Tamana ve anao?

As a big fan of language and words, I am always tickled to learn of foreign words that don’t have a translatable word in English. Today I learned of “tamana.” It has a meaning that resembles something you’d find in the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (which is a wonderful project, by the way), only positive.

Tamana is a word in Malagasy, which is the native language and people of Madagascar. It means to feel at ease and happy in a foreign country, while still thinking fondly of home, but not actively longing for or missing it.

Someone can ask you: “Tamana ve anao?” They would be asking: “Are you tamana?” And you would answer either yes or no: “Ya tamana” or “Tsia tamana.”

My friend who was explaining the word to me was surprised we don’t have an English word for that concept. The best I could come up with was “to not be homesick.” I don’t like the word homesick and I find the meaning of tamana to be much more beautiful and sufficiently complex.


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