Do you ever find yourself trying to explain a word or feeling to someone, but you just can’t find the right word to match your description? And when you try and summarize your description and use as little words as possible, you end up with a lengthy, convoluted explanation that somehow doesn’t fully articulate what you’re trying to say? Great news for you guys, these expressional lapses you experience are not due to a potentially under developed vocabulary (well, sometimes at least).
In all languages, there are things called accidental gaps. Accidental gaps are words or others forms of words that don’t exist in a language, but would be expected to exist given the grammatical rules and structure of the given language. In English, we have many of these accidental gaps, and that’s why it can be challenging to try and find a word that matches the mental image we’ve crafted in our minds. Now, I’ve found quite the helping of foreign words that match some common English descriptions. For today’s post, I’m going to do the first three examples I’ve found, and the other ones in separate post(s). With that being said, shall we begin?
We’ll start off with Portugal. If you’re a typical teenage girl, you’ll agree with me when I say that it is ever so pleasant to have someone (preferably someone of the gender you’re attracted to), plays with your hair. Having someone ask to play with your hair is essentially a marriage proposal, and I know that sounds fairly “forward”, but I have no shame owing up to my guilty pleasures. This Portuguese word is called cafuné. The cool thing about this word is that it has this affectionate kind of lovey-dovey connotation attached to it. The intense emotional undertone of this word is part of the reason that it hasn’t leached on to many other languages.
Next we have a Spanish word called pena ajena. This word helps to describe that feeling you get when you feel embarrassed or humiliated for another person. Let me doodle a quick little sketch to give you guys a better idea. You’re at a house party and as per usual there is someone who is far past the point of intoxication because a) they just brought their flip cup team a win and the little guy in the back of your brain doing backflips and high off of what feels slightly less endearing than a “love tap” on your back and poorly executed high fives egged you on, or b) because you bet your best buddy you can take twice the amount of shots he can and he has already hit double digits. This person casually goes up to every girl at this party and starts blabbering about random topics and miscellaneous events about their day. You, the coherent and sober one, over hear all of this and literally feel shades of red being painted on your face because you understand how ridiculous everything sounds.
The last word is a Norwegian word called forelsket. This word describes the blissful and euphoric feeling you get when you fall in love. There’s no real specific word in English that accurately describes this feeling partly because there’s nothing else on this earth that falling in love is comparable. But if you had to mix all those feelings of butterflies in your stomach, sweatiness in your palms and that wonderful smiling plastered across your face, you would have the word forelsket