Wanted: ‘untranslatable’ words for new Melbourne gaming app

Hygge, noogal or ikigai? Do you know any untranslatable words in languages other than English? Be part of the making of a new, augmented reality game that will bring the city’s diverse languages to life.

In 64 Ways of Being, Melbourne will be transformed into a playable city through an inventive blend of game design, live and public art.

The team is currently in the research phase and is looking for input from Melburnians via an online survey for words that should be in the app.

“Right now we need the public’s help to collect unique words in languages other than English that relate to feelings or emotions connected to place,” RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow Dr Troy Innocent said.

“We’ve already had some great words submitted in our survey. For example, in Portuguese the word ‘saudade’ relates to the feeling of nostalgia, or longing for a person or thing that is distant or now unreachable.

“The closest phrase we have in English is to feel nostalgic for wanting to spend time with someone – but there is no direct translation.”

Some other examples of untranslatable words are:

  • Noogal (Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung) – denoting a sense of belonging
  • Hygge (Danish) – the cosiness and comfortable atmosphere around friends and family
  • Ikigai (Japanese) – the reason for being and waking up in the morning
  • Qì chang (Chinese Mandarin) – the energy between and surrounding multiple people
  • Eleutheromania (Greek) – the intense, irrepressible desire for freedom
  • Sevdah (Bosnian) – the amorous yearning and ecstasy for love

64 of these words will eventually be included in the new app to be launched later this year.

The 64 Ways of Being collaboration brings together RMIT researchers, live arts collective one step at a time like this, and game developer Millipede.

“Our vision of the playable city will take tourists and residents alike to different places and experiences around Melbourne, reconnecting people to the city as a lived experience,” Innocent said.

“As the app guides players through the city, unexpected locations will come to life in augmented reality – each evoking a different feeling, or way of being – that highlights a word from a different language.”

The team received a $950,000 Creative Victoria grant in 2018 with the aim to make Melbourne a ‘playable city’.

The team is working with the Wurundjeri Tribe Council and Boon Wurrung Foundation, and is reaching out to the Auslan and VicDeaf community for non-spoken languages.

You can submit your unique words via the 64 Ways of Being survey which will be open until Monday 2 March.

/RMIT University News Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.