With 3,000 Words To Express Our Emotions in English
For translators, there’s always the moment when you become exquisitely aware of the balance between the art and science of translation. If your Japanese translation, for example, expresses that feeling you have right after getting a bad haircut, how do you translate that?
There are no useful words in English for this. But your Japanese translation would simply say: age-otori. Done. Or what about that urge you feel (or your aunt feels) to pinch something that is unbearably cute? In a Filipino translation, you’d see gigil. But how would you turn that into an English expression that made sense?
Evidently, We Need More Useful Words in English
It seems that way, at least. With the largest vocabulary of any language on the planet, English seems to have enough words, thank you very much. But in the realm of emotional expression, we could do better. Of course, what English does best (and perhaps to a large extent why we have such a large vocabulary) is to co-opt words from other languages and make them our own. Schadenfreude, for example. We now know exactly how to express that feeling you get when you take pleasure in another’s suffering.
Emotions Created by the Internet Age
And the emotions keep coming: There are 5 new emotions that have come about since the dawn of the Internet age, which have been catalogued over at Thought Catalogue by Leigh Alexander. We’re pretty sure that with all the change that has happened in the last couple decades, new emotions are a big part of that experience. Unfortunately, a quick glance through those emotions reveals that all 5 are unpleasant: anxiety, rage, vague displeasure, fatigue…not the stuff that dreams are made of, for sure.
Translation of Inexpressible Words
The translator’s job is to translate the entire gamut: the kit and kaboodle. How we do it is a balance of art and science. We welcome you into the ongoing discussion of all things language, translation, and bilingual education here at Language Tran. We’re active on Google+ Facebook and Twitter.