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Picture of bethree5
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I can only lay claim to an understanding of French & Spanish when it comes to usages in languages other than English. I find it odd that while all 3 languages have separate words for "happy" and "content" (heureux/content; feliz/contento), in English we seem to use the word "happy" far more often than "content". The usage of these two words in British and American English would seem to indicate that "happy" is a desired state of affairs, whereas "content" is a poor second, even suggesting settling for less. However, judging from French & Spanish usages, "content/ contento" is a common and expected state in daily occurrence, whereas "heureux/feliz" is relatively unusual and confined primarily to holidays and rare transcendental states.

I would hate to draw prejudicial ethnic conclusions from word usage, but this one really seems to call the question. Hey, the American constitution says nothing about "pursuit of contentment", does it?
 
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Research is made difficult because of the other meaning of 'content': 'that which is contained'. A Google Ngram of content v happy shows much more frequent use of content.
http://books.google.com/ngrams...5&smoothing=0&share=

In an attempt to refine the data, I tried content with v happy with and the result is here. I'll leave it to others to get results from the French and Spanish equivalents. There is of course the difficulty of genders in those languages.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I'm increasing my happiness by becoming more contentious.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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I know little French and less Spanish, but from what I do know it seems to me that feliz/heureux shades more towards "joy" or even "rapture" than happiness. It's the foreplay of happiness and the orgasm of joy, one might say. Now, where does Mick Jagger's "I don't get no satisfaction" fit into this? Roll Eyes

As for the preamble to the US Constitution, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T..._World_Became_Modern You'll therein discover how that line came to be.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Another French term that trips me up is demander. It looks like the infinitive French, "to demand," and it is, but unlike in English, there's no lawyer behind it - it's much more polite! It's the word you use when you ask or request.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
I'm increasing my happiness by becoming more contentious.
That's better than becoming more incontinent!


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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I agree with you, Bethree, about the difference between happiness and content. Yet I am thinking these languages must have both.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
In an attempt to refine the data, I tried content with v happy with and the result is here. .

Gosh, Arnie, reading over your post, I see that I hadn't challenged my observation of usage at all. I agree, it's difficult to research in this case, & w/o any research I guess it's just opinion.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: bethree5,
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I agree with you, Bethree, about the difference between happiness and content. Yet I am thinking these languages must have both.

They do have both, it's just that in Spanish or French, the typical translation for a smiley-face would be 'contento', or 'content', rather than 'feliz' or 'heureux'. As Geoff says, the latter words (which we would also translate as 'happy') shade in meaning more toward joy.

Oh well not to beat a dead horse Smile
 
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