L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
That feeling you get when you leave a conversation and
think of all the things you should have said.
There is no word in the English language for this.
I think it’s weird and really sad that this feeling never got its own word in the English language (not in the Norwegian one either, for that sake.) I’m probably not the only one who walk around for days thinking about things I could have said instead of the stupid and thoughtless thing that I did say? I always imagine how the conversation would have ended if I said this or maybe even that…?
When I think about it, it’s actually many feelings there is no word for in the English language. In my opinion English is a poor language. It’s easy to learn (unlike for example German or French), and that’s a good thing. But is it as describing? Is it as poetic and beautiful? No, it’s not. For me, who loves words, it would me much more enjoyable to write and read if there were more English words!
I’m using Greek as an example of a rich language. Greek is super precise! In English, you use “to love” for all kinds of love, but Greek have four different words for it, all with different meanings:
- a brotherly love- Storge.
- a sexual love- Eros. In English this is often translated to “erotic”, but it’s not quite the same, because the eros does not necessarily have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone you love more than the friendship love, Phileo.
- a love of God/unconditional love- Agape.
- a friendship kind of love- Phileo. This word includes loyalty to your friends, family and community. This word is amazing. It has so much underlying meaning.
Now, let’s take a look at other feelings that there’s no word for in English… You know when you’re caringly running your fingers through someone’s hair? In Brazilian Portuguese, that’s called Cafuné.
I have a long distance relationship; my boyfriend lives on the other side of the country. The feeling of happiness I get when I meet him again after a long time is in French called Retrouvailles, and it’s a great feeling. It deserves an own word and a place in the English language too! Another cool word is Ilunga, which is a Bantu-word. Ilunga is a person who is willing to forgive(!) mistreatment the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time. This last feeling I’m going to write about is a feeling that I’m sure many of you’ve felt before. La Douleur Exquise(French). This is the heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have. I just… I really wish for more words. The more the merrier.