TRADUÇÕES DA SAUDADE

TRANSLATING "SAUDADE"

 

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Saudade is a Portuguese word, also used in Gallego and incorporated into Spanish.

 

It stems from the Latin "solitas, solitatis" (solitude), nevertheless, it is a word which is difficult to define. It expresses a mix of feelings of loss, melancholy, lack, distance and love. Also, it does not exist in any other language; therefore, it can never be precisely translated.

 

The British company Today Translations published a list of the hardest words to translate in the world. "Saudade" is ranked as the 7th most "untranslatable" word.

 

Stemming from the "untranslatability" of one of the most fundamental words/feelings in both Brazilian and Portuguese cultures, I propose a poetic translation game, between languages, and also between words and images.

 

Using Google Translate, I translated the word "saudade" into 89 languages. With these 89 words generated, I started a process of image research, also using Google.  I picked those images which were close to my own perception of the original meaning of "saudade".

 

It was an absurd process to purify the subjective definition of a word. As a result, a mosaic of images and words were gathered which attempt to chase the essence of "saudade", without ever reaching a satisfactory conclusion. It was a useless attempt to grasp and crystallize an essential feeling in the Lusophone culture. 

visual artist / writer