When English Words Fail

Jan 12 2013 @ 2:30pm

Emily Elert explains using a linguistic graph:

Few of us use all–or even most–of the 3,000 English-language words available to us for describing our emotions, but even if we did, most of us would still experience feelings for which there are, apparently, no words. In some cases, though, words do exist to describe those nameless emotions–they're just not English words. Which is a shame, because–as today's infographic by design student Pei-Ying Lin demonstrates, they often define a feeling entirely familiar to us.

Megan Garber highlights some favorites:

You know that sorry state of affairs that is actually looking worse after a haircut? Or the urge to squeeze something that is unbearably cute? Or the euphoria you feel when you're first falling in love?

These are common things — so common that they're among the wonderfully delightful and excruciatingly banal experiences that bind us together as humans. And yet they are not so common, apparently, that the English language has found words to express them. The second-most-spoken language in the world, as a communications system, sometimes drops the ball when it comes to de-idiomizing experience — a fact that we are reminded of anew in the image above.

Go here for a similar Dish thread on words without an English equivalent.