Language provides us with the ability to describe human experiences. With over thousands of cultures and even more number of languages, we can’t quite capture our whole understanding of the world with just one language. History, tradition, religion and character are merely examples of the causes that guide languages to invent unique words. You’d be surprised to know how many words there are that cannot be translated directly to your native language.
Learning Japanese has opened my mind to some beautiful words that are quite hard to translate to English. Here are my favorites below!
1. Mono no Aware
It’s hard to explain this notion without giving an example so… Imagine yourself sitting in a car. Your head is resting on your hand and your eyes focused outside. You try to catch the scenery but the car is going too fast that the colors all fade into one big blurry image. You can hear the music from the radio, soft and unassuming. Your breath comes in unhurried. The world is beautiful, is it not? You wistfully think. Your mind slowly voids any forthcoming thoughts. Then, you snap out of it. You had a moment, and that intense awareness that an experience has slipped away is “Mono no Aware”. All good things come to an end.
“Yūgen” is an awareness of the world that is deep and beyond words. A sense you get when you notice that you can almost grab hold of the reality that inspires existence, the meaning of life. In a way, “Yūgen” is the directly related to “Mono no Aware”. Though “Yūgen” is more… thought-provoking.
Often, this word is related to a lengthy search of a person’s purpose. In Okinawa, it is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”. They say that to find “Ikigai” is to be completely satisfied and at peace with one’s self and the world.
4. Koi no Yokan
“Koi no Yokan” refers to a feeling that you can fall in love with a person, after meeting them for the first time. It should not be confused with love at first sight in which there are already feelings of love. Rather, this could be akin to the knowledge that love, in the long run, is inevitable.
The word that inspired this post! Best explained by watching this YouTube short.
How about in your language? Are there any words that cannot be directly translated? Comment below!