Le mal de pays

One of the things that came up at the French conversation group last night was homesickness.

In French there are a number of ways to express this concept:
– nostalgique = homesick (adj)
– avoir le mal de pays = to be homesick (for a place/country)
– s’ennuyer de (sa famille) = to be homesick (for one’s family)
– avoir la nostalgie (de qch) = to be homesick (for something)

L’odeur de l’herbe lui donna la nostalgie de la ferme de ses parents.
The smell of the grass made her homesick for her parents’ farm.

The Welsh word for homesickness is hiraeth /hɪəraɪ̯θ/, which is apparently one of those words that is untranslatable. It means homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the Wales of the past. It has similarities to saudade in Portuguese and morriña in Galician [source].

Do other languages have words with a similar meaning?

3 thoughts on “Le mal de pays

  1. I know that in eastern Germany people speak of Ostalgie, a yearning for the days of Communist rule. (Ost = east, nostalgie = nostalgia.)

  2. Kind of in related to Petrea’s Ostalgie is one I’ve heard, Jugonostalgia – nostalgia amongst former Yugoslavs for the days of Yugoslavia.

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