MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

Travel Words September 8, 2017

have-cameras-will-travel_4460x4460

Untranslatable words inspire me, since it teaches me something unique about another culture. Travel inspires me, since the new sights, sounds, smells and tastes teach me about another way of living. Combine untranslatable words and travel, and you get these inspirational words:

Vacilando – Spanish, Portuguese verb. To travel with the knowledge that the journey is more important than reaching a destination. This is true about life in general!

Lebensgefährtin – German (female) noun. The companion willing to seek adventure and travel life’s road with you.

Phượt – Vietnamese noun. To travel by letting your feet guide your way. Unplanned travel is sometimes the best way to explore!

Inuksuk – Inuktitut noun. Inuktitut is spoken by the Inuit people in Canada and Alaska. Inuksuks are large stone signposts of values and navigation: it can welcome guests, guide travelers, and ensure safe passage. I love the symbolism of an inuksuk – I’ve even used it on a MotherTongues scarf.

Wanderlust – German noun. An irresistible urge to travel to and explore foreign places. I definitely have wanderlust…

May we all find a lebensgefährtin who will vacilando with us!

  • See the MotherTongues app World Words for more of these untranslatable words.

 

Advertisements
 

Gedogen: Dutch tolerance September 1, 2017

Filed under: Culture,Languages,Untranslatable words — Michelle @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Amsterdam

The Dutch has a word that means the opposite of zero tolerance. Gedogen cannot be directly translated into one English word. It means something is to be tolerated, but not in a passive sense like “to tolerate” normally implies. Certain parts of Dutch life (I’ll leave it up to your imagination, just think of the activities that Amsterdam is famous for…) is technically illegal, but it is actively tolerated.

For social matters without one clear solution and where it is obvious that the problem cannot be solved by prosecution, Dutch society (and the law) will decide to gedoog it. Enforcement of certain matters will be flexible. You can even say that the Dutch will be accommodating instead of trying to do the impractical.

If something has been gedoogd, it is not legal, but also not illegal. Now let that idea sink in!

 

 

10 untranslatable words about food and eating January 28, 2014

Filed under: Culture,Languages,Untranslatable words — Michelle @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , ,

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”
~ Laurie Colwin ‘Home Cooking’

words for cutlery

This wall of words is in our favorite little falafel restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. (It is called Falafel, and Hugo makes the most amazing food!)

I love cooking. And eating. And especially doing both with friends and family. So when I collected untranslatable words for the MotherTongues slow food apron and for the MotherTongues World Words app, I really enjoyed coming across these foodie words. You’ll have to download the World Words app to find the pronunciation of these words, but here they are in writing:

Stammtisch (German noun) ~ A regular get-together in the same place around the same table, enjoying food, drink or philosophical discussions.

Utepils (Norwegian noun) ~ The first beer one drinks outside after an extensive period of cabin fever: imagine spring arriving after a long winter. (I think most of us in the Northern Hemisphere can do with an Utepils right now!)

Au pif (French adverb) ~ Literally “by the nose”, this adverb describes being creative with your cooking: using your intuition and following your nose!

Itadakimasu (Japanese phrase) ~ Said before a meal, this expresses gratitude to all who cultivated, hunted, or prepared, and to the animals and plants.

Muka (Hawaiian noun) ~ The sound of smacking your lips, done to indicate that you are eating a scrumptious meal.

Slappare (Italian verb) ~ Eating everything, leaving your plate as if it has been licked clean.

Sobremesa (Spanish noun) ~ The time spent around the table after the meal, savoring food and friendship. My favorite time!

Fika (Swedish verb or noun) ~ Meeting a friend over a cup of coffee or tea, enjoyed with a tasty bite.

Craic (Irish noun) ~ Moments where fun, food and friendship unite.

And this last one is a favorite word in our family. My nephew knew he had one, even though it took us 20 years to learn there existed a word for it!
Betsubara (Japanese noun) ~ The portion of one’s stomach reserved for desserts only.

Do you have any words about food, cooking and eating from your language(s) to add?

 

Komorebi and other words about nature July 19, 2013

Komorebi

I’ve posted untranslatable words about nature before, and here are some more words describing nature and our interactions with nature, that I’ve come across as I work on adding words to the World Words app.  I hope you enjoy these, they are some of my favorite nature words from around the world!

Komorebi (Japanese noun) ~ Sunlight playing through the tree leaves.

Madrugada (Spanish, Portuguese noun) ~ The moment at dawn when night greets day.

Songimvelo (SiSwati noun) ~ To nurture nature.

Ag borradh (Irish phrase) ~ The vitality and promise that arrives with springtime, telling that new life is about to break forth.

Bangweulu (Bemba noun) ~ Where the water meets the sky.

Serein (French noun) ~ Fine rain falling from a cloudless sky, typically after sunset.

Shinrin-yoku (Japanese noun) ~ A visit to the forest for relaxation. Literally, forest bathing.

Hoppípolla (Icelandic verb) ~ To jump into puddles.

Gümüş servi (Turkish noun) ~ Reflections of the moon on the water.

Do you have any nature words from your language(s) to add?

 

Pochemuchka July 12, 2013

Pochemuchka

A word from the World Words app from MotherTongues. (The World Words app is currently under construction, but will be back in the App Store soon!) One of my favorite words. All children should be Pochemuchkas and have the chance to ask questions.

 

Hózhǫ́ July 10, 2013

hózhǫ́ Navajo

 

Forest bathing December 17, 2012

shinrinyoku
I’m updating the World Words app with new untranslatable words. This is one of my favorite new words. Enjoy!

 

 
%d bloggers like this: