Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“ Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars. ”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
“ Motherfuckers will read a book that’s 1/3rd elvish, but put two sentences in spanish and they (white people) think we’re taking over ”
Junot diaz on “do you think you alienate readers when you use spanish in your books?” (via iamincoherent)
Make love to me in Spanish.
Not with that other tongue.
I want you juntito a mi,
tender like the language
crooned to babies.
I want to be that
lullabied, mi bien
querido, that loved.
I want you inside
the mouth of my heart,
inside the harp of my wrists,
the sweet meat of the mango,
in the gold that dangles
from my ears and neck.
Say my name. Say it.”
The way it’s supposed to be said.
I want to know that I knew you
even before I knew you.
Sandra Cisneros, “Dulzura” (via atomiclanterns)
“ Because people cannot see the colour of words, the tints of words, the secret ghostly motions of words:
“Because they cannot hear the whispering of words, the rustling of the procession of letters, the dream-flutes and dream-drums which are thinly and weirdly played by words:
“Because they cannot perceive the pouting of words, the frowning and fuming of words, the weeping, the raging and racketing and rioting of words:
“Because they are insensible to the phosphorescing of words, the fragrance of words, the noisomeness of words, the tenderness or hardness, the dryness or juiciness of words—the interchange of values in the gold, the silver, the brass and the copper of words:
“Is that any reason why we should not try to make them hear, to make them see, to make them feel? ”
- Why is it seen as a synonym of “weak” when applied to men?
- Why not use the word “rude”
- Or “she’s being mean”
- “she’s being inconsiderate”
- “she’s being disrespectful”
- Rather than “she’s a bitch”
Because every time I hear that, all I hear is
- “She’s asserting herself in a way that makes me uncomfortable”
- “She’s demanding respect”
- “She’s refusing to be submissive.”
- “She’s being an asshole, but we need to make up a new term for her behavior, because asshole is what we use to categorize men, and although what she is doing is probably equal to, or even less than what a man in her position would do, she’s a woman so it’s not ~proper.”
Am I right? Or am I just being a bitch?
Top 10 Relationship Words Not Translatable into English
Compiled by Pamela Haag at BigThink:
- Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.
Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.
- Yuanfen(Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.
But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.
- Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.
- Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time. This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.
- Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.
Apparently, in 2004, this word won the award as the world’s most difficult to translate. Although at first, I thought it did have a clear phrase equivalent in English: It’s the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. But ilunga conveys a subtler concept, because the feelings are different with each “strike.” The word elegantly conveys the progression toward intolerance, and the different shades of emotion that we feel at each stop along the way.
Ilunga captures what I’ve described as the shade of gray complexity in marriages—Not abusive marriages, but marriages that involve infidelity, for example. We’ve got tolerance, within reason, and we’ve got gradations of tolerance, and for different reasons. And then, we have our limit. The English language to describe this state of limits and tolerance flattens out the complexity into black and white, or binary code. You put up with it, or you don’t. You “stick it out,” or not.
Ilunga restores the gray scale, where many of us at least occasionally find ourselves in relationships, trying to love imperfect people who’ve failed us and whom we ourselves have failed.
- La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.
When I came across this word I thought of “unrequited” love. It’s not quite the same, though. “Unrequited love” describes a relationship state, but not a state of mind. Unrequited love encompasses the lover who isn’t reciprocating, as well as the lover who desires. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated.
- Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.
This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.
- Ya’aburnee(Arabic): “You bury me.” It’s a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
The online dictionary that lists this word calls it “morbid and beautiful.” It’s the “How Could I Live Without You?” slickly insincere cliché of dating, polished into a more earnest, poetic term.
- Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.
This is a wonderful term for that blissful state, when all your senses are acute for the beloved, the pins and needles thrill of the novelty. There’s a phrase in English for this, but it’s clunky. It’s “New Relationship Energy,” or NRE.
- Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.”
It’s interesting that saudade accommodates in one word the haunting desire for a lost love, or for an imaginary, impossible, never-to-be-experienced love. Whether the object has been lost or will never exist, it feels the same to the seeker, and leaves her in the same place: She has a desire with no future. Saudade doesn’t distinguish between a ghost, and a fantasy. Nor do our broken hearts, much of the time.
“ Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true. ”
Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)
Save The English Language!
The editors of Oxford University Press and the Oxford English Dictionary are concerned about all of the wonderful words in English that are ‘disappearing’ from the language from lack of use.
So, they’ve come up with a great solution: Adopt a Word.
It’s free to adopt a word, the words are old and weird and fun to use, you can buy a t-shirt with your word on it (only if you wish; it’s not a requirement), and you can choose your adopted word!
All you agree to, in adopting your word, is to use it! You can spray paint it on a wall, use it in a meeting, win a game of Scrabble with it, or even walk around town wearing a sign-board/sandwich-board with your word on it! (Or, you could wear the aforementioned t-shirt, if you want!)
I adopted the word foppotee, which is appropriate here, since only a simpleton wouldn’t want to adopt a word and help save the English language, right?