An A-Z of untranslatable words by Fuchsia Macaree

I’ve loved the work of Irish illustrator Fuchsia Macaree for quite sometime. Her editorial illustrations for the Dublin magazine Totally Dublin have always been a particular favorite of mine and earlier in the month she released a fantastic series of illustrations based on untranslatable words.

It seems that every language has a few examples of these. They are the types of words that don’t necessarily translate directly into English or perhaps require a degree of cultural understanding to truly get their meaning. For example, in Ireland we have ‘craic’ – a word that means a sense of fun and amusement; normally based around good company and entertaining conversation. In Germany they have a word for buildings that are constructed with he sole purpose of inconveniencing a neighbour (neidbau). In Japan they use the word ‘age-tori’ for when someone looks worse after a hair cut. It’s fascinating stuff and Fuchsia’s series sets about bringing all these great words to life.

From A-Z she has created 26 illustrations which explore these fantastic foreign words. Each one rendered with beautiful colors, and fun and playful imagery. My favorite? The German word ‘backpfeifengesicht’. Simply meaning ‘a face in need of a slap’. Now, why don’t we have a word for that in English!?

View the complete collection of Fuchsia’s untranslatable words online here or buy a print of the alphabet online here.

August 31, 2012