As robust as the English language is, I am always a bit relieved when it comes up short. How nice to think that when we search for a word to explain some nuance of the human experience, that some other language might have just what we need.  For example, it is greatly comforting that the Japanese have a word for looking worse after a haircut.  The word "age-otori" reassures me that I'm not the only one this happens to.

I want you (and everyone you know) to know about my favorite untranslatable Danish word, "hygge." If all we had was the English word "cozy" your life would be less rich I am sure. So, let's hear from the Danes about hygge:

I've got a pretty firm grasp on cozy. It's hot chocolate and sock knitting. It's big sweaters and long novels. But the word "hygge", perhaps because of its foreignness, suggests that we should try to translate it. We should try to cultivate a hygge atmosphere. We should explicate its relational quality. It is having a sip of your friend's hot chocolate and knitting a sock for your brother. It is wearing your boyfriend's sweater and reading a favorite passage out loud.

Hygge. Say it often. Say it together. And let a new kind of coziness be found in its translation.


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