Wacky Word Wednesday

Wacky Word Wednesday – Hiraeth

Have you ever encountered a longing for a place, a feeling of homesickness for the unknown? You may have traveled somewhere and felt the distant hills tugging at your bones, or felt an unfamiliar sensation as the air filled your lungs and taught you that the fragrance of certain grounds on Earth can be unknown yet so familiar.  This sensation, so urgent yet so uncomplicated, may just have a definition.

quo topHiraeth[HEER-eyeth]-noun

Homesickness, or an intense longing for a home you can’t return to, or that never was

quo botHiraeth

At numerous occasions, many have stood face to face with a feeling that could be described as nostalgia, if it weren’t combined with an intense feeling of homesickness. Hiraeth is a Welsh word, with no exact translation into English. It has multiple definitions, although at face value it is explained as an intense form of longing or nostalgia. When moving away from the first definition, the meaning of the word becomes much deeper. Hiraeth:  a longing for one’s homeland, stronger than mere homesickness. It is said to be an expression of a bond you feel with a place, whether it is your home country or a destination that feels like your home country when you are away from it.

The only word with a similar meaning is the Portuguese term saudade, however hiraeth is said to imply an even deeper and more irrational longing for a time or place that never was.   Although this word is notoriously known as difficult to translate, the following poem by Tim Davis makes an attempt at defining it:

Hiraeth beckons with wordless call, Hear, my soul, with heart enthrall’d. Hiraeth whispers while earth I roam; Here I wait the call “come home.”  

So next time you face this feeling of nostalgia over the unknown, at least you’ll know one thing- how to describe that feeling.  That’s it for today, but stay tuned for more wacky word fun! ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. If you’re interested in learning more about CSOFT’s translation and localization solutions, don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed for automatic updates.

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