MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

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.

 

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!

 

6 untranslatable words about community April 12, 2012

Words about community

As I’m working on the World Words app, that will teach you one life-affirming word a day, I enjoy finding words that show us how diverse cultures view community. Here are some of my favorite words about community. To hear the pronunciation, you’ll have to download the app when it becomes available!

  • Ubuntu: Zulu, Xhosa, South Africa. “I am because we are.” Find your identity in the relationships you treasure. Nurture a sense of belonging.
  • Wantok: Tok Pisin, Papaua New Guinea. The community where I find belonging: we speak the same language and are responsible for each other.
  • Yuimaru: Japanese. The practice of sharing and helping each other. This is Japanese cultural legacy from the time of small rural villages, when people depended on each other.
  • Inati: Tokelauan, Tokelau (a territory of New Zealand). A communal fishing practice where resources are gathered and shared amongst all, securing the wellbeing of young and old.
  • Nam-jai: Thai. It literally means “water of the heart”, and describes the willingness to sacrifice for friends and extend hospitality to strangers.
  • Minga: Quechua, a family of South American languages. “Carry one another.” Community members gather to accomplish a task that benefits all. A good example of a Minga would be an Amish barn raising. In our community, we have a Women’s Service Day, where over a hundred women get together to help local non-profits by painting, gardening, building, fixing.

Maybe we can learn from each other. Actually, I’m sure we can learn from each other! How do you shape your own communities according to your values?

 

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 mothertongues@mothertongues.com. 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

 

5 untranslatable words about friendship February 9, 2012

In time for Valentine’s Day, here are 5 more “untranslatable” words, describing our friendships and non-romantic relationships. My friend Justine Ickes from the blog “Culture Every Day” wrote about untranslatable words describing our romantic relationships. It seems people all over the world express their relationships in different ways!

Untranslatable words for friendship

In La ‘Kesh – Mayan:
“We are different faces of each other” or “I am another you”. These words are spoken with deep reverance as recognition of the divine within another person – similar to the phrase Namaste.

Nakama – Japanese:
Nakama is used to refer to friends who one considers family. Your “crowd” or group of friends will stand by you no matter what.

Szimpatikus – Hungarian:
You know the feeling you get when you meet a person for the first time and your intuition tells you she/he is a good person? You say this person is “szimpatikus”. You get a ‘good vibe’ from such a person.

Mate – Australian:
You probably know this one well. It provides a key to the Australian spirit. You spend a lot of time with your mates, doing things together, giving mutual support in good fortune and in bad fortune.

Anam ċara – Gaelic:
Your anam ċara is your “soul-friend,” your true friend, a lovingly stern companion to whom you can, in stringent honesty, unburden your heart.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day with your anam ċara! And may you get to spend time with your nakama!

 

 
%d bloggers like this: