English doesn’t have a word for quite a few concepts which exist in other languages. Most of the time it doesn’t matter.
But here are four terms we’d like to see adopted, not only because they’re lovely words, but because they expand the scope of our experience.
Doubt that knowing new words can make your life better? Read on – then we’ll talk.
We’re romantic souls, so this one’s our personal favourite. Hiraeth is a Welsh word for a feeling something like homesickness.
But it’s not just plain old homesickness. Oh no.
Hiraeth is a longing which can’t be satisfied, for a time and a place now permanently in the past, or perhaps which never existed at all.
It’s about having left a part of yourself behind for good.
Got a tear in your eye yet? We have.
In fact, all this talk of hiraeth is making us distinctly manja. We need some petting and coddling.
Manja is an excellent Malay term, and another concept English doesn’t have a word for: behavior calculated to bring forth a sympathetic response.
Think piteous sniffling, gazing up from under lowered eyelids, or even outright foot-stamping demands.
Will it get you stroking and soothing? Then it’s manja.
Some definitions imply that it’s only women who are manja, but we know different. We’ve seen (and heard) it used to describe crabby old men, cats yowling for food or attention, and needy boyfriends.
It’s a lot less noble than hiraeth, but hey – whatever works.
Fear you’re slightly past your prime, and beginning to look it?
Forget dermal peels, juice cleanses and facelifts: just learn to embrace wabi-sabi, and you’ll feel as beautiful as you ever did.
Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in the impermanent, and in imperfection. It’s all about authenticity, and the melancholy sense of time passing.
If you want to find wabi-sabi, look at an English churchyard rather than an immaculately groomed American cemetery. Cuddle a much-loved, one-eyed, tatty-eared teddy bear.
Or, as we said at the start of this paragraph, just take a good, honest look at yourself in the mirror. Then blow yourself a kiss, or maybe give a cheeky wink.
Because in our opinion, the world needs way more wabi-sabi.
If you’ve ever been to Norway, you’ve almost certainly had a taste of friluftsliv.
Yet another concept English doesn’t have a word for, friluftsliv can be challenging to non-Scandinavians (especially those from the inner city).
Literally meaning ‘open-air life’, friluftsliv is all about hanging out in mother nature.
It describes activities as diverse as sleeping outside overnight, or cross-country skiing.
Our own encounter with friluftsliv was terrifying, and involved our Norwegian friends persuading us to pose at the edge of a very high mountain like this.
That’s why, when the experts talk about friluftsliv as something healthy, we’re skeptical.
English Doesn’t Have a Word for It, But…
…we do have an app for it.
If, after reading this article, you feel like visiting a gallery to appreciate wabi-sabi in art, or going on a hike to get some friluftsliv, you’ll have much more fun in good company.
Download the Loose Ends app, connect with your friends, and banish hiraeth for good. But don’t be too manja, okay?