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The ‘untranslatable’ emotions you never knew you had
by David Robson
Posted November 22, 2021

emotions lacking descriptive wordsFrom gigil to wabi-sabi and tarab, there are many foreign emotion words with no English equivalent. Learning to identify and cultivate these experiences could give you a richer and more successful life.

Have you ever felt a little mbuki-mvuki – the irresistible urge to “shuck off your clothes as you dance”? Perhaps a little kilig – the jittery fluttering feeling as you talk to someone you fancy? How about uitwaaien – which encapsulates the revitalising effects of taking a walk in the wind?

These words – taken from Bantu, Tagalog, and Dutch – have no direct English equivalent, but they represent very precise emotional experiences that are neglected in our language. And if Tim Lomas at the University of East London has his way, they might soon become much more familiar. More…