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hiybbprqag, moledro, kairosclerosis, sonder

Wednesday, 27 November, 2013

“An original lexicon of emotions we don’t have words for,” is what John Koenig calls his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Take, for example, his noun trumspringa, which means “the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin, just the kind of hypnotic diversion that allows your thoughts to make a break for it and wander back to their cubicles in the city.” And then there’s sonder, “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.”

Those who know their German will be aware that the prefix sonder means “special”, so it’s nice to see John Koenig porting it over to English and giving it a new twist. This lexical traffic flows both ways, of course, and the English adjective that means “very useful or helpful” has been reinterpreted by German as its word for mobile phone.


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