10 Beautiful Words About Love That Don’t Exist in English

May 2, 2013

Languages are a beautiful thing. Anthropologists like the master storyteller Wade Davis call for a wider understanding of humans in all their diversity through concepts like enthodiversity, because a language does not only consists of words and gramatical rules. Its an actual living record of a way of understanding, in Wade’s world ‘an old growth forest of the mind’ thus languages are much like ecological families the richness of the world including much of our collective histories. Only this time it captures the diversity of human understandings. Ask humanity a question and it will answer in a thousand languages. The same goes for the question ´What is love?´ this article selected ten words from different languages in order for us to make a beginning with finding out what those thousand voices would have to say.

Urbandud

mamihlapinatapei

1. Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.

yuanfen

2. Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.

cafune

3. Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.

retrouvailles

4. Retrouvailles (French):  The happiness of meeting again after a long time.

ilunga

5. Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.

la douleur exquise

6. La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

koi no yokan

7. Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall…

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