What I found was this: that she could really speak. At first I took her as being exceedingly proper, but I soon realized that she was simply executing the language. She went word by word. Every letter had a border. I watched as her wide full mouth swept through her sentences like a figure touring a dark house, flipping on spots and banks of perfectly drawn light. The sensuality, in certain rigors.
Words in other languages are like icebergs: The basic meaning is visible above the surface, but we can only guess at the shape of the vast chambers of meaning below. And every language has particularly hard-to-translate terms, such as the Portuguese saudade, or “the feeling of missing someone or something that is gone,” or the Japanese ichigo-ichie, meaning “the practice of treasuring each moment and trying to make it perfect.” Linguists refer to the distance between these words and their rough translations as a lacuna, which comes from the Latin word for “pool” or “lake.” There’s a space we need to swim across to reach the other side.