Definitions

emigratory

Saudade

Saudade (singular) or saudades (plural) (in Galician, in European Portuguese and [sawˈdadʒi] or [sawˈdadi] in Brazilian Portuguese) is a Galician and Portuguese word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.

Expanded definition

In his book In Portugal of 1912, A. F. G Bell writes:

Saudade is different from nostalgia; in nostalgia (a word that also exists in Portuguese), one has a mixed happy and sad feeling, a memory of happiness but a sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if that return is unlikely or so distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present. One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia as a feeling one has for a loved one who has died and saudade as a feeling one has for a loved one who has disappeared or is simply currently absent. Nostalgia is located in the past and is somewhat conformist while saudade is very present, anguishing, anxious and extends into the future.

For instance, the phrases "Tenho saudades de você" (literally, "I have 'saudade' for you") and "Eu sinto sua falta" ("I feel your absence") would each be translated into English as "I miss you" — both "falta" and "saudade" are translated as "missing." However, these two statements carry very different sentiments in Portuguese. The first sentence is never told to anyone in person, but the second can be. For example, The first would be said to someone who has been away for sometime, it would be said over the phone or written in a letter. The second would be said by someone who has divorced, or whose partner is not usually at home, and would be said personally.

Some say that the ultimate form of saudade is one felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown in regards to any of the following things or circumstances:

  • Old ways and sayings
  • A lost lover
  • A far away place where one was raised
  • One lover sadly missing another
  • Loved ones who have passed away
  • Feelings and stimuli one used to have but has tired of
  • One's youth

Although it relates to feelings of melancholy and fond memories of things/people/days gone by, it can be a rush of sadness coupled with a paradoxical joy derived from acceptance of fate and the hope of recovering or substituting what is lost by something that will either fill in the void or provide consolation.

One of the best descriptions of the word saudade was made by Chico Buarque de Hollanda in his song "Pedaço de mim," when he says. "saudade é arrumar o quarto do filho que já morreu." which roughly translates to "saudade is to tidy the bedroom of a son who has already died."

Historical origins

The word saudade was used in the Cancioneiro da Ajuda (13th-century), Cancioneiro da Vaticana and by poets of the time of by King Denis of Portugal. Some specialists say the word may have originated during the Great Portuguese Discoveries, giving meaning to the sadness felt about those who departed on journeys to unknown seas and disappeared in shipwrecks, died in battle, or simply never returned. Those who stayed behind—mostly women and children—suffered deeply in their absence; the state of mind has subsequently become a "Portuguese way of life": a constant feeling of absence, the sadness of something that's missing, wishful longing for completeness or wholeness and the yearning for the return of that now gone, a desire for presence as opposed to absence—as it is said in Portuguese, a strong desire to "matar as saudades" (lit. to kill the saudades).

The same feeling is also found in Brazil, the destination of immigrants and African slaves who never saw their homelands again. The feeling was so much ingrained into the Brazilian mind that virtually every immigrant settled there learned this notion and incorporated it (even people from radically different mindsets, like Germans and Japanese, soon understood it). Another permanent source of saudades for the Brazilians is the vastness of the country itself, which in the past caused most people to feel alone almost everywhere.

In the latter half of the 20th century, saudade became associated with the feeling of longing for one's homeland, as hundreds of thousands of Portuguese-speaking people left in search of better futures in North America and Western Europe.

Besides the implications derived from an emigratory trend from the motherland, saudade is historically speaking the term meant to describe the decline of Portugal's role in world politics and power. During the so called 'Golden Age', synonymous with the Era of discoveries, Portugal had undeniably risen to the status of a world power, its monarchy one of the richest in Europe at the time.

Since then, with the rise of competition from other European nations, the country went both colonially and economically into a prolonged period of decay. This period of decline and resignation from the world's cultural stage marked the rise of saudade, aptly described by a sentence of its national anthem - 'Levantai hoje de novo o esplendor de Portugal' (Let us once again lift up the splendour of Portugal).

Saudade and music

As with all emotions, saudade has been an inspiration for many songs and compositions. "Sodade" ("saudade" in Cape Verdean Creole) is the title of the Cape Verde Morna singer Cesária Évora's most famous song; French singer Étienne Daho also produced a song of the same name.

The Good Son, a 1990 album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, was heavily informed by Cave's mental state at the time, which he has described as saudade. He told journalist Chris Bohn that "when I explained to someone that what I wanted to write about was the memory of things that I thought were lost for me, I was told that the Portuguese word for this feeling was "saudade". It's not nostalgia but something sadder."

Portuguese American singer/songwriter Jorge Ferreira recorded in 1992 the song "Saudade" from his album Regresso Prometido. A large number of songs of this emigrated artist speaks in majority about the feeling of saudade.

