Failure of Language

I was talking with a friend the other day, and we were talking about something that she is doing that requires conquering her fears and facing additional fears. And I told her “I’m proud of you” but really, it’s not quite the right word to express how I felt.

It seemed a bit patronizing to say “I’m proud of you.” After all, she is not my child. I have nothing to do with her actions. I’m just a friend who is happy to know someone like her–and who feels lucky to have friends like her.

But “proud” is the only word I could think of. What I really wanted to say was: “I think what you’re doing is awesome and I’m impressed.” But, we don’t have a word (at least, I don’t know of a word) that can express all of that simply and eloquently.

It reminded me of the time when my friends were starting to lose their virginity. The first word that came to mind was “Congratulations!” But really, not quite the right sentiment. And I recognized then that it wasn’t quite the right word to fit the situation. I really want to say: “I’m so happy for you!” but even that is not quite right. In fact, I really can’t describe what I wanted to express–I suppose some sort of acknowledgment of happiness.

Another failure in language.

This reminds me of the fact that there are often times when I can’t find the right words in English. Granted, I think all languages have the same problem. But, there are times when I know the perfect word in Taiwanese–and I just can’t translate it. Grinchy has the same problem, except he knows the word in Spanish. It just doesn’t translate into English.

I suppose this is the language we are given. At least, hopefully we can still find some way to express the sentiment that we have in the imperfect language that we must use. Hopefully somehow we can communicate effectively, or at least acknowledge that sometimes there are awkward words we have to use instead.


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