NZTC International Word of the Week: saudade

NZTC International Word of the Week: saudade


NZTC International Word of the Week: saudade

Having an “untranslatable” word in one’s language can be a badge of pride, a sign of exclusivity, a feeling of possessing something that people from another culture cannot quite grasp.

Both the meaning and the origin of the word saudade are disputed and argued over. So to try to convey the sense of this word without stepping into an intellectual debate, here are just a few examples of how people have tried to explain the feeling behind the word:

… not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness

… when a sound or smell fills you with a sense of wistful joy

… the concretisation of love through absence

… a saudade é a nossa alma dizendo para onde ela quer voltar

… a melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened

… a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy

… an incompleteness that one unconsciously wants to never completely resolve

Obviously many other cultures have feelings similar to these, so on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s our way of “translating” saudade.