No word for sex in Bangla

I’m flipping through channels in our hotel room in Cox Bazaar as I wait for room service. News, news, Hindi movie, Bollywood dancing, Jean Claude Van Dam movie, another Hindi movie . . . ahh the Discovery channel, finally something I can understand. Oh wait, this is dubbed in Bangla. I watch for a few seconds. It’s the Anatomy of Sex series. This should be interesting.

There are all these couples, young and old, traditional-looking grandparents to tattooed young adults. I’m trying to follow what they are saying as they are being interviewed and talk about their sex lives. I decipher that when they say shakta they mean a hard-on. As I watch more and more I realize that there is no word for sex, orgasm, or sexy. Check it out:

I am wondering how a culture with a population in the billions and multiplying sees sex with such little regard to not have labels for certain words which are such a huge part of the English language.

There are many words in other languages that don’t have an English translation. Eskimos have dozens of ways to say “snow” and in Bengali there are labels for emotions that don’t exist in the English language. Not saying that the emotions don’t exist, but the words that describe them don’t exist. Having words or labels are validating. If a word exists to describe something, it must have been something enough people in history have experienced and thought important enough for this phenomenon to validate a word. Some examples of Bengali words that don’t have English translations:

Obhimaan – being hurt by someone you love.

Tomar kaku obhimaan korchilo, tumi okey call diyo.
(Your uncle was feeling hurt, you should call him.)

Maya – overwhelmed by a feeling of love that kind of hurts and makes you feel sad at the same time.

Amar khub maya lagchilo bhikaari bachaa ta ke dekhe.
(I was feeling overwhelmed with love and sadness seeing the child beggar.)

Alladi – acting annoying in a way that craves love and affection.

Ami jokhon office theke bashai aashi amar beeral khub alladi korey.
(When I come home from work, my cat acts annoying for my attention and affection.)

Please keep in mind that I’m not consulting with the Bengali equivalent of Webster’s so if I am completely off please let me know. These are the definitions I came up with from context clues in overheard conversations.

I would like to come up with a post or series of posts in the future of more Bengali words that have no English translations, so if you can think of any from the top of your head please comment below. Thanks!

Advertisements