Wednesday 9 May 2018

The positive lexicography

A couple of days ago, I came upon a Psychology Today article about the Danish (and Norwegian) word "Hygge".  It is a word that encompass such a delightful concept (to me) of:

  • Feeling cozy "in one’s heart."  In such moments, all is right with the world, and we feel safe and at ease, caring and cared for."
  • a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.
  • "a form of everyday togetherness", "a pleasant and highly valued everyday experience of safety, equality, personal wholeness and a spontaneous social flow"  
I have since come upon a website by a man exploring positive words from other cultures and languages.  There's a particular delight in experiencing another world-view by witnessing the words another language uses to describe a concept, event or feeling that we may have, but despite our nearly 250,000 words in English, have not yet really found a way to describe.
Some examples are:
Finnish hyppytyynytyydytys, which refers to the satisfaction one gets from sitting on a bouncy cushion or comfortable chair.

Spanish estrenar, which conjures the feeling of confidence one gets when wearing new clothes

English chrysalism, defined as “the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.
To illustrate the power of a bigger vocabulary, Lomas presents the example of a study in which children who were taught new words to describe their emotions showed improvement in behavior and academic performance. It’s possible that when words give us a greater ability to differentiate feelings, we become more capable of understanding and regulating them.

The website and list is located here: