A German word I learned from my Chaucer professor during my undergrad.
It meant, she explained, world sadness. She said there was no word that captured it’s essense in English. She didn’t speak German, neither did I. But I understood.
The wikipedia entry, however, describes it in a more negative way than I have ever understood it. It is often associated with pessimism, sadness, depression, empathy. I understand it more as a word that “denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind” (wiki). Or you know those moments when you look around and think to yourself “this world is kinda f***** up”?
A French word that has been adopted by the English language.
I first learned this word while studying for the GRE exam. Naturally, I pronounced it Enn-oo-ee rather than the French Un-wee.
It is sometimes used synonymously with boredom, but the word “boredom” is, well, boring. I associate boredom with having nothing to do, or, a desire to move away from the mundane, repetitive things. Begging for a change of pace from the monotonous.
Ennui is described as “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest” (wiki). Lack of interest, emptiness, indifference.
This word came to mind this morning when I read an instant message from a supposed “admirer” that said “I don’t know how to impress you anymore”. It was followed by an exaggerated ode to the stars in my eyes and my wisps of my hair that apparently surpass the blowing wind… Clearly, he was mocking the stereotypical Arabic lover.I think he was was mocking me and my complete indifference to any earthly compliment.
It got me thinking on a few foreign words that began to feel so familiar.
Spanish word that rolls off one’s tongue like honey from it’s comb; slowly but heavy with temptation. In Spanish, it is often synonymous with pastries, dessert. Sometimes, it is used to describe an young naive girl. Lovers often whisper the word to one another with suggestive smiles.
I don’t understand this word as a dessert, per say. But rather as an “ad”-jective. A dulce is something small that you can add to something big in order to make it sweeter. Like adding sugar to your coffee, honey to your tea.
Like coffee and tea, life isn’t really sweet on it’s own, and perhaps this is where the concepts of weltschmertz and ennui dominate my perspective. Life is plain. What makes it beautiful and worth the while are the little dulces that drizzle over it from time to time.
Listening to a story from my father. Enjoying a meal by my mother. Receiving a wholesome hug from a laughing child. Having a heartfelt conversation with a friend. Waking up to birds after a long, dead winter. Finding the time and courage to kneel down and pray.
Dulces, como dos enamorados, laugh at the mundanity of life.