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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > January 2020 > The nuances of delight

The nuances of delight

Vanessa King of Action for Happiness, author of 10 Keys to Happier Living, recommends Happiness Found In Translation by Tim Lomas
ILLUSTRATION: LESLEY BUCKINGHAM

Research shows that the more specific we can be in naming our emotions, the more we are able to deal with them. Language, Tim Lomas says, gives us a ‘map’ that enables us to ‘chart and navigate’ our experience of the world and what’s happening inside us. Dierent languages evolve within several cultural and geographic contexts, the demands and nature of which give rise to various ways of describing the experiences of those within it. As a result, ‘semantic gaps’ develop between one language and another. When we encounter a culture that has a word that can’t be directly translated, but more fully describes a familiar experience, those words are gradually absorbed into our language. Estimates suggest that 41 per cent of English words came from other countries. For example, you may have heard the Danish word hygge rather a lot in English – a deep sense of contentment, cosiness and even existential security.

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