Have you ever logged into Twitter, ready to passively and aggressively release the valve of your emotions… but you can’t quite express them within that intimidating 140-character limit?
One word may suffice. The trap?… It may not be in English.
PopSci recently covered the work of Pei-Ying Lin, a design student at the Royal College of Art in London who created a linguistic model based on her study of “untranslatable” words.
Lin first mapped the five basic emotions in English, then identified foreign words that could express the ambiguous feelings that lay in between.
There is a plethora of words that have no English equivalents. We at Daily weirdness have compiled a list of some of our favorites:
The spirit of the staircase (French)
“Translated as ‘staircase spirit’ is the act of thinking of a smart comeback when it’s too late to deliver it.”
Example: With this searing statement, Kanye West left in triumph. Taylor Swift, an hour later, thought of a million returns that she could have yelled at Kanye if she could do it all over again. Damn! The spirit of the staircase!
“The weight gained by emotional overeating; literally translates to grief bacon.
Use after breaking, after watching 500 summer days and eat 3 jars of ice cream, 5 chocolate bars, a medium pizza with extra cheese, and a whole jar of Nutella. You can work on the kummerspeck later.
“Do something with soul, creativity or love.”
A great new life mantra for motivation; carpe diem was getting old!
“The urge to pinch or squeeze something unbearably cute.” “
Finally, there’s a word to describe how our old great-aunts must feel when they can’t help but pinch your cheeks and leave red marks—gigil.
a face that needs a fist (German)
“A face that badly needs a punch”
Whether it’s your worst enemy or your little brother, it’s also a word that satisfies any temperament just by saying it – if you can pronounce it!
“An act that someone does for you and you didn’t want them to do and try to keep them from doing it, but they just kept going, determined to do you a favor, and then things went.” gone bad and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end, social conventions forced you to express your gratitude.
It was a defining bite, but now when you’re forced to say thank you for something you’re not grateful for, you have the arigata-meiwaku as a word to tweet and express your anger under the radar.
“The euphoria you feel when you fall in love for the first time.”
The sighs, fainting spells, and sensations you get when you think of someone special or read Nicholas Sparks’ novels.
“The silent but meaningful gaze shared by two people who both want to initiate something but neither wants to take the first step.”
The scenario where he wants her and she wants it but tragically neither has a clue – and yet generally everyone knows it except them. Kiss already!
“You know when you’re really full, but your meal is so delicious you can’t stop eating it?” This word in Georgian means “I ate everything by accident. “
The word to use when you’re on a diet and think you’re just going to eat a Pringle – and then the next moment you’re looking at the bottom of Pringle’s box. Whoops! Shemomedjamo!
“The feeling of anticipation when you wait for someone to show up at your house and keep checking outside to see if they’re already there. “
It’s that feeling when you wait for that special someone to come at a certain time – a family member, lover, friend, or maybe more frequently, the pizza delivery guy.
“Hesitating when introducing someone because you forgot their name.”
Such a moment-and-I-don’t-want-to-remember. I would tweet that word right away.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
“The feeling when you first meet someone that the two of you are going to fall in love.”
Heartbeat, fainting and butterflies. There was certainly koi no yokan when I first saw Ryan Gosling on screen.
“Someone who has withdrawn from social life and who never leaves his room; they are often obsessed with television and video games.
Can be applied to anyone born in the 90s: Gone are the days of making fun of computer genius Kim possible who remained in a locker glued to a computer screen. But don’t worry mom, you can still make friends on the internet.
“A person who believes it is their destiny to eliminate all misspellings and punctuation at the expense of popularity, self-esteem and mental well-being.”
I found it hilarious that it was a real word in Finnish. Shout out to all real Hermione Granger the world needs you.
“The comfort and friendliness of being at home with friends, with loved ones; general solidarity.
This word reminds me of Christmas. Exchanging gifts and drinking hot chocolate in front of a fireplace definitely defines NS.
Lin’s infographic clearly shows how we share the same emotions. As Dr. María Cuervo, Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, says, it seems “language doesn’t determine how people think.”
Unfortunately, even with over 3000 words available in our English vocabulary, there will always be a barrier between our emotions and the language we use to communicate them. Hope our list helps you!
Image courtesy of Alexis Nyal
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