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Non-English Words You Should Add to Your Vocabulary

Non-English Words You Should Add to Your Vocabulary

When we hear the phrase “human nature”, we most likely think of   emotions -- something like jealousy or love. It is “human nature” to envy others; it is “human nature” to feel a deep emotional attraction to another human. But while emotions are inarguably a distinct human quality, we most often neglect the fact that language -- reading, writing, and speaking -- is also closely intertwined with human nature. It is a beautiful aspect of mankind very unique to our species, which is why I firmly believe that the study of linguistics is quite underestimated!

I personally take a deep interest not just in learning languages, but in the idea of language itself. The goal of language, the way I see it, is to draw thoughts from one’s mind as clearly and accurately as possible in order to implant them in the mind of another. Simply the idea of being able to translate electrical impulses in our brains (or thoughts) into sounds that other people can internalize is a true phenomenon. Conversation is one of the most complex methods of communication amongst all walks of life, and the fact that there are anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 languages currently spoken on the planet tells us that humans have come up with at least 5,000 distinct methods of translating thoughts into words. Pretty incredible when put into perspective!

On the basis of speculation, the most logical reason for there being so many languages on Earth is that different civilizations in history have developed with different needs and backgrounds, and have consequently developed words that match these needs and backgrounds. Therefore, it is not uncommon for some languages to have certain expressions or words that do not exist in others. Because some of these phrases can be pretty useful in anyone’s day-to-day life, here are 8 beautiful words in other tongues that do not exist in English!

 

Sophrosyne (σωφροσύνη)

Language: Greek

(n.) a healthy state of mind, characterized by self-control, moderation, and a deep awareness of one’s true self, and resulting in true happiness.

 

Ostranenie (остранение)

Language: Russian

(n.) encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliarizing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply

 

Smultronställe

Language: Swedish

(n.) lit. “place of wild strawberries”; a special place discovered, treasured, returned to fo solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness


 

Mamihlapinatapai

Language: Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego

(n.) a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something they both desire but which neither wants to begin

 

Rasasvada (rusaasvaad)

Language: Sanskrit

(n.) the taste of bliss in the absence of all thoughts

 

Firgun (פירגון)

Language: Hebrew

(n.) the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else’s pleasure or fortune, with a purely generous heart and without jealousy; or of sharing credit fairly

 

Tsundoku (積ん読)

Language: Japanese

(n.) buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands


 

Gezelligheid (Dutch pronunciation: ɣɘ.'zɛl.ɪɣ.hɛɪt)

Language: Dutch

(adj.) cozy, nice, inviting, pleasant, comfortable; connoting time spent with loved ones or togetherness after a long separation

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