University of Luxembourg studies meaning of word saudade for Portuguese immigrants



    The University of Luxembourg launched an inquiry about the meaning of the word “saudade” for the Portuguese immigrants in that county, which will be compared to a similar study done in Portugal, one of the authors told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

    The inquiry, which will result in a scientific article to be published in the next months, is based on a questionnaire already used in another study about the conceptualization of the word “saudade” among Portuguese college students, done by researchers at the University of Porto, Portugal and at Institute for Advanced Studies, in Paris, France.

    “We want to compare the results with a study done in Portugal, to see if the Portuguese, Cape-Verdian and Portuguese-speaking immigrants in general in Luxembourg define the word “saudade” in the same way as the Portuguese who never immigrated. It seems to us that the word has a different meaning, maybe stronger, with a different intensity, for the Portuguese who are abroad,” said researcher Stéphanie Barros Coimbra, from the Social Science Department INSIDE (“Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development”), of the University of Luxembourg.

    In the inquiry launched this week on the internet, participants have to select sentiments and ideas associated to the word, from a list of 67 items, including “sadness”, “loneliness”, “motherland”, “vacation”, or “destiny”, or proverbs as “who leaves takes “saudades”, who stays behind “saudades” keeps” (quem parte leva saudades, quem fica saudades tem)

    The idea is to inventory the emotions associated with the word by the Portuguese speaking immigrants in the country, in a psychology perspective, in an area where there aren’t many studies about the topic, the Portuguese researcher, born in Luxembourg, explained.

    “The word “saudade” is typical of the Portuguese language and is hardly translatable into other languages. There have been studies done in Portugal about the word in the perspective of literature, philosophy or linguistics, but there are only a few done in the psychology area,” Stéphanie Coimbra added.

    The daughter of Portuguese immigrants in Luxembourg, the researcher, 29 years of age, admits that she has a “personal interest” in the study.

    “It is a word that I have always heard at home, because my parents missed the family who stayed in Portugal, and I also felt the same way. We say “matar saudades”, “killing saudade”, when we go to Portugal, and those values were transmitted to me”, she said.

    The inquiry, available exclusively in Portuguese, may be filled out on the internet until the month of August.