Friday, May 13, 2016
I've seen so many of these articles, this one titled The Glossary of Happiness, within which are contained these wonderful lists of words gathered from dozens of languages other than English, for which there are no direct English translations. The articles are always framed in whimsy and light and discuss perhaps a Hindi word for the inaudible giggle two lovers feel more than utter in the presence of their grandparents... or some such quaint shit.
I remain convinced though that for every Positive Lexicography there is an equal and opposite Negative Lexicography containing words that we should be happy don't exist, like maybe a Bantu word for being so furious with your mother than you want to shit into her bedroom slippers.
Or the aroma of one of those half-vomit/half-burp phenomena, from Farsi.
Just a thought.
The most worthy part of this article though is a descriptive phrase for a phenomenon that I have always, to some extent believed is true, which is: "linguistic determinism, the strictest version, might argue that a culture that lacks a term for a certain emotion—a particular shade of joy or flavor of love—cannot recognize or experience it at all." I would definitely walk that back a step and say that outside of our recognized lexicography, our ability to experience emotions, or even to see certain things, is drastically inhibited.