Have you ever thought of a feeling or experience but realized that there is no actual word to explain exactly what you mean? Around the world, individuals have created words in order to properly explain the way they feel when experiencing certain situations thus creating a universal, untranslatable language. A calming and beautiful book called “Lost In Translation,” provides words for feelings an individual may experience in their lifetime.
Imagine yourself exploring a forest, alone but not frightened about your whereabouts. The birds are chirping to one another from tree to tree feeding their offspring and the breeze slowly rustles the leaves at your feet. You have a calming feeling sweep over you as you breathe in the clean warm air and you feel as if the world and the nature around is all part of something greater. It could be God, most likely, but nonetheless you feel connected and there are no words to explain the solitude and beauty of your experience.
This is called Waldeinsamkeit – a German noun for the feeling of being alone in the woods, an easy solitude and a connectedness to nature (Sanders 2014).
The water trickles down your arm and traces every curve and edge of your body until it drips off your skin. The water warm, not hot, just right as it cascades down your back embracing you with a lovely and comforting hug. It reminds you of how fortunate you are for being born into a middle-class family, in a first world country with running water. The security found in your life comes from the warm water you bathe in as you stand in the shower knowing your place in world.
This individual is called a Warmduscher – a German noun referring to someone who would only take a warm shower (not an icy cold or burning hot one), implying that they are a bit of a wimp, and unwilling to step outside of their comfort zone (Sanders 2014).
You see your reflection in the running brook at your feet and you bend down to inspect your image. You scoop up a handful of water skewing the likeness of your face and you watch the water trickle out of the cracks of your hands. For others, hands are saviors, the tools for employment, an expression of love or hate, a cup to quench thirst. For those people, their cracks may be deeper than others from hard work that may be a symbol of the past but also an enemy in the present. A realization that as long as they drink water with their hands, they may still struggle to survive.
Gurfa is a German noun meaning the amount of water that can be held in one hand (Sanders 2014).
Every word has a story, no matter what it really means. It can mean something else to everyone yet still connects us to the people around us.
Sanders, Ella Frances. Lost in translation: an illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014. Print.