When you think about the etymology of words don’t you wonder how words for emotions and more complex phenomenon evolved?

I often wonder who coined the term ‘Happy’ or its predecessors in various languages. I would have loved to have been present there to experience the indefinable joy of knowing what to call that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of one’s stomach.

Sadness, perhaps simply definable as the absence of happiness, but oh so much more. Every emotion such a complex phenomenon that to label it with a word somehow lessens it.




Love, or any of its variants, how undefinable is that? There are thousands and thousands of definitions out there but I would like to describe my own knowledge of non-platonic love, based on my experience or lack thereof. I love her, but who is she and why exactly do I love her? She is the object of my desire, the one I truly love. But where is she? There she is!!  A semiconscious dream hidden in the alleys of my mind. She escapes my notice time and again and the hollowness I feel because of that non-attributable pain somehow stays with me. But I know not who she is or will be or whether she would ever exist. Perhaps she would remain a figment of my imagination or somehow manifest to assuage my unnamed quest.

undefined love

Words string together a sentence undefinable yet remotely recognizable to each. The meaning may vary with the individual perspective but what a magical thing language is, a fountain of knowledge and expression contained in perhaps the most important invention of mankind. To the caveman who scratched on the wall for the first time and the maker of the first Hieroglyph I salute you and envy you. May our words multiply and heal the deepest of wounds and assuage the most restless of souls. This is my homage to language and words therein; our succour , our tormentor and our saviour but most of all what enables us to define everything and nothing.old languageTo conclude: More than anything I could write, this excerpt from the movie ‘Waking Life’ sums it up-

“Creation comes out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. This is where, I think, language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some connection with one another. It had to be easy when it was just simple survival. “Water.” We came up with a sound for that. “Sabretooth tiger behind you!” We made a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting, I think is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things we’re experiencing. What is “frustration”? Or what is “anger” or “love”? When I say “love” the sound comes out of my mouth and hits the other person’s ear travels through the byzantine conduit in their brain through their memories of love or lack of love. They say they understand, but how do I know? Because words are inert. They’re just symbols. They’re dead. You know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It’s unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another and we feel we have connected and think we’re understood I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling may be transient, but I think it’s what we live for.”

By- Aseem Mahajan

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