There are more words out there to describe how you feel besides sad, mad and glad — in fact, there’s a whole world of words that can describe your emotions in incredibly specific ways.
Photo by Sara Löwgren.
The Positive Lexicography Project, from Dr. Tim Lomas at the University of East London has, is an index of untranslatable words that relate to different states of well-being from languages all over the world. It includes words like:
- Charmolypi (χαρμολύπη) (Greek): Sweet or ‘joy-making’ sorrow; mourning joy; happiness and sadness intermingled.
- Resfeber (Swedish): Travel fever/bug; the feeling of excitement and nervousness experienced by a traveller before undertaking a journey.
- Xīn ku (辛苦) (Chinese): Appreciation and recognition for others and their efforts.
- On (Japanese): A feeling of moral indebtedness, relating to a favour or blessing given by others.
- Waldeinsamkeit (German): forest solitude; the strange feeling of solitude or loneliness when alone in the woods.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly felt or thought all of these things before. And there are tons more to browse through and learn. According to BBC Future, Lomas was inspired to start this project after hearing about the Finnish concept of “sisu,” which roughly translates to having “extraordinary determination in the face of adversity” (the Finnish see this word as meaning much more than English words like “perseverance” or “resilience”).
So he started looking for more examples of non-English words that described very specific emotions, then published his findings in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
Lomas hopes his research and evolving lexicon of untranslatable words for specific emotions helps people see the world a little differently. You may even start to better understand yourself and learn what things really make you feel good in the process. You can check out the entire lexicon at the link below.
The Positive Lexicography Project [Dr. Tim Lomas]