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The 'untranslatable' emotions you never knew you had

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20170126-the-untranslatable-emotions-you-never-knew-you-had

bbc.com

The 'untranslatable' emotions you never knew you had
Have you ever felt a little mbuki-mvuki - the irresistible urge to "shuck off your clothes as you dance"? Perhaps a little kilig - the jittery fluttering feeling as you talk to someone you fancy? How about uitwaaien - which encapsulates the revitalising effects of taking a walk in the wind?

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The Positive Lexicography Project

The Positive Lexicography Project

It aims to offer a more nuanced understanding of ourselves, by capturing many ways of expressing good feelings from across the world.
It is directed by Tim Lomas at the University of East London, who is working towards getting many "untranslatable" experiences get in our daily vocabulary.

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Highly specific positive feelings

... that depend on particular circumstances:

  • Desbundar (Portuguese): to shed one’s inhibitions in having fun
  • Tarab (Arabic): a musically induced state of ecstasy or enchantment
  • Shinrin-yoku (Japanese): the relaxation gained from bathing in the forest, figuratively or literally
  • Gigil (Tagalog): the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished
  • Yuan bei (Chinese): a sense of complete and perfect accomplishment
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit): the anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, whereby one keeps going outside to check if they have arrived.

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Complex and bittersweet experiences

  • Natsukashii (Japanese): a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
  • Wabi-sabi (Japanese): a “dark, desolate sublimity” centered on transience and imperfection in beauty
  • Saudade (Portuguese): a melancholic longing or nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away either spatially or in time – a vague, dreaming wistfulness for phenomena that may not even exist
  • Sehnsucht (German): “life-longings”, an intense desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable.

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Behaviors for well-being

  • Dadirri (Australian aboriginal): a deep, spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening
  • Pihentagyú (Hungarian): literally meaning “with a relaxed brain”, it describes quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions
  • Desenrascanço (Portuguese): to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation
  • Sukha (Sanskrit): genuine lasting happiness independent of circumstances
  • Orenda (Huron): the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces such as fate.

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    Emotional granularity

    It's our capacity to distinguish between the particularities of our emotions. This then determines how well we cope with life.
    Some of us use different emotion words interchangeably, while others are highly precise in their descriptions.

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