Updated: Feb 16
In what seems to have been an overlong winter, with some stunning days, but mainly lots of rain and an absence of colour, backed up by social media’s pining, I got to wondering if any language has a single word that means ‘longing for summer/spring’. I was sure the Japanese would, failing that the Norwegians – they are the usual go-to languages for wonderful single word descriptions. Surprisingly, I could find no such word in any language. It seems odd, as it is a feeling we all have, particularly in monochrome winters like this. Personally, I love the winter with its verdant greens, bare architecture and openness, but even I have this longing occasionally. I was disappointed – no word exists! So I have made one up - Sommersuche. I’m sure it’ll catch on and be in common usage in a few years’ time.
My search for the word did throw up these gems though – words from particular languages that express succinctly what it takes other languages a whole sentence to do:
Tsundoku (Japanese): Leaving a book unread after buying it.
Bakku-shan (Japanese): A beautiful girl— as long as she’s being looked at from behind.
Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut.
Trepverter (Yiddish): A witty comeback you think of only when it’s too late to use.
Fernweh (German): Feeling homesick for a place you have never been to.
Tingo (Pascuense): To gradually steal all the possessions out of a neighbour’s house by borrowing and not returning.
Mangata (Swedish): The glimmering, road-like reflection that the moon creates on the water.
Gökotta (Swedish): To wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing.
Tartle (Scottish): The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.
PS Mozart did, un-famously, write ‘Longing for Spring’ (or ‘Komm, Lieber Mai’, at least), but what was this girl thinking of, miming to it in a boat in the middle of summer? Decent enough oarswoman though.
In her defence, I’m not sure it is the best song ever. I mean, the chronology seems all wrong, though winter does sound bleak! I think I feel sorry for Lotte too!