Sometimes your own language is not adequate for that which you want to express.

For instance, when I listen to this song:

I get a feeling that I don’t think can be well captured in English.

You could say I feel “homesick”. But what I feel isn’t like a sickness. It is painful but beautiful at the same time.

Also “homesickness” implies my feelings are directed towards home. Well, they are, and this is a song about South Africa, but the feeling is more general than that. I think that people in South Africa who hear it will have the same feeling, and they aren’t exactly homesick, are they? I think that anyone who can understand this song will feel it, no matter who or where you are. This song is about growing up and the things that made you who you are.

You could say I “miss” home, but that implies that I’ve lost it. And I don’t think I have. The whole point is that you carry those things that made you, always, in jou hart.

What I feel is “verlange.” The Afrikaans word has connotations of “longing”. It is usually directed towards something. Ek verlang na… I long for… Home. Die stad van my geboorte. The city of my birth. Youth. Innocence, and the places where you lost it.

But right now I don’t think my verlange has any one object. It’s just a feeling in my gut and I think it’s an addiction.

I “verlang”. Ek verlang.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 08:37:41

    Someone famous (i.e. I have no idea who) once said that to learn another language is to gain another soul. Cheesy, but true. There is so much that can’t be said in English. And the feeling of verlangness is universal, but almost impossible to describe.


  2. Po
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 20:47:39

    Helen: I love that quote. I wish I spoke more languages. I remember when I used to dream in Afrikaans. I am trying to learn Portuguese, but so far I can only buy a coffee. Not very poetic ;)


  3. Dora
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 16:19:06

    Absolutely agree on the language thing. Because I speak Cantonese, I am VERY aware of how inadequate the English language is in words for subtle but important differences in expressions of feelings and attitudes, amongst others.

    For a generic English word, there could be multiple ways of saying it in Cantonese, each with different connotations.

    I was really frustrated in the UK because on a certain level, I felt like I was robbed of all these different ways to express myself.

    At the same time, there are things I express better in English.

    Even between Cantonese (language of Hong Kong and very southern China in general) and Mandarin (official language of China, think Beijing), Cantonese is far superior in its colourful vocabulary. My Mandarin teacher admited it as well. Cantonese is also far older than Mandarin. Yet, it is sad that the Chinese government isn’t supportive of local and regional differences and in it’s crazy desire for control, banned Cantonese broadcasting in China (not in HK) during the recent Asian Games.

    Oops. Sorry for this rant! :/


  4. Po
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 20:23:00

    Dora: no way, rant away, please, how else will I learn about things like Cantonese being older than Mandarin? I can’t beleieve, no wait, maybe I can, that the Chinese actually banned Cantonese broadcasting. That’s so weird it’s just not funny. Imagine in the UK, the whole world would come down on them for discrimination. Which it is :(


  5. Dora
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 16:23:20

    It’s sort of equivalent to the UK banning broadcasting in anything other than the Queen’s English if they’re hosting the Olympics coz, oh, I don’t know why the heck?!

    With the Chinese government – you better believe. ;)


  6. Po
    Dec 18, 2010 @ 19:43:22

    Oh my, could you imagine if they did that?! There would be a national outcry.


  7. Spear The Almighty
    Dec 19, 2010 @ 09:20:33

    Mooi gestel. Nou laat ek die hasepad kies voor my baas my opdons oordat ek heeldag blogs lees. Hy sê ek is ‘n tyd boef. :)


  8. Po
    Dec 19, 2010 @ 21:43:18

    Hehe Spear, gaan werk, hoer!


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