With over one million words in the English language, it seems ridiculous to think that sometimes we just don’t have the perfect word to sum up our thoughts or situations. So what should we do? Well, we should nick them from other languages, surely?
The following foreign words sum up things that just seem to be ever-present in our day-to-day lives. Which begs the question: why haven’t we taken these words under our wing yet? Besides, if ‘Bantz‘ can enter the English dictionary, I doubt it’ll be too difficult for the following to follow suit…
Noun: Comfort, cosiness.
This Danish word (pronounced ‘hue-gah’) is possibly the cutest word in all of existence and needs to become a thing in England. Now. It’s roughly translated as ‘cosiness’, but this could refer to anything; more broadly, it’s the feeling of creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying life’s good moments with good people. So, it could be your friends and family, snuggling down with your pets in bed, or just enjoying a good cup of tea. It’s perfect for our winter months, right? Now, I’m not one to draw conclusions, but seriously: the Danes have this word and they’re considered to be the happiest people in the world. Need I say more?
Noun: ‘Pre fun’
This Dutch noun is literally just the excitement and build-up felt before an event takes place. It could be before Christmas or before you take off on holiday. It could even just be before a party (in which case, just holler ‘prinking voorpret!’ and watch chaos ensue.)
Noun: The overwhelming urge to pinch or squeeze something really cute
At last! A Filipino word to sum up just what the hell grandmothers do when they see a cute baby in the street.
Noun: The constant act of buying books, but never reading them.
This Japanese term pretty much sums up my life. Plus, it feels better to drop into conversation, rather than just calling myself a ‘serial hoarder’. “Oh, yeah, I can’t possibly take those 600 books to the charity shop. It’s tsundoku. It’s fine, it’s a thing. I’m perfectly sane. Don’t touch my E.L. James.”
L’esprit de l’escalier
Term: The predicament of thinking of the perfect reply too late.
Ever walked away from an argument/discussion/conversation and wished “Damn, I wish I’d said that?” Before now English speakers have only been able to refer to this as ‘thinking of the perfect reply too late’. Which definitely isn’t as heroic-sounding as ‘l’esprit de l’escalier!’ (i.e. ‘the spirit of the staircase’ or ‘staircase wit’).
Why is it called that? Well, it comes from a French philosopher, Denis Diderot. After a confrontation with statesman Jacques, Diderot said that a ‘sensitive man’ like himself often becomes overwhelmed at the argument levelled against him – and he can only think clearly once he’s removed from the situation, and reaches the bottom of the stairs.
Noun: A craving for travel
Ever felt homesick for a place you’ve never actually been to? If so, it’s likely you’ve been suffering from what the Germans call ‘fernweh’. Yep, I definitely have a fernweh for the Maldives. Hint hint, anybody?
Noun: A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that you can’t help but laugh
The perfect word to sum up your dad’s awful pun. Jayus is pretty much the only Indonesian word you ever need to know. For now, at least.
Noun: A face badly in need of a fist
Trust the Germans to come up with a word so brilliant. Just don’t ask me how to pronounce it. This is the perfect word to sum up people like Justin Bieber. How did we not know this before?!
Tatemae and Honne
Term: What you pretend to believe, and what you actually believe
It feels like this Japanese phrase is the perfect one for the English. After all, we might think, “You can have the last biscuit”. But that roughly translates as, “Don’t you dare touch that custard cream I’ve been eyeing up for the last half hour.” We’re just way too polite.
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