During a recent visit to the blog of nature photographer Guy Tal I encountered a post entitled “Solastalgia.” The post began with a definition of that term by its creator, the Australian “environmental philosopher” Glenn Albrecht: “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’”
Looking further, I found an article by Paul McFedries in Word Spy that explains the origin of the term. The first element is from Latin sōlācium, the source (via Provençal) of Spanish solaz and (via French) English solace. The Latin noun is from the same root as the verb sōlārī, a compound of which has given us consolar/console. The last element in solastalgia is the familiar -algia, from Greek algos, which meant ‘pain,’ and which we find in medical words like neuralgia and fibromialgia/fibromyalgia. We also find it in nostalgia, which incorporates Greek nostos ‘a return home’; therefore it’s apparently the already compound nostalgia that’s being combined with solas- to create solastalgia.
Readers who would like to learn more in English about solastalgia can read the article in Word Spy. There’s also a TEDxSydney talk by Glenn Albrecht at:
Readers who would like follow-ups in Spanish might check out the articles at the following links:
There’s also a Spanish-language interview with Glenn Albrecht, with his answers overdubbed in Spanish:
© 2014 Steven Schwartzman