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更新时间:2018-7-12 20:47:16 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

'Cwtch': The hug invented by the Welsh

I’m a quarter Welsh. My darling grandmother grew up in the Rhondda Valley, a small mining town where her father was the school principal. She didn’t speak a lot of Welsh, other than to delight us by reciting the longest train station name in the world (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch). I was always aware, though, of the word ‘cwtch’. She didn’t use it often, but I knew it was special; it was almost said in a whisper. I remember her using it once in hospital, when we first thought she was dying. It’s a special sort of cuddle, she said. And that it is: a ‘cwtch’ (pronounced ‘kutch’, to rhyme with ‘butch’) is the Welsh word for a cuddle or hug, but it’s also so much more than that.


Its second meaning is a cubbyhole or cupboard; a small space in which to store things safely. Blend those two meanings and you get a better idea of what the word means: it’s the wrapping of your arms around someone to make them feel safe in the world. It’s precisely what my grandmother needed, and gave, as she started to see her life slip away from her. I remember nuzzling into her neck, smelling the Youth Dew perfume she wore on her papery skin, and feeling like there was no safer space in the world. That is exactly how a cwtch ought to make you feel: safe, warm, comforted.

'Cwtch'的第二个意思是文件架或者碗柜,指能安全存放东西的小空间。把这两个意思结合起来才能更好理解cwtch的词意:用胳膊把人搂住给他们安全感。当奶奶感到自己生命流逝之时,这就是她所需要的,也是她所给予他人的。我还记得蹭着她脖子,闻着她年迈身体散发出那款"青春朝露" 的香水味,感到这里就是世界上最安全的港湾。这就是'cwtch'给你的感觉:安全、温暖、安心。

It’s an emotionally significant embrace and an intrinsically Welsh word that evokes a sense of home. My grandmother was some 17,000km from her Welsh home when she died in her sunburnt adopted home of Sydney, Australia. It is of little surprise to me that she would use that word then, wanting, probably, to transport herself back to where she grew up. It’s in times of fear, danger, distress and melancholy that we most need a cwtch. It’s not a casual gesture of affection; it’s a profound one, and it was invented by the Welsh.


“It’s not just a cuddle or a hug – it’s something special and something I wouldn’t do with everyone,” said Amy Jones, a Welsh Londoner whose mother comes from Cardiff and father from the Valleys. “A cwtch is what my parents would give me when I was young and had fallen over, it’s something my husband and I do on the sofa when we’re in a blissful cocoon, it’s what I give my friends when they’re stressed or sad. A cwtch is something you do when you’re overflowing with joy and love at another person’s sheer existence in your life that you can’t help but try and squeeze that love into them; it’s a safe space of love and comfort for someone who needs it; it’s all the best parts of being alive and loving someone, in a pair of arms. Hugs are for everyone; cwtches are only for a few, very special people in my life.”

艾米琼斯(Amy Jones)是威尔士人,现居伦敦。她妈妈来自威尔士首府卡迪夫,爸爸来自威尔士河谷地区。她说:"'Cwtch'不仅是亲密的依偎或是拥抱,而是很特别的事,我不会随便与人cwtch。小时候跌倒了爸爸妈妈会给我一个'cwtch',我跟老公舒舒服服窝在沙发里会相互'cwtch',朋友情绪低落或伤心难过我会给他们一个'cwtch'。生命中有个人让你特别高兴或是充满爱意,想要把爱全都给他,你就会给他一个'cwtch'。它给需要爱和安慰的人一个安全的港湾,用双臂架构出人生在世和爱一个人最美好的一面。我们可以跟每个人拥抱,但只会与生命中少数几个特别的人'cwtch'。"

Despite not being Welsh themselves, Jones’ husband and friends know the word and they’re well aware how much it means to Jones – both as code for ‘I need emotional support’ and as a motif of her Welsh identity. Like my grandma, Jones uses the word to take herself back to her roots. “I haven’t lived with my family in six years, but the word cwtch takes me right home. But more than that – when someone asks if I want a cwtch, they’re doing so because they know how much it means to me, and it makes me feel incredibly seen and understood.”


Dr Mercedes Durham, senior lecturer in sociolinguistics at Cardiff University, says that we use words like cwtch to distinguish ourselves as having a particular national identity. “Language has a lot to do with our identity and our culture. The word ‘cwtch’ is used by Welsh speakers and English-speaking Welsh people to indicate that they’re Welsh. It’s an emblem of being Welsh. In linguistics, we talk about the commodification words, and using them to sell an identity. People use this word to prove that they are Welsh. In gift shops, there are mugs and T-shirts that say ‘everyone can hug, only the Welsh can cwtch’. There are strong positive connotations for Welsh people.”

杜汉姆博士(Mercedes Durham)是卡迪夫大学社会语言学的高级讲师,她说我们会用'cwtch'这类词来界定自己的民族身份。"语言与我们的身份和文化息息相关,说威尔士语的人以及说英语的威尔士人会用'cwtch'一词表明他们的威尔士人身份,这是他们的威尔士标志。语言学中我们有商品化词汇一说,会用这些词来推销身份。人们会用'cwtch'来证明自己是威尔士人。在礼品店里,杯子和T恤上写着'人人都能拥抱,但威尔士人才能cwtch。这个词对威尔士人有非常强烈且正面的内含。"

Interestingly, the word ‘cwtch’ is used both by Welsh-speaking people and English-speaking Welsh people. It’s even gaining a little traction in the English language, at least with people who have Welsh friends or family. Jonathan Dent, senior assistant editor of new words at the Oxford English Dictionary, has noticed an uptake in its usage.

有趣的是,讲威尔士语的人和讲英语的威尔士人都会使用'cwtch',它甚至得到了英语的认可,至少有威尔士朋友或是家人的人都会接受。牛津英文词典负责新词部分的高级助理编辑丹特(Jonathan Dent)已经注意到'cwtch'的使用正越来越普遍。

“It was named as Wales’ best-loved word in 2007, has been used in wedding vows and is now flourishing in new contexts. A Twitter search shows the word in significant daily use on the platform, with people looking forward to a cwtch from their cariad [sweetheart], longing for a cwtch from anyone or offering one another virtual *cwtches*.”


He says there are other Welsh words we might use out of their traditional linguistic context, but we may not always get across the full nuance of their meaning. “The meanings of the Welsh words hiraeth (‘a sense of homesickness or nostalgia; longing; wistfulness’) and hwyl (‘a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy; a feeling which inspires passionate eloquence’) are often said to be impossible to capture in English, although we still have to try. In the case of cwtch, ‘hug’ and ‘cuddle’ might be serviceable English equivalents, but neither of them will ever convey everything that ‘cwtch’ does to someone who has grown up with the word.”


There is an enchanting profoundness to the word ‘cwtch’ that is not entirely translatable in English. And yet, it’s so lovely to add foreign words to our vocabulary, especially when we can’t quite land on the right English word. “One explanation for why we start using these words outside our own language is that there is a semantic gap in our own language or an experience we can’t quite articulate and then we discover a word for it in another language and we latch onto it,” said Dr Tim Lomas, professor in positive psychology at the University of East London and author of The Happiness Dictionary. “It’s a bit like the word ‘hygge’. Hygge is everywhere these days, and we use it to try and capture some of that enviable Nordic lifestyle. These words are more than words; they’re about a way of life and a state of mind. I don’t see why cwtch couldn’t have a similar movement to hygge. It would allow us to make a way of living around it, around cosiness and safety.”

'Cwtch'有一种迷人的深意,英语无法完全翻译出来。但在英文词汇中添加外来词也很好,尤其在没有英文词语相对应时。洛马斯博士(Tim Lomas)是英国东伦敦大学正向心理学的教授,并出版了《幸福词典》(The Happiness Dictionary)一书,他谈到:"自身语言的语义缺陷是我们使用这类词汇的原因之一,我们发现有些感受无法形容,而其他语言有词适合,那么就会采用。好比丹麦语的'hygge '一词,现在相当流行,是用来形容令人向往的北欧惬意生活方式。这些词的含义远比其字面意思丰富,还传达出一种生活方式,一种心态。'Cwtch'也能同'hygge'一样,派生出一种安逸安全的生活方式。"

Could ‘cwtch’ be the new ‘hygge’? Could we use it to evoke and sell a sense of comfort and warmth? Could its popularity be an endorsement of intimacy and kindness? Eifion Griffiths, a third-generation Welsh textiles maker and owner of wool company Melin Tregwynt, thinks we very well could. “Like our interest in the concept of hygge, using the word cwtch is a contrast to a world of darkness and danger,” he said. “If you’re upset, you need a cwtch. If you’re wandering around happy, a cwtch doesn’t come into it. We need cwtches more than ever, I think, because it’s not a very comfortable world at the moment. You have to understand, when you give someone a cwtch you’re not coming on to someone. It’s a non-threatening hug, it’s not a danger or a threat. It’s a safe space, something that takes you back to your childhood, something that makes you feel warm – not just physically but emotionally.”

'Cwtch'会成为下一个'hygge'吗?能唤起并推销温暖舒适之感吗?它的流行是否表明人们认可亲密和善意?格里菲斯(Eifion Griffiths)的回答是肯定的,他是威尔士纺织商,是梅林毛纺厂(Melin Tregwynt)第三代掌门人。他说:"使用'cwtch'与这个充满黑暗危险的社会形成了反差,跟我们喜欢用'hygge'一个道理。感到不安时你需要一个'cwtch',快乐开心时并不需要。现今社会并不舒心,我们尤其需要'cwtch'。你给别人'cwtch'时并不是要与此人发展性的关系,这是个毫无威胁的拥抱,没有危险。这是个安全的港湾,能让你回到童年,在身体和精神上都感到温暖。"

Some days, there’s nothing I’d like more in this world than a cwtch from my sweet, doting grandmother. She was an exemplary giver of cwtches: warm, generous, affectionate without reserve. She was, despite leaving the Rhondda Valley as a teenager, idiosyncratically Welsh, and to show that, she’d use words like ‘cwtch’. It is a deeply significant word to anyone who was born in Wales, and truly anyone who loves someone Welsh. She’d be proud to think that more people had started using it, that more people were actively making one another feel safe and warm.