Written by the experts at language learning app Babbel (www.babbel.com).
As the days get shorter and the air gets colder, we are now well and truly moving into autumn. This time of year can be hectic even in normal circumstances, with the kids going back to school and peak holiday season receding into the distance. However, this year there is added stress, with Covid-19 still dominating the headlines and lockdown measures affecting everyone’s daily lives. It’s hardly surprising that many are feeling anxious about the coming months, but it can be hard to express this feeling, or know how to combat it. To help us tackle the next few weeks, the linguistic and cultural experts at language learning app Babbel (www.babbel.com) have shared some phrases from around the world that can offer a new way to think about our own situation.
Pаспуутица (Rasputitsa) is a Russian word used to describe the autumn, although it can also sometimes refer to spring. Rasputitsa comes from the prefix раз (undone) and the word путь (way/road) and it may have some connection to Rasputin, whose name derives from the word for “crossroads,” распутье. It means “season of bad roads”, as the autumn is when the roads can become muddy, slippy and treacherous. Although our own roads are less affected by the damp autumn weather, the term can also be useful as a more metaphorical description of the season. A “season of bad roads” is a good way to describe the difficulties that many people are facing at the moment. While the potential for bad decisions and wrong turns is heightened, it is important to remember that, like the rain, the current pressures we are all facing will eventually pass.
So, how to deal with this sense of unease around the next few months? Some other untranslatable words from around the world may help those looking for a way to keep their spirits up amongst the autumnal gloom. The ideal of wabi-sabi is a Japanese lifestyle tradition, encouraging people to boost their wellbeing by looking for the beautiful moments of everyday life. Stemming from this concept, the japanese word Seijaku refers to taking a moment in the day to pause and appreciate your surroundings. This way of thinking provides a method for relaxing, even in the midst of a tumultuous time.
Alternatively, the term Ayurnamat from the Inuit language Inuktitut may help to provide a more pragmatic view on global events at the moment. It can be roughly translated as a more hopeful version of the phrases “that’s life” or “what’s done is done”. It adopts the same attitude of acceptance but with a sense that there is no point worrying about things that you cannot change. Given the harsh and unpredictable climates that Inuit people live in, it certainly makes sense that they might want to keep a sense of perspective in the face of adversity. This may provide some small comfort for those trying to be more positive about the world at the moment, as it affirms the importance of trying to look for change in parts of your life that you can control, while avoiding fretting about global events that we cannot change.