I came across this today. It’s so interesting to see how there are certain human concepts which have a particular word in some languages, but which have somehow been left out in English!
In particular the Japanese seem to have some words which we could perhaps really do with?
Tsundoku - leaving a book unread after buying it
Wabi-sabi - finding a beauty in imperfection
Komorebi - the sunlight that filters down through the leaves of a tree
Bakku-shan - a girl who is only beautiful when seen from behind (gulp! :-0)
Age-otori - to look worse after having a haircut
No doubt there are many others too?
They are very interesting examples to know about. Being a fan of languages, I always like hearing about examples of the richness of human languages.
However, I would dispute this idea or impulse to “appropriate” every word that summarizes a whole idea. Language is supposed to work by putting words together, creating sentences. Trying to replace every idea by a word or fixed expression detracts from the power and flexibility of this system.
All those “terse” ways of expression tend to become clichés and encourage a lazy and simplistic way of expressing concepts. That is especially the case when you just borrow a foreign phrase, leaving behind the culture, history and associtations that go with them, but I think it’s a more general phenomenon.
“When I first saw Paul, it was from a some distance and he struck me as very attractive. That impression vanished after we began interacting”.
“Paul. Wow! A total bakku-shan. Lol!”
[Notice I use an example with a man, you also borrow the implicit sexism along with the graphic expression"
George Orwell made a good point about how accumulating and using fixed expressions results in bland and hardly comprehensible utterances.
I often thin that we’d be better off with fewer words, rather than more.
It would be interesting to know whether ‘bakku-shan’ could apply equally to a man as to a woman? Maybe a native speaker could tell us this?
I think - if it does indeed only apply to women - then that may be because men (just in general terms) often tend to be more ‘visual’ than women? That is to say, women may - as a rule - base their attraction to males on a combination of qualities, whereas many men perhaps tend to place greater emphasis just on the physical appearance of females? (BTW I’m not saying that this my position - I just raise the question!)
I do think that some of these (although, of course, not all!) could be quite useful borrowings in English.
For example, I myself do tend to suffer from ‘tsundoku’ - and it might be useful if I could remind myself of this with one quirky word next time I’m hovering around in a bookstore!
BTW There are some interesting things from other languages too!
L’appel du vide - the urge to leap from high places. (Like base jumping maybe?)