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Posted Wed Feb 25th, 2009 4:19pm Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language
Someone a lot cleverer than me once said "The limits of my language are the limits of my world" (Alexander von Humbold for once but I'm sure there are many others) and up until quite recently I accepted it without question. It seemed logical to me that our language preshapes what we percieve, that we only see what we know exists and we only know it exists because we have a name for it.

But then a friend of mine who studies Japanese told me of a word the Japanese have called "Mono no aware". She described it as the feeling one has when sitting in the garden after a good day, the sun is slowly setting and it is raining. Wikipedia says it's "the awareness of mujo or the transience of things and a bittersweet sadness at their passing." (

Neither english nor german has an adequate expression for it, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced this feeling and puzzled about it for some time. I'm not saying that Humbold was wrong, I'm just saying it's courious that I have experienced something I should'nt have because I can't name it.

On the other hand I use a word like "love" all the time, I theoretically know what it means and I can recognize it in others but I am not sure I've ever experienced it myself. So naturally, I'm confused. Did I miss something vital? I confess that I haven't studied Humbold properly, only read a little of his writings in school and I also haven't kept up with the literature since. As this podgram is about language I hope you don't mind me bothering you here, but feel free shuffle this to the appropriate location or delete it if it's out of place.

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Posted Fri Feb 27th, 2009 4:28pm Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language

"HELLO I'M TACTILE !" is an anagram of my name

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Posted Sat Nov 7th, 2009 5:42pm Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language

Sometimes words are highly inadequate and limiting when we attempt describe sensations or feelings. Love is one of the most overused words of our time...there are different kinds and the experience is surely different for can't define it as any one particular sensation or experience.

The no aware experience is something that you, I and many others have no doubt experienced... even if one word for this does not exist wikipedia used several to describe it as 'the awareness of the transience of all things and a bittersweet sadness at their passing'. this communicated the sensation well enough to me. I think we all subconsciously feel this often.

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Posted Fri Oct 1st, 2010 5:01pm Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language

I love this subject - I find that studying languages and the concepts expressed within them brings a greater understanding of other cultures and crystalizes reality for us.

I just wish the educators in residence would take note and implement second language learning at an early age to allow children to grow up understanding that consciousness/reality isn't confined to the English language.

Understanding how lifestyle/different cultures influence the language used by that culture, gives a deeper understanding of how to approach understandings between people from different backgounds and will hopefully lead to less crass generalisations and more acceptance.

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Posted Fri Oct 1st, 2010 9:40pm Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language

The question was and still is which of the following is true:

1.) Our language shapes our thoughts. We cannot understand concepts that cannot be covered by our language. Differences in culture are also a result of diffences in language. Pretty much what Orwell's Newspeak in 1984 was about.

2.) Our thoughts shape our language. A new concept will, on the long run, lead to a new word. That some languages have different sets of vocabulary (I don't know how else to put this) is a result of cultural differences.

I think it's somewhere in between. There are concepts that are easier for us to grasp because of our native language, because there is a word for them and they are therefore referred to on a at least semi-regular basis. You don't hear much about things that you don't have a word for. You can, however, still think and experience them, and more often than not describe them with other words. There is no word for "mono no aware" in English or German, still I can feel it. And sooner or later, someone will come up with a word for the new concept, if it is relevant and common enough. Newspeak wouldn't have worked.

If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
* Dorothy Parker

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Posted Tue Aug 30th, 2011 4:29am Post subject: Mono no aware and the limits of language

I think I was decent, but not great, I need some time to hone!

Discount Golf

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