MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

Komorebi and other words about nature July 19, 2013


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?


Hózhǫ́ July 10, 2013

hózhǫ́ Navajo


World Words: the first MotherTongues app now available! May 3, 2012

 World Words

Download World Words

I am so excited: the first MotherTongues app is here! It is available in the Apple app store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and it is free!

10 Reasons you will LOVE the free World Words word-a-day app:

* Learn a new difficult-to-translage, life-affirming word every day.
* Deepen your sense of well-being, community, peace and justice.
* Hear a native speaker audio pronunciation for most words.
* Share your favorite words via Facebook, Twitter, email or text – easily!
* No internet connection needed after the download – the words are contained in the app.
* No ads!
* Set push notifications and the time of day to be notified of the new word-of-the-day.
* Scroll through previous words.
* Bookmark to save your favorite words.
* Learn the meaning of the word in English, the language it is from, and the country where it is spoken.

I would appreciate it greatly if you can please rate the app after using it for a while.

In celebration of the release, use Coupon Code “WORLDWORDS” at, for 10% off plus free shipping (anywhere!), on all MotherTongues apparel and accessories! Valid till Friday, May 11, 2012. I hope to work on an Android version of the app soon – you can help me to make this possible by buying a MotherTongues t-shirt or postcard today!

With appreciation for supporting me on this journey,



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?


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.


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