Tag Archives: Big Think

Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren’t Translatable Into English

Elephant-Heart-726472These are words that in other languages describe the subtle realities of love, desire and relationship… but seem to have no direct English translation. Compiled by Pamela Haag at BigThink:

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.

Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.

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.From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.

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

4. Retrouvailles (French):  The happiness of meeting again after a long time. This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.

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

Apparently, in 2004, this word won the award as the world’s most difficult to translate. Although at first, I thought it did have a clear phrase equivalent in English: It’s the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. But ilunga conveys a subtler concept, because the feelings are different with each “strike.” The word elegantly conveys the progression toward intolerance, and the different shades of emotion that we feel at each stop along the way. Ilunga captures what I’ve described as the shade of gray complexity in marriages—Not abusive marriages, but marriages that involve infidelity, for example.  We’ve got tolerance, within reason, and we’ve got gradations of tolerance, and for different reasons. And then, we have our limit. The English language to describe this state of limits and tolerance flattens out the complexity into black and white, or binary code. You put up with it, or you don’t.  You “stick it out,” or not.

Ilunga restores the gray scale, where many of us at least occasionally find ourselves in relationships, trying to love imperfect people who’ve failed us and whom we ourselves have failed.

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

When I came across this word I thought of “unrequited” love. It’s not quite the same, though. “Unrequited love” describes a relationship state, but not a state of mind. Unrequited love encompasses the lover who isn’t reciprocating, as well as the lover who desires. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated.

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

This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.

Read the rest over at Big Think

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography

Originally posted in February 2012

photo by: ildalina

It’s Not Unpossible: 7 Non-Trashy Non-Celeb Websites That Make For Good Brain Food

For every time I get sucked into clicking through another trashy celeb-related photo slideshow on The Huffington Post (I never learn), I try to balance my internet-surfing with some thought-provoking, intelligent content that replinishes at least half of the dead brain cells that shriveled away with every new picture of Lindsay Lohan sitting in the courtroom with her "fuck you" manicure.

Yes, I know. Waaaay easier said than done.

Which is why it’s important to celebrate online blogs, websites and communities that actually find an audience based on original, intelligent, creative content. I love me my crass celebrity gossip and bullshit horoscopes of the day, but I also love learning really wacky things about human psychology. Or innovative ways technology is helping improve the lives of people in impoverished countries. Or how visual language continues to evolve in how we consume information.

Here’s to online brain food, in alphabetical order, that doesn’t always stoop to the lowest common denominator. Also, I would love to hear your favorite online destinations for nourishing your curiosity as a passionate lifelong learner. School may be out for the summer, but fun learning never stops! 

Big Think. Steal the knowledge of the world’s biggest thinkers via essays, videos and articles across every field imaginable.

Boing Boing. The ultimate information porn for nerds and geeks. This blog is a never-ending reward of cool information nuggets pulled from all over the web, mixing in absurdity, profundity and relevant current events told from an interesting angle. Cat stealing women’s undewear? Jesus’s face spotted at a Canadian water park? Random video animation of street graffiti? I dig.

GOOD.is. Interested in doing the world some GOOD? Learn everything you need to know about helping do some good in the world through interesting articles, relevant videos, and their eyecandy infographics about the latest hot-topic issues. In addition to being an online destination for the do-gooder in you, GOOD is also a quarterly magazine with 100% of your subscription fee going to a charity or cause of your choice.

Information Is Beautiful. An ongoing curation of the latest and best infographics visualized into some cool eye candy. With information and data getting more and more complex, today’s visual thinkers are coming up with more and more challenging and innovative ways to convey statistics in graphical form. Even creation myths across different cultures can be summed up into a graphic composed of colorful symbols.

 Ode Magazine (www.odemagazine.com). Its slogan speaks for itself: "The online community for Intelligent Optimists." Tackling many social issues and current events from climate change to alternative medicine, Ode focuses on not just the problem ailing humanity, but the innovative solutions that the world’s pioneering scientists, human rights activisitsts, artists and everyday people are coming up with to make the world a better place for everybody. It isn’t every day you find a news site that makes you feel more intelligent AND more optimistic for humanity.

Vanguard. Streaming for free on Hulu.com, four news correspondents tackle challenging topics in their "no-limits" documentary series ranging from the cocaine mafia in Italy to the high levels of sexual assault taking place in Native American reservations across America. Every episode is an unforgettable rude awakening of what is going on in the world right this second.

WNYC – Radiolab. What happens in the afterlife? Do animals have souls? Do human limits exist? Podcasts about scientific curiosities combined with big philosophical questions, all condensed into hour-long episodes that can make your next long car ride or house-cleaning session a fun and enlightening experience.

Not in the mood for smarty stuff? Check out a list of 8 silly and absurd internet blogs for some major LOL.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / kalidoskopika

Why We Suffer

 How can someone who is at a low point in there life utilize your teachings?

www.youtube.com/user/BigMindNetwork#p/a/u/0/-_v61ho9Ztw

 

Genpo Roshi founded the Kanzeon Sangha, an international Zen community in 1984, with groups and centers throughout Europe and the U.S., and is abbot of Big Mind Western Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which he founded in 1993. He discovered the Big Mind process in 1999. His newest book is Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way.  His website is: www.bigmind.org

 

 

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