Don’t you sometimes wish you could say…

If only we had a team of talented writers following us everywhere, who would simply know what we wished to say and would telepathically transmit to us, at the right time, that wonderful comeback or the finely crafted and winning argument. I don’t have such a team. My tongue often manages to stumble in a big way in the small recesses of my mouth and blurt pearls of foolishness at the wrong time. You must know the feeling, even if not as frequently as I do.

Sometimes I only need a single word to express a sentiment, and I just can’t come up with it. My tongue is not always my friend; it often hordes all sorts of words at its tip, refusing to give them me. And that got me thinking of words that don’t exist in the English language, but express concepts so well that they are worthy of being shared:

  • PYT from Danish: “Pyt doesn’t have an exact English translation. It’s more a cultural concept about cultivating healthy thoughts to deal with stress”, I learned from Popular Science. Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world, ranking second happiest for the last 3 years, and so the Danes must know something more than most of us on happiness. Instead of getting upset by daily hassles, the Danes apparently interject with pyt and decide “that it’s not worth letting someone else’s actions, which are out of your control, bother you”, says the same article. It even suggests to use a “pytbutton”, to help us let go. Pyt is definitely a word I wish we had in English, and one I’m going to start using, embracing the wisdom of the quote to the right…

  • Schadenfreude from German: Schadenfreude “is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another” Wikipedia tells us. Sounds nasty, and yet think about all the jokes, the movies, the stories that we’ve all laughed at that described a scenario where someone’s misery or just plain idiocy makes are giggle. Or at least smirk. It’s almost an involuntary reaction for most of us. It’s the slapstick comedy that will result 3 seconds after the scene to the right… Yes, you may try to warn the owner of the shoe, but you know most will experience schadenfreude 😀
  • HIRAETH from Welsh: Hiraeth is “like a combination of the homesickness, longing, nostalgia, and yearning, for a home that you cannot return to, no longer exists, or maybe never was. It can also include grief or sadness for who or what you have lost, losses which make your ‘home’ not the same as the one you remember” I learned here. Hiraeth is one of those words that does not translate easily to English, but if you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, this word may resonate with you like it has with me. It’s not only the temporary parting, a la “parting is such sweet sorrow”, it’s the parting from a place you can no longer return to.

What term or feeling would you like to have a word for in English?

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96 thoughts on “Don’t you sometimes wish you could say…

  1. I love this post, EW! I need to look up “pyt” to figure out how to pronounce it…so perfect…and thank you for sharing a new word that speaks to a kind of melancholy…hiraeth…I need to learn more about that one, if for no reason other than I’ve got loads of Welsh ancestors. And yes, to your comment about words being so close…but not quite where you want them when you need them. You’re not alone! 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so very much, Vicki, it means a lot to me!

      Tbh, I had to look up how to pronounce pyt myself (pid!) 🙃

      I’m glad you shared that I’m not alone in feeling things that require… new words, or maybe old words from different languages? And then there’s the “I know it exists, but I can’t come up with it right this very second”: if they gave me 5 minutes to answer every question on Jeopardy, I’d do a lot better 😉

      Have you ever been to Wales? I’ve heard it’s a place of such stunning beauty that it’s small wonder they came up with “hiraeth” there…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are so sweet…thanking me…NO thank YOU for such a swell post! 😉And thx for the “pyt” pronunciation – so cool….and no, I’ve never been to Wales but it’s on “the list”! And too funny — hubby just made the same remark about Jeopardy the other day…”if speed wasn’t necessary”…Sending hugs to you! 🙂❤️🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What a positively delightful post! And I was wondering how to pronounce it too. I want to remember these words, as well as “hygge.” Loved this, EW!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s strange to start responding to such a wonderful comment with an apology, but I must. It’s been two weeks, and the “pending” comment (only the first comment is moderated, to avoid the spams from … those accounts…) escaped my notice for those two weeks. And I apologize.

          I do very Very VERY much appreciate your response! And, I, too, continue to need to check up on the correct pronunciation of “pyt”, since what’s in my head may not have been what was in the Danes’ heads 😀 And just like hygge, it’s a powerful word, and yet the nuances of pyt somehow touched me even more. Perhaps because of the cheer they imply?

