'Ungardening' and 'solastalgia': New lingo related to the environment

  • Living
  • Monday, 04 Oct 2021

Some new ecological terms are already well integrated into common language such as 'slow fashion.' Photo: AFP

Do you know the exact definitions of "slow fashion", "wish-cycling", "solastalgia" or "morbique"?

The words we use are important: they reflect the times we live in and the evolution of our societies. And when it comes to talking about the environment, new terms and concepts are cropping up everywhere. To help us navigate the evolving terminology, foreign language learning application Babbel has created a "green" vocabulary.

As Héctor Hernández, curriculum manager at Babbel, explains, languages are constantly evolving and can be used to promote change. Particularly when it comes to global issues like the environment, he points out.

Babbel's glossary has compiled about 20 terms directly related to the protection of the planet, some of which illustrate the new lifestyles centered around eco-responsibility. Some words are already well integrated into common discourse, such as "slow fashion", which consists of dressing more ecologically by buying less clothes and/or by privileging pieces that are locally made from ecological materials and that respect animal welfare.

Upcycling is also on the list. This practice, which is kind of a step up from recycling, consists of giving a used object a new look or a new use, for example by turning flip-flops into a yoga mat!

Some of the other words are perhaps less known. Solastalgia, a term invented by the Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht, is a contraction of the words "solace" and "nostalgia" and evokes a deep distress linked to the destruction of the environment. This phenomenon is also known as "eco-anxiety".

Terms that are untranslatable but universal

The vocabulary also includes words such as "ungardening" and "wish-cycling". The first one designates the will to eliminate any presence of pesticide in one's private garden in order to favour the development of wild fauna. It is sometimes also referred to as "rewilding".

As for wish-cycling, it describes the absurd (but obviously widespread) tendency to throw a product in the recycling bin without really knowing if the waste in question is recyclable or not... But hoping that it will be recycled anyway!

Meanwhile "morbique", which comes from the Latin word "morbus" ("disease"), refers to the desire to travel to places before they disappear or are altered by climate change... Even if it means using polluting modes of transportation to visit them.

Babbel also explores terms from around the world that may be "untranslatable" but whose meaning evokes universal experiences and feelings.

For instance "mottainai" is a word the Japanese use to express the negative feeling generated by waste. "'Mottainai' can be translated as 'don't waste anything worthwhile'," explain Babbel's teachers. – AFP Relaxnews

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