Language Matters: How Are You Feeling?

Sometimes, words just can’t describe how you feel.  But maybe in another language, you could find the perfect word for that feeling.

There are words that simply can’t be translated from one language to another.  For example, the French term “déjà vu,” which means “the feeling of having experienced something that is really being experienced for the first time,” has no English equivalent.

Click the image to see it full-size

Designer Pei-Ying Lin has created a chart of emotions, including words for feelings that are difficult to describe in English.  The connections in the chart relate the emotions to each other, making it easier to imagine what feelings the unfamiliar words describe.

Have you ever felt “viitsima”?  In Estonian, this is “the feeling of slight laziness, can’t be bothered to do anything.  Don’t want to work nor go anywhere.”

Or “saudade,” which in Portuguese refers to “a somewhat melancholic feeling of incompleteness.  Longing for something that might never return.  Yearning.”

Maybe that feeling that just can’t be put into words actually can — but only if you look outside your own language.

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