Lost in translation

Various languages have words that don’t really translate into English. Two in particular, have been conspicuous in the media during the last couple of years:

cwtch (noun) /kʊtʃ/ Welsh : (1) a cupboard or cubbyhole. (2) a cuddle or hug.

hygge (noun) /h(j)uːɡə/ Danish : a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.

Cwtch is more than a cuddle or hug. It is a warmth, a sense of comfort and acceptance, knowing that what surrounds you has reciprocal value. Likewise, hygge is about both a physical and emotional state of belonging. It’s not difficult to see why both words might be so popular at the moment.

There is another, again from Welsh, that rings loud (or perhaps, more softly) with me:

hiraeth (noun) /ˈhɪərʌɪθ/ Welsh : a deep longing for a something, somewhere or someone which can never be revisited.

It is particularly apt in terms of physical affection. And not necessarily just sex.

Being of a certain age, the familial generations that preceded me have all gone.
The generation that follows is wallowing in teenage hormones, and parental affection is routinely shunned.
I’ve never really know what it is like to be close to one’s siblings.
And my marriage … well, Dear Reader … you know that story.

Hiraeth.

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