MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

Calling all language lovers! March 15, 2012

World Words Kickstarter app

I have an idea. And I need YOUR help to make it happen!

Through the years, I’ve collected a lot of words. These words celebrate cultures. These words can deepen our sense of community, peace and justice. These words are not easily translated into English, but require a phrase to best explain their meaning. These words will open your eyes to other languages, cultures, and ideas. These words will be fun to learn!

I need your help in creating a FREE iPhone & iPad app to share these words. This app will teach you a new foreign word every day, even helping you to pronounce the word correctly.

In the app you may discover a word such as Minga: a Quechua word from South America. It means to carry one another. Minga encourages you to gather your community to accomplish a task that benefits the whole community.

Or you may find out about Mudita: a Sanskrit word, meaning to find joy in someone else’s happiness. Mudita teaches us that there is enough happiness in the world for all.

I’ve set up a Kickstarter project to get the seed money for the app. Would you please check it out, watch the 2 minute video, and share, share, share with your network on Facebook, email or Twitter? I need a Minga to make this happen 🙂

I also have great MotherTongues incentives (read: t-shirts, aprons, postcards, and some exclusive one-of-a-kind rewards) for you should you be interested in supporting this project. Please go check it out!

Dankie/Gracias/Thank you!  I’m forever grateful.


Help me make a MotherTongues app! Request for “untranslatable” words March 1, 2012

Do you know a word or phrase, in a language other than English, which you don’t quite know how to translate into English? Or definitely can’t translate into only one English word? Does this word have a positive meaning? Or does it talk about peace, justice, the environment, community? Or is it just a fun word? Then I’d love to hear about it!

I’m developing a (free) MotherTongues app for the iPhone and iPad that will teach you one interesting word each day of the year. I would like to have words from a wide variety of languages.

Some examples of words that I already have on my list (other than the MotherTongues words already on t-shirts):

Gökotta (Swedish): To wake up early in the morning, with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sings.

Yoko meshi (Japanese): A metaphor for the stress of trying to understand another language. The literal translation is a meal that is eaten sideways. Given that Japanese is read vertically and most languages are read horizontally, the expression captures the mind-bending challenge of processing words in new ways.

In La ‘Kesh (Mayan): We are different faces of each other.

If you know any fun, positive, cultural words in ANY language (but English), please send them to me at If I end up using the word, I’ll send you a MotherTongues gift (and a link to the free app!)

Dankie! Merci! Gracias! Mahalo!
~ Michelle


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