Saturday, 19 January 2013


Language is limited. Our vocabulary is finite. There is only so much we can say. Many words in other languages simply cannot be translated into English without losing their meaning and vice versa. Expressing yourself - talking - can be difficult when you can't find the right words. I'm a lover of English, a reader of things, a writer of stuff, but sometimes I find it really hard to say what I want or need to say. 

We sometimes find ourselves umm-ing and ahhing and going off on tangents and just being really inarticulate because our mind is scrambling to find the right words. Sure, some words are close enough, but sometimes you need the right words, and 'close enough' won't do. For a while, when friends asked me how I was, I would reply with "I don't know". Not because I didn't know, since deep down I knew how I was (though sometimes I really had no clue), but because words like 'great', 'good', 'fine' or 'not too great' were never entirely accurate. They just did not, and sometimes still don't, express what I'm feeling or what I'm thinking. In fact, they're stunting. I've finally dropped "I don't know" as a reply to "how are you?" because I was (unintentionally) confusing and worrying the hell out of some people. So, what am I meant to say? I feel indescribable. Things are indescribable. Beyond words. Inexpressible. It's incommunicable. I just am. I am.

But it's easier to say "I'm good, thanks".

While I love a good conversation, I love silence even more. Comfortable silence. Actions. Facial expressions. Eye contact. Just basking in someone's presence without the pressure to talk. People often feel the need to talk constantly - to fill the silence - but silence isn't a bad thing. It only becomes awkward if you think it's awkward. Sometimes, the greatest words are the words you never said.

I stumbled upon a blog called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows a while ago. It's a dictionary of made-up words for things, feelings and thoughts we experience but don't have words for in English.

It's not extensive at all and whoever runs it only posts every while or so, but I like to go back sometimes and scroll through to read - just to relate to something, to check out if I've felt that way recently, to be like 'yes, exactly!' 

Some of my favourite words from Obscure Sorrows are posted below. Have a look at the site. You might relate to some, or all. Make up some of your own too.

And my own contribution:

n. the state of hesitation and mental blankness when your mind is hopelessly searching itself for the right words - often non-existent - to properly express how you feel.


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