The dictionary always gives you “cheeriness” and “chirpiness” but I find them too harsh for this word. It also has an aspect that means soft sunlight and a clear sunlight, like when the clouds disappear from the sky. (Kiderült az ég.) I like this word because this is the state of mind I aim at these days. I had enough wild up and downs last year, I would like quiet contentment, thank you very much.
I also love the German word “Wolkenkratzer” which means skyscraper. I like it because to me “Wolke” is one of the best words to mean “cloud.” Doesn’t it sound sort of round and fluffy? (Disclaimer: I think I have some degree of synesthesia – which means that your brain connects different senses together in (an often arbitrary) manner. So if all this makes no sense to you, know that in my brain it seems logical.) And “kratzer” is a very good word to mean “scrape,” the “k” and the “tz” are so harsh you can practically hear nails on a blackboard or metal on glass.
Blue in Macchiatos loves words too. She got a calendar from her late grandmother that has a new word for everyday. It becomes a little habit of her and Isaac to discuss the word of the day. Also every part of the novel (it has three) starts with a definition of an untranslatable word describing aspects of love.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese) The sudden knowledge upon meeting someone that the two of you are destined to fall in love. Unlike the phrase “love at first sight” Koi No Yokan doesn’t mean that the feeling of love is already there when meeting someone, rather this describes the concept of feeling like love is inevitable. It’s looking at someone and feeling those sparks that a deeper romantic connection is possible.
Saudade (in Portuguese folk culture) a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.
Forelsket (Norwegian) The overwhelming euphoric feeling you experience when you’re falling in love with someone.
“Labradorescence: the brilliant iridescence of labradorite, seen only from certain angles.” For good measure I attached a screenshot of a labradorite. I found it beautiful, it looked like the wings of a dragonfly, crystallised.
“It might be my new favourite mineral,” he answered.
I tried to guess what it could have been before. Something pure and celestial, probably. I might ask him another day, but my mind wandered elsewhere.
“That’s how it is with people too, isn’t it?” I wrote.
“What do you mean? That we sometimes unexpectedly find a new favourite one? Surely :)”
His words warmed my whole self. It’s not like he was talking about me or anything; his words were just nice, okay?
“Well, almost 🙂 I meant that sometimes you meet a person and you don’t think much of them at first, then you look at them from a different angle and suddenly you realise they have the most beautiful colours.”
Here are a small collections of beautiful words I collected for my Macchaitos Pinterest board:
Do you also have favourite words? Feel free to share them 🙂