The bitter taste of words

Have you ever pondered over the meaning a word can have depending on the language it is used in? I often do that. Not that I speak that many languages (I wish I could), just a few, and although I studied Latin in high school for only a bit lesser than two years, I still can’t help connecting words with its roots words, most generally in latin. What is perfectly defined in Arabic as masdar (المصدر).
And there is one very word that I hate or love (complementary feelings), depending on the language in which it is used. Retired in English, Retraité in French, Jubilado in Spanish, متقاعد in Arabic, בדימוס in hebrew, and what would be (if I do not recall too wrongly) secessit in Latin.

In all these languages, it simply means … retired. From life, active life, ready for the recycle bin. Discarded. Isolated. Pushed aside. Removed. Useless. Expiry date exceeded.

And I hate this idiomatic treatment we grant to the (and sometimes not so much) elderly people.

With an exception though. I love the word we use in Spanish. Jubilado. At first glance this is the same meaning, yes, retired. But the word Jubilado has a Latin and Hebrew origin that brings to the concept a second life, a happier one.

In Latin, this comes from the verb iubilare, which could be understood as to yell out of happiness. Which led to the word Jubilant in English. Jubilatoire in French. In Hebrew this comes from Moses Law, where after the age of 49 (7 times 7) a celebration was held (the yobel) to give a tribute, think, meditate and return to the real essence of life but through joy and happiness. Happiness for what has been achieved so far and for what comes next.

Different language, different perception. I would rather retire in a Spanish speaking country.


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