Tell me what you feel, if you can

Have you ever felt that sensation that you do not have words to express what you are feeling? I have. Are you the only one experiencing that sensation? Or is it because our languages are poor and we have no names for those feelings?

I have just come across this list (via Joan Sardá) with names (words!) for 23 feelings. In a first moment, I couldn’t tell if or to what extent it was a random, partial enumeration of possible feelings. What I could see (read) is that I have likely felt most if not all of them. And some of them are quite familar to me.

In fact, what I can see (and this is a terrible confession) is that I suffer or enjoy (not completely sure) of jouska onism occhiolism monachopsis énouement exulansis nodus tollens vellichor anecdoche kuebiko. Sometimes with a slight Mauerbauertraurigkeit.

Well, are those words made up?

The English language is a magnificent sponge. (…) But for all that, it has a lot of holes. In Greek, there’s a word, “lachesism” which is the hunger for disaster. In Greek, there’s a word, “lachesism” which is the hunger for disaster. You know, when you see a thunderstorm on the horizon and you just find yourself rooting for the storm. In Mandarin, they have a word “yù yī” which means the longing to feel intensely again the way you did when you were a kid. In Polish, they have a word “jouska” which is the kind of hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head. And finally, in German, of course in German, they have a word called “zielschmerz” which is the dread of getting what you want.

The one talking is the author of “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” (so they were sorrows, after all ;), a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig.

Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

It will be published in book form later this year.

He says that these words are not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake; to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, Yet it is awkward that we are a boiling pot of coloured emotions, and we do not even have a proper way to talk about them…

Perhaps, that’s what we need to stop killing ourselves: words for emotions.


Featured Image: Onism, the Awareness of How Little of the World You’ll Experience

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