I’m always keeping my eyes and ears open for unique words. I love “untranslatable” words – words that can’t be translated into only one English word, but that needs a whole phrase or paragraph to explain it. Linguists generally don’t like these words, since they are so difficult to translate, but I don’t have to translate literally when I design MotherTongues t-shirts. I can use poetic license, so I say the more untranslatable, the better!
These are 5 untranslatable words about nature, and our relationship with the earth, that I recently came across:
Tenalach (Irish): A word used in the hills and mountains in the west of Ireland. It points to a relationship one has with the land/air/water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the earth sing…
Komorebi (Japanese): The scattered, dappled light effect when sunlight shines through tree leaves.
Gökotta (Swedish): To wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds of spring sing.
Aloha aina (Hawaiian): This phrase means “love of the land.” Hawaiians are the land, in the sense that the land provides food, water, clothing, and shelter. Showing care for the land, while visiting, is a wonderful way to show care and respect to the people of Hawaii.
Dadirri (Aboriginal Australian): An ancient word that combines contemplation, deep inner listening, and quiet still awareness of creation and the Creator, Dadirri is like a crystal clear water hole that calls us to be replenished and revitalized. To embody Dadirri, is to be at peace with yourself, with others, in nature, and with the Creator. Be patient with yourself, with your neighbor, and wait upon the seasons. Become aware of the sacredness that surrounds you. Hear creation breathe and follow her rhythm.
Do you have any words to add?