East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Affection does not translate well

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Some things do not translate.
The Italian expression “volersi bene” for instance.
Normally it is considered as a milder equivalent of “loving” – if I say that Jack and Jill “si vogliono bene” I’m implying they are in love with each other, but in a somewhat quiet, not very passionate way.

But that’s wrong.
First, because it can be misleading.
A literal meaning is closer to “they wish well to each other”, or even more precisely “they desire each other’s good”.
It’s something soft, maybe even a little cuddly, but sometimes it’s love, sometimes it’s something else.


But it gets trickier than that.
It gets trickier when I use the expression “bisogna volersi bene” or “dobbiamo volerci bene” – using the reflexive meaning, in the sense we must love (or wish well to, or desire the good for) ourselves.

I happen to say that a lot, recently, to a lot of people.
And I try and remind it to myself, too.
There’s a lot of brutality, out there.
People that seem to find pleasure in putting you down.
Lots of bad vibrations.
So we must help ourselves.
We must go softly on ourselves, give ourselves some slack, pat ourselves on the back and admit, what the heck, we’re doing the best we can, and we’re good.

Yesterday – was it really only yesterday? – I read an article about how kids fail in school because each mistake they make leads them to think they are stupid.
And if you start thinking you’re stupid, you’re very soon going nowhere.
That’s one of those situations in which the idea of wishing well to oneself (ouch – does it sound wooden in Englih or what?) is essential.

I’m lucky – I have friends and family that show a lot of affection and support.
Getting down is sometimes easy, but picking myself up is much easier.
But we should all start to show some goodness to each other.
There’s more than enough brutality, out there.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Affection does not translate well

  1. Very deep post today! 🙂
    It doesn’t happen frequently to read a post so full of kindness and optimism.
    Thank you, for remembering such good things!


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