Everyone should have a favorite word. May’s favorite word is “saudade.” “Saudade” is a Portuguese and Galician word that makes its home primarily in the dark depths of May’s Spotify romance playlist. It is used to describe the feeling of a profound, possibly existential melancholic nostalgia for someone or something that is lost, an object of longing that will never return to us. It’s more than “I miss you.” It’s “You are gone, and sometimes I feel your absence so profoundly that my memory of you manifests almost synaesthetically.” (On that note, Lauren and Annette would like you to know that their favorite words are all four letters long and therefore cannot be printed in a respectable newspaper.)
Anyway, May struggles to define “saudade,” partly because it is simultaneously bound up in notions of pleasure and pain, and mainly because the word lacks a direct translation in English. Words are malleable, potent, nuanced. Sometimes they defy translation, and sometimes they defy definition.
The theme of this week’s issue is “Definitions” and follows the Mirror team on its exploration of the varied and complex meanings surrounding selfhood. This issue is an effort to navigate and reckon with the muddled territory of language and identity on campus. It will confront, question and reimagine dominant notions of “standard” language, regional identity, athletic affiliations and the role of college publications. In the realm of concrete realities, it will insist on the abstract — on the subtle, the indefinite, the abstruse, the fundamental nuance of the human experience.