          You’ve just given me an idea for a next cheery post (it’s been too long, I know), so double thanks to you, and a sincere re-apology!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh goodness, no apology needed, but I appreciate your very kind response! As to the next cheery post, I’ll be looking forward to it!! 😊

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Dave, it means a lot coming from you, and doubly so for the new acronym which I take at face value: a long time ago I created a rule for myself “when in doubt, interpret as a compliment.” 🙃

      I missed reading a post from you this last Sunday, glad you’re well?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Not quite sure how that happened … I remember going to check your blog early Sunday morning, I guess I missed it. But now I’m curious: what do you think makes that inequity more prominent now, given that it’s been plaguing humanity for millennia, probably since we entered our agrarian era?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Not sure why economic inequality is worse today; as you note, it’s almost always been bad. I guess new technology has helped “mint” an even greater level of incredible wealth for some — Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, etc. And the billionaire class has “bought” much of the U.S. Congress, which doesn’t help.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I wonder if it’s just more visible? Because looking at the richest folks today:
            https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/012715/5-richest-people-world.asp
            and the richest folks in history (not even including kings/rulers)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wealthiest_historical_figures
            as rich as the Musks and Bezoses of today are, there was some pretty jaw-dropping wealth in the past, too. Maybe fewer people got to see the extravagance of the Rockefellers and the Carnegies?

            Liked by 1 person

        3. Great point! Things are more visible today with the news media, social media, the Internet, etc. Sort of analogous to all the police violence we’re made aware of today; that violence has always been there, but not captured on smartphone cameras and such.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I recently read a sad story about how many “influencers” in Dubai, that Dubai seems to encourage to share “the high life” resort to prostitution to pay for their lifestyle. And their prices are based on the number of followers they have. This is a strange, strange world we live in. And stranger still is how much those posts seem to influence so many others?

            Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post, EW. It, and more generally speaking, YOU fill me with a warmth and delight. It reminds me of the Danish word, Hygge, which is the concept of coziness and warmth. Wishing you some of that today!

    Liked by 4 people

          1. Northern European languages are challenging. I recently started to relearn French but was contemplating Welsh or Gaelic. I feel outnumbered by vowels with those languages but I would love to be able to speak even a few words- Danish would seem more appropriate but I feel lost there as well.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Wynne! I love the word hygge, too, I see like you described it, the coziness and warmth that can be achieved through maybe close friendship and feeling of being “home” with a friend? It’s a great word, and even better feeling. One wonders why this word emerged in Denmark? Maybe we should create great words specifically from Danish! Pyt and hygge can get us started 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We just had a huge snowfall in Vancouver, which is an infrequent event. Your post plus the snow reminded me of: Gluggaveður – an Icelandic term anglicised as ‘gluggavedur’ – which means ‘window-weather’. What is means is that it is nice to look through the window (where you are warm and cozy) at weather that you don’t want to be out in.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What an absolutely fantastic word! I never heard of it before (thank you for teaching it to me!) but have often felt that way during the winter months! I love it! And I wish I was in Vancouver right now and experiencing gluggavedur! ❄️ 😃 🛋

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Denmark is on my bucket list simply because it is the happiest country in the world, and I want to go there to soak up some of that happiness. I genuinely believe that just being around the Danish would be worth the plane fare.

    I also liked the Hiraeth-related article you linked to. I have strong homesick thoughts for an inner city and a village (feels like Switzerland) I’ve never visited, but I know deep down that I have in some way. This post really spoke to me, so thank you for sharing it today. 😘

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad we both connected over the same words, the same sentiments. I’d love to go to Denmark, toon hubby’s been there for a trip years ago and loved it!

      The Carson McCullers quote resonated with me, and I was wondering if there was a way to encapsulate that sentiment. I guess the Welsh found it for both of us?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Those are such great words! I have heard of Schadenfreude, but not the other two. I love how certain languages can capture a feeling/situation/sensation with just one word. I imagine – but do not know for sure – that English has single words for certain feelings/situations/sensations that require multiple words to describe in other languages too.

    Of course, even if there was THE PERFECT WORD for me to say at any given time, it would probably stick stubbornly to the tip of my tongue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Janis!

      As I was compiling the list, the first word that came to mind was schadenfreude 😀 And I love that suggestion!!! I wonder what words from English don’t have an equal in other languages. You KNOW I’m going to start exploring that question since none come to the tip of my rogue tongue atm 🙂

      Like

  6. These words are wonderful. I’ve been collecting non-English words that express emotions and states-of-being that the English lexicon is lacking. I’m planning a blogpost on the topic in the near future. Yiddish has many wonderful terms, like “nachas” (Throat clearing sound of ch). The literal translation would be pride and joy but it is so much more. One might wish new parents, “May you have much nachas from your children.” It’s that swelling feeling inside one gets from their children or perhaps special student of gratitude, pride, joy, and meaning all tied up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Evelyn! I’m looking forward to reading that and learning more about those “MIA” words!

