After a bit of a search for the word Muditā to describe the feeling of looking through others achievements in the weekend’s Strava logs, it was interesting to see Tim Lomas’ project on Positive Lexicography, and his journey to collect these expressions;

❝… The conference ended the next day, but Lomas kept thinking about sisu. There must be other expressions like it, he thought—words in foreign languages that described positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English. Wouldn’t it be fascinating, he wondered, to gather all these in one place? ❞ [1]

Which became a larger project of collecting positive foreign words that lack English equivalents, so that others could start adding these words to their vocabulary.

❝ For my own part, this burgeoning cross-cultural sensitivity has focused on language. More specifically, I have begun to create a lexicography of so-called ‘untranslatable words’ relating to wellbeing, gathered from across the world’s cultures. The general premise of the lexicography is that a culture’s values and traditions are encoded in its language, which in turn shapes the experiences and understanding of that culture’s members, a perspective broadly referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The more specific premise of the lexicography is that untranslatable words – words for which English purportedly lacks an equivalent term – offer a unique window onto concepts that may be particular to a given culture (Wierzbicka, 1997). Moreover, I speculate that this lexicography might help people (from all cultures) to develop a richer interior world, and experience and express new dimensions of wellbeing. This claim will require a programme of empirical inquiry to substantiate it. ❞ [3]


Outdoors collated ’15 Words Every Outdoor Lover Should Know’ [5]; here are my top five.

✎ Að nenna (Icelandic, v.): The ability or willingness to persevere through tasks that are hard or boring

✎ Erlebnis (German, n.): Living fully, experiencing life deeply and intensely in the here and now

✎ Peiskos (Norwegian, n.): lit. ‘Fireplace coziness,’ sitting in front of a crackling fireplace enjoying the warmth

✎ Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) (Japanese, n.): ‘Bathing’ in the forest (literally and/or metaphorically)

✎ Uitwaaien (Dutch, v.): lit. ‘To walk in the wind’; to go out into the countryside (e.g., clear one’s head)


[1] The Glossary of Happiness (2016-May-12) [The New Yorker]
[3] Positive psychology – the second wave July 2016 Vol.29 (pp.536-539) [The Psychologist]
[4] Collecting Positive Foreign Words That Lack English Equivalents (2016-Apr-01) [Scientific American]
[5] 15 Words Every Outdoor Lover Should Know (But Doesn’t) (2016-May-26) [Outside]

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