Preamble: I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now – Having come across a collection of some of the most evocative words in languages other than English that have no direct equivalents – and each of which having struck a chord in me – I’m going to post them a couple at a time, with explanations (not mine) and complementary visuals, for you to savour. And a request to all readers – can we make this interactive, where you can also contribute some more in languages you speak / know, which I will compile?
Here goes… when Koi No Yokan leads to Mamihlapinatapei leads to Forelsket
Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.
This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.
Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.
Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.
Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.
This is a wonderful term for that blissful state, when all your senses are acute for the beloved, the pins and needles thrill of the novelty. There’s a phrase in English for this, but it’s clunky. It’s “New Relationship Energy,” or NRE.