Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Thought this might interest those linguists of my friends.

Saudade (pronounced saw-oo-da-ji) is my favorite Portuguese word, unless you're judging strictly by cuteness of the word, in which case it's abacaxi (pineapple-- pronounced ah-ba-ka-shi) or by frequency of word use, in which case it's probably querido/a (dear one-- pronounced ke-ri-do).

This word has been on my mind lately. It even has its own Wikipedia entry, located here. Apparently saudade was ranked in the top ten of most difficult words to translate... in the whole world (interesting list, by the way!).

The simple definition is "homesickness," but if you follow the link you'll see it's more complicated. I think they define it well, as "feeling of longing for something you are fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future." It's a word of hope and love, I think.

I think words are an incredible gift from God, and carry enormous power. That's why I feel that "political correctness" (a terrible phrase with negative connotation), or let's say "lexical sensitivity", is so important. Words shape the way we view the world, connect with other people, and oftentimes praise God. God brought the creation into being through speaking words, Jesus spoke words to calm the storm, raise the dead, heal the sick, and teach us to pray. Consider these verses:

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. --Proverbs 15:4

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. -- James 3: 3-12

I'm thankful that English is a language that borrows words from so many other languages to help get the exact definition. I'm thankful to have other languages to borrow words from when they're more appropriate. And I'm thankful for good times and good friends who give me the fond memories, teaching me exactly what saudade is.


Jessica said...

Wow, Ann! After I read your blog, I felt like I do after I hear a great, thought-provoking sermon on Sunday morning. Thank you for your words!
I am so happy that you update your blog a lot. I can keep up with you better.
As much as your uncomfortable with your mullet, I still wish I could see it. I'll be back in a month. Could you keep it the way it is until I get there? Or just send me a picture.
I love you so much, mullet and all!

crittermer said...

Awhhhh. . .I remember when we were in Brazil and first learned about saudade as a word! I believe Daniela told us about it orginally? Kind of makes me feel some saudade!

Interesting research, though, and such a true post. It makes me long for heaven and a time when we'll have a whole new vocabulary with which to praise God, not being "bound" by any one language!

Anonymous said...

Ben says:
Ann, how many times do I have to tell you, it is Ab-uh-ca-xi.