Linguistics and Mamihlapinatapai


We shared a Mamihlapinatapai*,
and then I went to war
thinking of you, when
the slaughter harangued me
with guilt and sorrow for
my dead comrades, but

precious, I will tell you now
how much I’ve wanted you
how much I missed you, and

can we speak out loud now
our scream of love, because

you look so beautiful when
your lips pucker me.

— Douglas Gilbert

*About Mamihlapinatapai
    It’s from an odd language from Tierra del Fuego that I never heard of, but it seems profound.

Fuegian word from Tierra del Fuego below Argentina and Chile
“a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.”

“Yaghan (also known as Yamana) is a language isolate of South America, not known to be related to any other living language. It was once spoken in Tierra del Fuego. As of 2011 only one elderly Yamana woman still speaks the language fluently, but one of her granddaughters is working to record, learn and teach the language again. ”
Tierra del Fuego


3 thoughts on “Linguistics and Mamihlapinatapai

  1. I keep getting the space indent wrong. I fixed it twice and the edit thing keeps adding default “&” and not the escape character or something. Maybe I’ll try to fix it later.

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