Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lost in Translation

Portuguese has these amazing words like "lembrancinha" and "saudades" that just don't translate into English.

A lembrancinha is a little gift 'that you will remember me by,' derived from the verb "lembrar" or "to remember." Literally, it would be "little remembrance." They are given out to people who visit new babies, go to birthday parties, and celebrate weddings. They are for the guests; when they look at the lembrancinha, they remember the event.

It is also customary when a loved one is leaving. (My mother receives countless lembrancinhas every time she comes to visit. These people are that loving.)

So I've been thinking for some time on what I'm going to give everyone when we leave. I settled on a family picture with all of our contact information as a "general" lembrancinha. We're going to hand them out like candy at our goodbye party. (Which we are throwing ourselves, because that's what you do here. You even throw your own baby shower -a social taboo in the States. It's not right or wrong. Just different.)

(And if anyone has PhotoShop to help me turn Mr. Squishy's head in the photo, I would appreciate it sooooooooo much! Please? Anyone? Anyone?)

But I needed another lembrancinha for my closer friends. Something more personal, and preferrably hand made. Effort = value. I came up with this:



(I've tried three times now and it JUST WANTS TO POST SIDEWAYS, SO DEAL WITH IT.) The translation is basically "God be with you til we meet again." Guaranteed tear jerker. I hope they like it. (I'm making one for each of my nine closest friends.)

The other word, "saudade," is harder to translate. Online dictionaries will spit back, "no matches found."

It is a feeling we get when we miss someone - something we have and hold in our heart. It is that emptiness that accompanies us when our companions don't. Eu estou com saudades de voce - I am with saudades of you ... That ache. That need. That hurt just to the right of our hearts when we need to hear someone's voice.

It's interesting to me that this word "saudade" looks a lot like the word for 'health' - "saude." As in - we are not completely healthy when we're missing someone.

Which means that I haven't been healthy in a long, long time. And probably never will be again.

15 comments:

Kimberly said...

And then there are feelings for which there are not words . . .

So sorry for the heartache, hun. That has to be one of the hardest parts of this move for you.

Together We Save said...

Love your blog. Stumbled upon it today.

SO said...

What a beautiful remembrance gift.

I have that ache that saudades ...and probably will 'til I die.

Rachel said...

Sometimes I think that the english language is so lacking. I've heard so many words in other laguages that are so beautiful that we have nothing even close.

I think it needs to change.

JustRandi said...

I love love love that gift. I had no idea you were such a talented artist!

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

I don't know how you are going to make it without bawling your eyes out- or my son for that matter- but you have given me some thoughts on stuff I should send him- he has given gifts to his companions and the mission president- but I think I should send him a few things to leave with the special families who he loves so very much. He has only 4 and a half months and unless by some miracle he gets sent to your area on transfers- he won't get to meet you-

And I didn't know you could draw like that- well done- and best of luck not tear-staining them.

KC Mom said...

I don't know how you leave it behind.
I think moving in the US is different because everything is within a days' flying for travel and we have great ways of staying connected. But leaving a continent...so hard.
I think your gift is a great idea.

janae said...

I think every language has a few words that simply cannot translate. I love the word saudades. Beautiful.

Destinee said...

Beautiful gift. I love "saudade" and your take on not being completely healthy when we're missing someone.

I could maybe help you out with turning Mr. Squishy's head.
Email me if you want to: destineeg@hotmail.com

Moving is so exciting and sad all wrapped into one.

Mommadj5 said...

Your last paragraph about the saudades definition - not being completely healthy & whole and probably never will be again with the broken heart picture- can you find a way to get that into your farewell gift for your 9? It is so beautiful and exactly descriptive of how we feel. (I feel like I haven't been whole since you got married :-)But I fill in the "hole" with Steve and the grandkids...) But I also love the drawing of the temple and the God be with You part - maybe on the back? I can't help but feel that you WILL see them again - maybe 15-20 years, but sometime. Thank goodness for email and translation programs. Wish we didn't have to experience these kind of partings....can you imagine how our Heavenly parents ache to hold us again?

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I think Brazilian tears will fall like rain.

And I've learned after many moves, that we almost always DO see each other again, so goodbyes are not as painful anymore. I've even been able to see many of the people I loved from Argentina even though I thought that might be impossible when I originally left. Makes me realize what a party heaven will be.

heidizinha said...

saudade is one of those words that will never translate. adeus/adios/adieu is another one that english speakers think they get, but they really don't.

great lembrancas. i got so many porcelain eggs when i left.

Deb said...

Oh, I know how you feel. It's so great to be going back to the States, and it's exciting to be embarking on a new adventure, but you miss those things you love, and it's scary to imagine your life changing.

We're thinking of you. This is all happening too fast!!

Shooting Starchild said...

I profoundly understand how meanings are lost in translation! I don't understand Portuguese, but my heart aches for the Spanish I no longer hear and speak every day. I think I feel saudades (I know the conjugation is wrong, I don't know what it is though). One of my words is sobrevenir, which is to overcome (the subtleties are fading from my mind). Confio que tendrĂ¡ poder sobrevenir los cambios que vienen. Siga adelante.

Lorraine said...

Ok, so when I was in Brazil, my exchange student told me of a word that doesn't translate, and to this day I still use it. I have absolutely NO idea on the correct spelling, so if you know the word or can find it out, let me know. It sounds like "engazgado". She said it is that feeling you get where anything could make you cry. Women get it a lot when they are PMSy! When you are just about on the edge of crying and you know if one person says just the wrong thing, you will burst out in tears and won't be able to stop. Let me know if you know the word. I am curious.

By the way, I think you presents are great! Oh, if you go to picasa.com and down load it, you don't really need photoshop. It is very simple to use and SOOOO much fun. My problem is, that now I spend more time on editing my photos then I do blogging. Oops!! If you try it, let me know what you think.