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Nostalgia

A discussion of word histories and origins.

Nostalgia

Postby badandy » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:04 pm

ive never looked this up, but im going to make a wild guess, unless somebody knows for sure:
nostos (Nostov, in greek SPIonic font)
in greek means a journey home, like the Odyssey,
and algia (algia)
means pain, such as in an analgesic medicine
so am I wrong in assuming nostalgia means 'pain for returning home'?
this is highly non-scientific etymology

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Postby Brazilian dude » Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:06 pm

It makes a lot of sense to me, and reminds me of German Heimweh, Dutch heimwee and Swedish hemlängta.

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Postby Stargzer » Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:02 am

Well, the etymology is correct and the definition is close, but no cigar . . .

nostalgia

SYLLABICATION: nos·tal·gi·a
PRONUNCIATION: nŏ-stăl'jə, nə-
NOUN: 1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past. 2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness.

ETYMOLOGY: Greek nostos "a return home" + –algia "pain".

OTHER FORMS: nos·tal'gic (-jĭk) —ADJECTIVE
nos·tal'gi·cal·ly —ADVERB
nos·tal'gist —NOUN


–algia

SUFFIX: Pain: neuralgia.
ETYMOLOGY: Greek, from algos "pain".

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


You'll understand it better when you approach geezerhood. :)
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Postby badandy » Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:11 pm

i dont understand, how did i miss my cigar?
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:24 pm

Its like this, either there is heart and soul in our understanding, or there is just head knowledge.
You'll understand it better when you approach Geezerhood.

A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

see that word bittersweet, one knows one can't really 'go home' and one really wouldn't want to go back to the original (bitter), but the memories are sweet.

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Re: Nostalgia

Postby gailr » Thu Oct 27, 2005 2:30 pm

badandy wrote:...so am I wrong in assuming nostalgia means 'pain for returning home'?


Perhaps we need a word for the pain of actually returning home... I'm thinking of those big, fraught-with-tension family get togethers where everyone will have fun, and like it! You know: Thanksgiving, Christmas, your parent's 50th wedding anniversary, the Baptism of the first child of your sibling that married into that family...

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Postby Stargzer » Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:23 pm

badandy wrote:i dont understand, how did i miss my cigar?


badandy wrote: . . .
so am I wrong in assuming nostalgia means 'pain for returning home'? . . .


It's not about a pain caused by (for) returning home, but rather a mixture of the pain or sorrow or sadness of missing things from the past and the pleasure of remembering them, all at the same time. Perhaps a pain because you can't go home.

Merriam-Webster has:

2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition;


This is a little different from the AHD definition, emphasizing "excessively sentimental."

Cambridge has a one closer to mine:

a feeling of pleasure and sometimes slight sadness at the same time as you think about things that happened in the past


Would you settle for a pack of cigarettes? :)
Regards//Larry

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Postby floating_leaf » Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:52 pm

Nostalgia in greek is the feeling of melancoly that is generated from the intense desire to return home or to experience again situations of the past.


Since we are talking about nostalgia, here's a poem by Kostas Kariotakis, one of the most important greek poets of 19th century (1896-1928):

Νοσταλγία

Μεσ' από το βάθος των καλών καιρών
οι αγάπες μας πικρά μας χαιρετάνε.


Δεν αγαπάς και δε θυμάσαι, λες.
Kι αν φούσκωσαν τα στήθη κι αν δακρύζεις
που δεν μπορείς να κλάψεις όπως πρώτα,
δεν αγαπάς και δεν θυμάσαι, ας κλαις.

Ξάφνου θα ιδείς δυο μάτια γαλανά
-- πόσος καιρός! -- τα χάιδεψες μια νύχτα·
και σα ν' ακούς εντός σου να σαλεύει
μια συφορά παλιά και να ξυπνά.

Θα στήσουνε μακάβριο το χορό
οι θύμησες στα περασμένα γύρω·
και θ' ανθίσει στο βλέφαρο σαν τότε
και θα πέσει το δάκρυ σου πικρό.

Τα μάτια που κρεμούν -- ήλιοι χλωμοί --
το φως στο χιόνι της καρδιά και λιώνει,
οι αγάπες που σαλεύουν πεθαμένες
οι πρώτοι ξανά που άναψαν καημοί...


Nostalgia

From the depth of good times
our loves greet us bitterly


You're not in love and you don't remember, you say.
And if your heart has filled and you shed the tears
because you can't cry like you did at first,
you're not in love and you don't remember, even though you cry.

Suddenly you'll see two blue eyes
-- how long it's been! -- that you caressed one night;
and it's as though you hear inside yourself
an old affliction stirring and waking up.

These memories of past time
will begin their macabre dance;
and like then, your bitter tear will
blossom on your eyelid and fall.

The eyes that suspend - pale suns -
the light which thaws the frozen heart,
the dead loves that stir,
the first sorrows that again ignite...



(I admit that the translation is poor)
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:05 pm

floating_leaf wrote:Nostalgia in greek is the feeling of melancoly that is generated from the intense desire to return home or to experience again situations of the past.

Since we are talking about nostalgia, here's a poem by Kostas Kariotakis, one of the most important greek poets of 19th century (1896-1928):
. . .
(I admit that the translation is poor)


Not at all, πεταλον_πλωτος; while I can't speak for the original, the translation is a very moving poem.

(and forgive me if my translation is not correct!)
Regards//Larry

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Postby badandy » Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:36 pm

Well, the etymology is correct and the definition is close, but no cigar . . .


Yikes! well, I guess i shouldve been more clear. I know and knew what the use for the word nostalgia is/was in English, and family gatherings can be painful indeed! :wink: but this was a post about the etymology of it. 'pain for returning home' is obviously a literal word for word translation that doesnt capture the essence of the emotion, but at the point I wrote the post, I wasnt even sure of the etymology, or whether it was Greek at all. Anyway, its interesting to see that there are pretty direct cognates in Germanic languages. I think it may be the reason English has assimilated Greek terms so well, with complex semantics resulting from easy compounding of basic words. this is certainly not the case in Romance languages!
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:15 pm

OK, no Havana, since I think they're still illegal in this country (unless you stocked up before the ban and put them in a humidor), so we'll award you a box of Parodis. :wink:

Image

(Notice the seal in the Seal of Perfection! :lol: It took me a while to find a large enough picture for the caption to show up.)
Last edited by Stargzer on Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:48 pm

this is certainly not the case in Romance languages!

What makes you say that? We probably have as many or maybe more words of Greek origin than English does.

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Postby tcward » Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:25 pm

Brazilian dude wrote:
this is certainly not the case in Romance languages!

What makes you say that? We probably have as many or maybe more words of Greek origin than English does.

Brazilian dude


What makes you say that?

-Tim ;)
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:33 am

Romance languages get their words from... Latin! Latin got a lot of words from... Greek! So we have many more Greek words than you guys because they came via Latin.

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Postby Andrew Dalby » Fri Nov 04, 2005 10:26 am

I've heard the same argument used about cholesterol ...

No, I'd say, your logic doesn't quite work, Brazilian dude. It depends how many of those Greek words, borrowed into Latin, actually remained in the Romance languages. Not so very many -- some food and plant names, some Christian words --

Setting those aside, many modern Western languages are in about the same position for how many Greek words they borrow for modern scientific, philosophical concepts etc. English and Portuguese could be roughly equal.
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