      And, yes, you’re absolutely right: Yiddish is RICH in wonderful terms! One of my favorites is “meshuguene, arumpfoon dach” which stands for “crazy person, get off the roof” 😀 Now, tell me there’s any way to translate THAT sentiment 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You always find such interesting things, EW. So, what is the number 1 happiest country in the world, inquiring minds would like to know? Those are fun words, and pyt is definitely the best. That’s an attitude Americans would do well to emulate. I can see how that would make a country over all happier. There should be a word for what your opening paragraphs made me think of: when you’ve been thinking about something recently and it comes out in conversation at the wrong time just because it’s so fresh in your mind. Like when at a formal gathering at a friend’s house, as other ladies were gathering their food from the lovely potluck display, I started talking about my morning sickness being so bad I threw up often in the sink because I couldn’t make it to the toilet. There are other instances, but that one’s definitely the best/worse. Did you experience some schadenfreude from that terrible story of mine? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Betsy, I’m laughing here because that’s exactly the sort of thing I’d do. Say what was on mind out of context to where I was & who I was with. I have an almost constant loop of ideas percolating in the back of my brain, and occasionally one escapes at the wrong time. Thanks for guiding me to your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. A long time ago I learned that whenever in doubt, it’s best to take what was said as a compliment. Sometimes I’ll be right, and the rest of the time I’ll annoy the would-be-complimenter 😛

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I am lucky that the snappy comeback does not come naturally to me. Rather than babble, I keep quiet and eventually let go of the irritation that made me want to say something mean and smart. Pyt is perfect.

    Hiareth is an interesting word, too. I once drove a friend around the area I grew up. We ended up parked outside my old house and I was pointing out where the massive trees used to be when a young man came out of the house and asked if he could help me. Mildly embarrassed I explained that I had grown up in the house. His parents invited us in to see what they had done. And it was interesting, they made some very smart changes. But, it was not where I grew up anymore and that was kind of sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your attitude! I’m still a beginner in the Pyt, but I’m trying…

      I get what you’re saying about the “it’s not the same.” When I was an adult I went to my grandmother’s place, which I remembered had ENORMOUS steps leading up to it. It turns out they were tiny little baby steps, and my memory of the road to her “castle” was tarnished…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I started working on Pyt, not having a name for it yet, years ago when I was active on internet forums. So many people online appear deliberately mean, as if they don’t know there is a real person on the other side of the screen.Trolls, stalkers, arguments, death threats – it’s all not needed in any conversation and I’ve known trolls who were proud of their ability to work people up. I dropped out of forums, I usually don’t comment on a blog right after I read it. And I proof read in the hopes of not typing something that is going to be read as mean. Sometimes that’s hard. I do occasionally point out something that I find offensive, though my general rule is to walk away. And after all that, I’m not really sure whether I’m cultivating positive thoughts to deal with stress or whether I’m just trying not to cause myself or others stress we don’t need.

        By the way, regarding Schadenfreude, I’m physically unable to watch those “funny” videos where people wipe out on their skateboard or fall off some rocks or get hit by a baseball. You know the ones I mean! I have a form of synesthesia which is apparently quite common and not as interesting as hearing music as colors or shapes. I feel actual, and often severe, pain even imagining those videos – tho I have been able to desensitize myself at least so that thinking or talking about a trigger – such as the 80s fascination with women in bikinis riding roller skates/blades on the street. I used to feel sharp pain in my legs and lower back just imagining the image – and if one of those sneaks into something I’m watching I still feel pain. It’s not mirror touch synesthesia, rarely do I feel the pain anywhere but legs, feet or lower back. Like I said, it’s apparently quite common but it also can’t laugh at those videos…

        It is certainly amazing how much our house shrank after it was sold. I kind of hate that seeing things like your grandma’s house tarnishes the memory.

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    1. Who said it that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery? 😀 I guess English flatters a lot of languages, in the best way possible, I LIKE that! Thank you, Arlene!

      Pyt is the word I’m trying to embrace the most… And, I’ll admit, struggling with the most as well…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m a fan of interesting and unique words!

    Have you heard of the feelings wheel? I often practice journaling my feelings, which help me get in touch with “my words”. But sometimes I don’t even know what I’m really feeling, so then I pull out the feeling wheel, which I have in digital and paper form, so it’s never far from me. Once I am more connected to my feelings, this causes an over-all increase in my holistic integration. So then I’m able to feel my feelings, find my words, more connect more fully with myself, others, and the world around me.

    I’ve read about Schadenfreude in Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart. Another great resource for helping me name what I’m feeling! The other words are new to me. I especially resonate with hiraeth. I’ve often used the word verklempt, which is closely related. But hiraeth has enough nuance in its differences, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a huge fan of words, and believe they have enormous power, and as Nathaniel Hawthorne said:
      “Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

      I’ve not heard of the feeling wheel, I’ll have to look that up, thank you for introducing me to a new concept and to a new word “verklempt”, I’m going to have to learn how to pronounce it!

      Liked by 1 person

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