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Ideas to steal.
Illustrating the untranslatable

Illustrating the untranslatable


Sometimes it is hard to convey the idea of culture to our students.  If you’re teaching a theme of identity or community in your class this year then part of that focus will undoubtedly be thinking about “what makes us different or special”.  Our students (especially our youngest ones) can find this very difficult, especially if they have lived where they live all their life.

This website takes that idea and flips it on its’ head.  It is a tumblr dedicated to words that are unique to a language or a culture and are, essentially, untranslatable. My favourite is the one I have pictured here – Hanyauku – a Kwangali word for the act of walking across warm sand on your tiptoes. The tumblr is the brainchild of illustrator Fuchsia Macaree and their is a gorgeous image that does its’ best to convey meaning.

I think this would be an incredible resource to base a lesson on identity and I wonder what words we have in NZ, in our communities and in our families that our students would identify as untranslatable?