People who are lucky enough to speak more than one language will understand how particularly satisfying it can be to express their emotions in another language.
Emotions and bilingualism plays out differently for different individuals and in distinct language areas. Bilinguals, or multilinguals, are often not even aware that they’ve just said “I love you”, or expressed pain, or cussed in a language that is not their native tongue.
Read more about Emotions in more than one language in this interesting article published in Psychology Today
Sometimes, the words for an emotion are simply not adequate, or don’t even exist in one’s native tongue. For example, expressing a yearning and longing for the Motherland – “toska” – for most Russians is not something that can be expressed easily in English.
The Russian/American novelist, Vladmir Nabokov, describes it best:
“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
A somewhat equivalent word in French might be “dépaysement” which describes the feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.
Some of our other favourite words with no English equivalent include: