Sunday, June 06, 2010

Depression - lost in translation

I've developed an unhealthy obsession with trying to compile a list of words/phrases in South East Asian languages that helps capture the essence of depression. A previous post on Begum Syndrome, touched on language and cultural barriers to interpreting and understanding complex symptom clusters and subsequently conveying a presumed diagnosis of low mood.

Drawing on my East African Asian heritage I discovered that the term often used in my community to describe depression is munjaro - a Swahili word which translates as cobweb - perhaps perfectly capturing the clouded perception and thinking that can take hold with clinical depression. However, in its original usage it was probably applied more to long term psychosis rather than the more subtle but equally pervasive depression.

If the Queen spoke Gujarati she might describe depression as manshik udashinta which I suspect may correlate with it's Urdu equivalent udasi (sadness) which doesn't really hit the spot.

Tellingly, the Royal College of Psychiatrists' patient info leaflet on depression (in Urdu) merely transliterates depression.

Has anyone had any success in coining an appropriate phrase? Which other languages pose a similar challenge?

[First posted here at doc2doc]


Anonymous said...

MashaAllah that's really good!

Espresso Reviews said...

Been there, done that too! I did not succeed though. I gave up...(before to lose it) lol