Relationship Words that defy translation, yet fit.

There are some words that defy definition in the English Language – yet are so right for a situation.  One “hot” word comes to mind: 

Hygge (Danish) is a word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.

IMAGE: FLICKR, MATT MATCHES

Which seems very similar to:

Gezelligheid (Dutch), a word that depending on context can be translated as convivial, cozy, fun, or nice atmosphere, but can also show someone belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or the general togetherness that gives people a warm feeling.

That said, here are some words that don’t translate easily to the English language, yet convey some very important concepts in relationships.

Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who wish to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.

Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny.  A “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.

From the movie, Serendipity.

Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.

Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.

marina abramovic: the artist is present, her lover returns after 30 years

Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.

La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

Scene from Love Actually

Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.

Ya’aburnee (Arabic): “You bury me.” One’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.

Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.”

Reuters: I believe this is his Sister, Lesleigh Coyer

Thank you to Pamela Haag Psychology Today Article (here)  with photos and additions by dievca.


9 Comments on “Relationship Words that defy translation, yet fit.”

  1. This is a beautiful post, what great words, and I particularly like the photo of the old Japanese couple.

    Ash

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow— D, this is a terrific post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MoMo says:

    Love this post – it’s all about feelings and trying to catch them in words. You certainly know the Dutch.

    Liked by 1 person


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