The usage of saudade as a theme in Portuguese music goes back to the 16th century, the golden age of Portugal. Saudade, as well as love suffering, is a common theme in many villancicos and cantigas composed by Portuguese authors; for example: "Lágrimas de Saudade" (tears of saudade), which is an anonymous work from the Cancioneiro de Paris.

Fado is a Portuguese music style, generally sung by a single person (the fadista) along with a Portuguese guitar. The most popular themes of fado are saudade, nostalgia, jealousy, and short stories of the typical city quarters. Fado, and Saudade are two key and intertwined ideas in Portuguese culture. The word fado comes from Latin fatum meaning "fate" or "destiny". Fado is a musical cultural expression and recognition of this unassailable determinism which compels the resigned yearning of saudade, a bittersweet, existential yearning and hopefulness towards something over which one has no control.

The Paragyuan guitarist Agustin Barrios wrote several pieces invoking the feeling of saudade including Choro de Saudade and Preludio Saudade.

The term is prominent in Brazilian popular music, including the first bossa nova song, "Chega de Saudade" (No more saudade), written by Tom Jobim. Due to the difficulties of translating the word saudade, the song is often translated to English as No more Blues.

In 1919, on returning from two years in Brazil, the French composer Darius Milhaud composed a suite, Saudades Do Brasil, which exemplified the concept of saudade.

Saudade (part ii) is also the title of a second flute solo by the band Shpongle, the first one being flute fruit.

The singer Amália Rodrigues typified themes of saudade.

J-Rock band Porno Graffitti has a song titled "サウダージ”, "Saudaaji" transliterated ("Saudade").

The alternative rock band Love And Rockets has a wistful song 'Saudade' that evokes it quite well with its sound (and it is also appropriately the last track) on their album Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven.

A jazz fusion trio consisting of John Scofield, Jack DeJohnette, and Larry Goldings released an album dedicated to drumming legend Tony Williams, called "Saudades."

Dance music artist Peter Corvaia released a progressive house track entitled "Saudade" on HeadRush Music, a sub-label of Toes in the Sand Recordings.

New York City post-rock band Mice Parade released an album entitled Obrigado Saudade in 2004.

Chris Rea also recorded a song entitled Saudade as a tribute to Ayrton Senna the Brazilian three-times Formula One world champion killed on the track.

Rock band Extreme, featuring Portuguese guitarist Nuno Bettencourt have an album titled Saudades de Rock. During recording, the mission statement was to bring back musicality to the medium.

Nancy Spain, a song by Barney Rush, made famous by an adaptation by Christy Moore is a good example of the use of saudade in contemporary Irish music, the chorus of which is:

"No matter where I wander I'm still haunted by your name
The portrait of your beauty stays the same
Standing by the ocean wondering where you've gone
If you'll return again
Where is the ring I gave to Nancy Spain?"

There is an ambient/noise/shoegazing band from Portland, OR named Saudade.

Saudade and love

Although named by the Portuguese, saudade is a universal feeling related to love. It occurs when two people are in love, but apart from each other. Saudade occurs when we think of a person who we love and we are happy about having that feeling while we are thinking of that person, but he/she is out of reach, making us sad and crushing our hearts. The pain and these mixed feelings are named "saudade". It is also used to refer to the feeling of being far from people one does love, e.g., one's sister, father, grandparents, friends; it can be applied to places or pets one misses, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past. What sets saudade apart is that it can be directed to anything that is personal and moving. It can also be felt for unrequited love in that the person misses something he or she never really had, but for which might hope, regardless of the possible futility of said hope.

Variations

Morriña (morrinha)

Saudade is also associated with Galicia, where it is also known as morriña (or morrinha). Yet, morrinha often implies a deeper stage of saudade, a "saudade so strong it can even kill", as the Galician saying goes. In northern Portugal, morrinha is a regional word to describe sprinkles, while morrinhar means "to sprinkle." (The most common Portuguese equivalents are chuvisco and chuviscar, respectively.) Morrinha is also used in this region for referring to sick animals, for example of sheep dropsy, and occasionally to sick or sad people, often with irony. It is also used in some Brazilian regional dialects for the smell of wet or sick animals.

Morrinha was a term often used by emigrant Galicians (especially in the Americas) when talking about the Galician motherland they had left behind. Although saudade is also a Galician word, the meaning of longing for something that might return is generally associated with morriña. The word used by Galicians speaking Spanish has spread and became common in all Spain and even accepted by the Academia.

Use in Goa, India

Goa, India, which was a Portuguese colony until 1961, still retains Portuguese influences. A suburb of Margão, Goa's largest city, has a street named "Rua de Saudades." It was aptly named because that very street has the Christian cemetery, the Hindu smarshant (cremation ground) and the Muslim quabrastan (cemetery). Most people living in the city of Margão who pass by this street would agree that the name of the street could not be any other, as they often think fond memories of a friend, loved one, or relative whose remains went past that road.

