The missing words

In the cinema dialect, we often talk about the “missing picture” to give credit to an artistic project aiming at showing on big screens minorities until then invisible or not visible enough.

A lot of books thrive on bookstores’ shelves to unveal words that we would be missing. I tend to think that those nonexistent words were not produced because a given culture did not need them, there was no use for those. The concepts behind those words did not recquire them to be imported or invented. Yet languages naturally import lots of words each year that lexicographers later add to dictionaries.

The interest of these foreign linguistic realities is elsewhere, in the joy to discover another culture through its words, more intimately. Each language tends to highlight certain feelings, phenomenons and realities, lives by all, but more or less linguistically formalised.

Here are a few examples out of a very good little book, Tsundico* (that is to say ‘the accumulation of piles of books never to be read”) as described by the author, Sabine Duhamel :

  • INCHOATE : (English – does not exist in French) vague idea, so blury and unprecise that one cannot put it into words.
    • In those moments, only the silence of a blank space in a conversation, no matter how inconfortable, can allow the idea to settle softly on the surface of one thoughts.
  • GOYA : (Urdu) temptation to believe a story to be real when it is very well told.
    • It reinforces the idea of humans as storytellers.
  • FORMACJA : (Polish) all the common traits of a generation: culture, ideology, habits, etc
    • If I say “Minikeums”, all the people of my generation in France will identify, or let’s say Star Trek for another.
  • DUENDE : (Spanish) being captivated by a work of art, the unexplainable power of an artwork on someone.
    • It reminds me of the concept of “aura” developed by Walter Benjamin. What would have happened had he been Spanish?

To be continued…

*Where to find the book (if you speak French):

Bonus :

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