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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Pdf Book Name: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Author: John Koenig
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-10, 13: 1501153641,9781501153648
Year: 2021
Pages: 288 pages
Language: English
File size: 20 MB
File format: PDF,EPUB

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows Pdf Book Description:

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of new words for emotions. Its mission is to shine a light on the fundamental strangeness of being a human being all the aches, demons, vibes, joys, and urges that are humming in the background of everyday life. It’s a calming thing, to learn there’s a word for something you’ve felt all your life but didn’t know was shared by anyone else. It’s even oddly empowering to be reminded that you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, you’re just an ordinary human being trying to make your way through a bizarre set of circumstances. That’s how the idea for this book was born, in that jolt of recognition you feel when learning certain words for emotions, especially in languages other than English: hygge, saudade, duende, ubuntu, schadenfreude. Some of these terms might well be untranslatable, but they still have the power to make the inside of your head feel a little more familiar, at least for a moment or two. It makes you wonder what else might be possible what other morsels of meaning could’ve been teased out of the static, if only someone had come along and given them a name. Of course, we don’t usually question why a language has words for some things and not others.

We don’t really imagine we have much choice in the matter, because the words we use to build our lives were mostly handed to us in the crib or picked up on the playground. They function as a kind of psychological programming that helps shape our relationships, our memory, even our perception of reality. As Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world. ”But therein lies a problem. Language is so fundamental to our perception, we’re unable to perceive the flaws built into language itself. It would be difficult to tell, for example, if our vocabulary had fallen badly out of date, and no longer described the world in which we live. We would feel only a strange hollowness in our conversations, never really sure if we’re being understood. The dictionary evolves over time, of course. New words are coined as needed, emerging one by one from the test lab of our conversations. But that process carries a certain bias, only giving names to concepts that are simple, tangible, communal, and easy to talk about. Emotions are none of these. As a result, there’s a huge blind spot in the language of emotion, vast holes in the lexicon that we don’t even know we’re missing. We have thousands of words for deferent types of finches and schooners and historical undergarments, but only a rudimentary vocabulary to capture the delectable subtleties of the human experience.

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