The word 'saudade' takes on a slightly different form in Portuguese-speaking Goan families for whom it implies the once-cherished but never-to-return days of glory of Goa as a prized possession of Portugal, a notion since then made redundant by the irrevocable cultural changes that occurred with the end of the Portuguese regime in these parts.

Use in Cape Verde

In Cape Verdean Creole there is the word sodade or sodadi, originated in the Portuguese "saudade" and exactly with the same meaning.

Similar words in other languages

Although "saudade" is untranslatable in any other language, there are other words which seem to have a similar meaning. However, the word "saudade" is special in complexity. While other words have similar meanings, they often only relate to one aspect of "saudade".

Finnish translation

Interestingly, the Finnish language has a word whose meaning corresponds closely with saudade: kaiho. Kaiho means a state of involuntary solitude in which the subject feels incompleteness and yearns for something unattainable or extremely difficult and tedious to attain. Ironically, the sentiment of kaiho is central to the Finnish tango, in stark contrast to the Argentine tango, which is predominantly sensuous.

There is a religious context for kaiho in Finland as well; a sect of "herännäiset" or "körttiläiset" more familiarly, has central to their faith a kaiho towards Sion, a unity of faith, and a connection with God, permeating their central book, Siionin Virret ("Hymns of Sion").

However, saudade does not involve tediousness. Rather, the feeling of saudade accentuates itself: the more one thinks about the loved person or object, the more one feels saudade. The feeling can even be creative, as one strives to fill in what is missing with something else or to recover it altogether.

Italian translation

Saudade somewhat relates to the Italian malinconia, in which one feels an interior satisfaction because it is impossible to find something, but one never stops thinking that one is searching for it. It is an incompleteness that one unconsciously wants to never completely resolve.

Serbian translation

The Torlak dialect of Serbian has the expression that corresponds more closely to the Japanese and Greek examples below, but can be compared to saudade in a broader sense of longing for the past. It is жал за младос(т) / žal za mlados(t) i.e. "yearning for the bygone"; since the dialect has not been standardised as a written language it has various forms. The term and the concept has been popularised in standard Serbian through short prose and plays by Vranje born fin-de-siècle writer Borisav Stanković.

Korean translation

keurium (그리움) is probably closest to saudade. It reflects a yearning for anything that has left a deep impression in the heart - a memory, a place, a person, etc.

Japanese translation

Saudade expresses a concept similar to the Japanese word natsukashii. Although commonly translated as "dear, beloved, or sweet," in modern conversational Japanese natsukashii can be used to express a longing for the past. It connotes both happiness for the fondness of that memory and goodness of that time, as well as sadness that it is no longer. It is an adjective for which there is no quite fitting English translation. It can also mean "sentimental," and is a wistful emotion. The character used to write natsukashii can also be read as futokoro 懐 [ふところ] and means "bosom," referring to the depth and intensity of this emotion that can even be experienced as a physical feeling or pang in one's chest~ a broken heart, or a heart feeling moved.

Spanish translation

Saudade somewhat relates to the Spanish extrañar, in which one feels a missing part of oneself, which can never be completely filled by the thing you can't have or get back. The word may also be translated by the Spanish expression "echar de menos", which would be roughly an equivalent to the Portuguese one "ter saudades", missing something or someone.

Dor - Romanian

In the Romanian language there is the word dor that bears a close meaning to "saudade". It can also stand for "love" or "desire" having a derivation in the noun dorinţă and the verb dori both of them being translated usually by "wish" and "to wish". However, although the word dor has a complex meaning, it still does not encompass the full meaning of "saudade". Curiously, the Portuguese word dor means "pain".

Greek translation

The Greek word that comes close to translating saudade is νοσταλγία (nostalgia). Nostalgia also appears in the Portuguese language as in the many of other languages with a Indo-European origin, bearing the same meaning of the Greek word "νοσταλγία".

There is yet another word that, like 'saudade', has no immediate translation in English: λαχτάρα (lakhtara). This word encompasses sadness, longing and hope, as 'saudade' does.

Arabic translation

The Arabic synonym for Saudade is وجد (Wajd), a state of transparent sadness caused by the memory of a loved one who is not near, it's widely used in ancient Arabic poetry to describe the state of the lover's heart as he or she remembers the long gone love. It's a mixed emotion of sadness for the loss, and happiness for having had loved that person.

Turkish translation

In Turkish, the feeling of saudade is somewhat similar to hüzün.

Welsh translation

Saudade is said to be the only exact equivalent of the Welsh hiraeth and the Cornish hireth

Esperanto translation

Esperanto borrows the word directly, changing the spelling to accommodate Esperanto phonetics, as sauxdado

See also

References

External links

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