Can you translate the word, please?
By living in a different country, than the one we were raised in, there is an everyday –sometimes hidden but always there- obstacle, which can cause troubles, frustration and misunderstanding; the language that is. No matter, how good we understand the meaning, the tempo, the structure and the grammar of a foreign language, we will forever be hostages of our own mother language. However, like Geoffrey Williams said once, “You can never understand one language, until you understand at least two.”
Talking out of experience and having to learn German from scratch in an age with a fully developed brain, I fully understand all the difficulties, disappointments and the feeling of being defeated that one has to face in order to express his/her thinking in a foreign language. Mir fehlen die Wörter means I can not find the right words to express my self. And this is exactly what this article is about. We try to find beautiful German words -well, Wenedi is based in Austria- that can not be easily or can not be translated with one word in English. Oh, the magic of German language!
· das Fernweh:
For me, one of the most beautiful words of German language. It consists of two smaller words, -fern- that means remote, far, distant and -Weh- that means pain, ache. Fernweh describes the feeling of longing for a place that is not where you are at the moment. It describes the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else or craving to travel. In few words, it is a kind of homesickness (Heimweh), but for other places. To cure the Fernweh, one must go on holidays and escape the routine. So, if you find yourself, complaining about everything in your monotonous routine, you might just got the Fernweh. The cure? Ask for holidays.
If you have ever been in a situation that you have to apologize for the behavior of an other person, friend or relative, then you know exactly what this word means. Fremd in German means foreign, external, unfamiliar and the word Fremdschämen, describes the shame that someone feels when he/she sees someone around him –most of the times, someone that he/she knows, however it is not obligatory- acting like a fool, inappropriate and embarrassing. Itis the feeling of being ashamed, not because of the actions that you just did or the words you just said, but because of the words or the actions of someone else around you.
The term was coined by the German romantic author Jean Paul and became very popular amongst romantic authors. The depressive feeling one experience by comparing the actual state of the word with an ideal state or the anxiety caused by the ills of the world, can be described in German with one word; Weltschmerz. To make a long story short, Weltschmerz is the feeling that someone goes through, when he/she realizes that the world is not fair, the universe has not their back and life is disappointing; and with more poetic words, it is the belief that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. Kind of depressing, I would say.
Well, I would guess the next stage of experiencing Weltschmerz is getting Lebensmüdigkeit. Originally the word was once again used by young romantic poems to describe the dramatic, soul- crushing agony of living. Lebensmüde is literally translated in English as tired of life. I would dare to say, it was an early word to indicate the symptoms of depression. Nowadays, the word is mainly used to describe a situation, when someone is attempting something stupid and probably life-threatening forced by his or her need to get an adrenaline rush in order to feel alive. Next time you wonder why people try extreme sport, think of Lebensmüdigkeit.
To be fair there is an English expression that can translate the pre-stage of Kummerspeck pretty well; to ‘eat my feelings’ (in German, Frustfressen) that is. In other words, it is the state of consuming large amount of good/ comfort food, when a person is feeling really emotional and down. However, Kummerspeck is the result of this activity. It literally means the excess weight put on by emotional overeating. The word again like all the others above, consists of two smaller words; der Kummer, which refers to emotional pain like sorrow, worry or anxiety and der Speck that either means bacon or fat. It is a situation that can a lot of people experience after the end of a relationship or during times of extreme sadness or worry. And to be honest, been there, done that; who has not after all?
I know learning a foreign language is a tough, never-ending and sometimes terrifying process. However, there is not a more satisfying feeling than expressing yourself exactly and correctly in a foreign language. So, keep the hard work up!