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Old 05-23-2020, 12:07 AM
Roderick Femm's Avatar
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Do the Germans have a word for wabi-sabi?


I've often heard that German has a word or expression for everything.

The term "wabi-sabi" (a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, an aesthetic sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete) seems quintessentially Japanese. The term has been borrowed and possibly over-used by other cultures, however, so I wondered if any other language had a short expression for that concept, and German popped into mind.

So, German speakers, how about it?

Any candidates from other languages?
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:51 AM
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Schönheitdieunvollkommenunbeständigundunvollständig. German has a word for everything, provided you don't care how long it is.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:15 AM
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I'm curious where you got the notion that the concept has been adopted and 'overused' by other cultures.

I'd really like a cite, thanks.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:22 AM
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German has no fixed list of words, you can put together a new word for every occasion.


You can just keep adding shit:
Milch
Kuhmilch
Alpenkuhmilch
Alpenkuhmilchflasche
Alpenkuhmilchflascheöffner

At some point the words become nonsensical if grammatically correct. The point: Germans don’t “have” words for everything, they can make them up as they go along.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:19 AM
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As already expressed by others, we don't have a word for everything. Although, often it is possible to come up with a single compound word that can express rather complex things or concepts. There are cases, where the single compound word fits well. But there are also cases where that word feels forced and it might be better to use a construction of several words or a loan word.

Concerning Wabisabi: You could probably use Vergänglichkeitsästhetik (Aesthetic of transience) to describe a similar concept. I think it might be a better idea to simply use the Japanese word and explain what it means.

Last edited by Remember|me; 05-23-2020 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kambuckta View Post
I'm curious where you got the notion that the concept has been adopted and 'overused' by other cultures.

I'd really like a cite, thanks.
My exact words were "borrowed and possibly over-used," so I really only would have to prove "borrowed" since that is the only assertion I made. And if this were GD or GQ I would try to provide you with a cite for "borrowed." Otherwise you will have to be satisfied or unsatisfied with my general experience in the matter.

If you have a counter-example, I would be happy to hear about it.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:03 AM
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At least for Germany, I have never encountered the word wabi-sabi (to be fair, I opened the thread, expecting you misspelled "wasabi"). For the concept itself, we might use "Patina" (borrowed from Italian), but that does not encompass the whole concept of wabi-sabi, as I understand it. The same goes for my suggestion "Vergänglichkeitästhetik", that is no word that is in usage (as far as I know) - but I came up with it as an answer to your question. If you used it in context within conversion about this topic, I think it would be understood.

So for Germany I would state that the concept of wabi-sabi has not been borrowed, at least not widely-spread, and it certainly not been over-used.
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:08 AM
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"It's a Big Ball of wibbly-wobbly wabi-sabi stuff."

.. --The Doctor
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