We have a rather multilingual family. We say goodnight in one of four languages – English, Portuguese, Hebrew, or Greek. As I’ve learned more about languages, and more languages, I’ve realized that while there may be a word for every aspect of the human experience, those words aren’t all in the same language. NPR had a story about just that earlier this summer – How Do You Say …? For Some Words, There’s No Easy Translation.
The Portuguese word “saudade” is one such word. It takes a whole phrase or two to convey it in English. It’s like homesickness, but not necessarily for home. Portuguese uses different words for different types of knowing and different types of being. And the word “mesmo” can be used for a lot of different situations.
Languages are how we interact with the world around us. That world influences the development of that language. Learning the language of a place helps you get a feel of the world of that language. It’s fascinating.