I often receive emails from people telling me that they are about to travel solo for the first time.
This gives me feelings of fargenign.
I had not heard of this word until I told a friend how great it is to hear from people — to learn that they are excited to be traveling solo — and how happy I am for them. He said “that's fargenign”. Fargenign (one of several spellings) means joy in Yiddish but is making its way over into English with the more specific meaning of ‘taking pleasure in another person's happiness'.
It made me think that there are many times that another language has one succinct and effective word for an experience that requires a paragraph to explain in English. Recognizing that my experience only goes so far, I did what I always do in situations like these. I asked the Solo Travel Society for their knowledge and experience. Many people shared words they have learned while traveling and have stuck with them for being unique.
Solo Travel Society Shares Words From Their Travels
- Waymon – Jayus – From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.
- Michelle – Gemuetlichkeit in German, means the very nice and warm feeling you get from a cozy house or family. It's been used to describe many things that have a happy and warm feeling to it (like a relationship, a warm welcome, etc).
- Karen – Schadenfreude in German is joy in others' misfortune. (This is the opposite of my new found word.)
- Katy – Saudade – a Portuguese word describing a very Portuguese feeling of melancholy and longing, originally used to describe the feeling women had watching their husbands sail off on long empire-building voyages, not knowing if they would see them again. Also the very sweet, if odd, Spanish phrase: Te quiero un huevo. It literally means: I love you an egg. I've yet to come up with a suitable translation
- Robin – In the Wilo tribe in Africa, there is no word for ‘no'.
- Linda – I confess that German isn't a language of which I'm overly fond (did it in school and much preferred French (and now Spanish)) but here's yet another German word: sehnsucht. It is usually translated as “longing” but it kind of means the kind of longing for the impossible, something out of reach. Why does German have all these great words?
- Jeffrey – Tabarnac…never found any word like it.
- Sara – Bon apetite -I love it and that there are versions of this in many other languages.. but not English.
- Kaye – Years ago I picked up a great little book, They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases (The Writer's Studio) It's full of both funny and insightful words that often reveal so much about a culture. But my favorite one is the Italian “sprezzatura”–the art of making all your effort and striving seem absolutely effortless.