A piece by Emily Anthes on the New Yorker website this week noted that psychologist Tim Lomas has been compiling “words in foreign languages that described positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English.” His glossary includes nearly 400 words from 62 different languages, like Heimat a German word that denotes a “deep-rooted fondness towards a place to which one has a strong feeling of belonging”.
For those of us who speak English, the linguistic introduction to new positive concepts is a blessing. One of the many factors that influences our thoughts are the words that we hear around us, and we are shaped by the conceptual understanding of reality that arises from them. If we are listening to hateful speech on a regular basis, we will have hateful language bouncing around in our skull and coloring our perception of life. As Siddhartha Gautama noted a few thousand years ago, “Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.”
It’s a long shot, but I hope to hear the word dadirri more often, particularly during campaign season. It’s a term from Aboriginal Australian that describes “a deep, spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening.”