Distinctive words and a picture worth a thousand.

Osani, The Circle Game, portrays a traditional Efe Pygmy children’s pastime Simple, playful and evocative, the photograph serves as a gentle reminder to stay in touch with the basics; it acts as an antidote to busy days when core relationships and values are eclipsed by the distractions of modern life. It has hung on my walls for over 35 years, and I never tire of looking at it.

You can learn the real story behind Osani and the adventurous photographer who captured it in the 1960’s, Jean Pierre Hallet. Osani has been gifted to celebrate births, memorials, birthdays, and weddings. Shared on Facebook millions of times, it speaks a universal language, and is likely unique among portraits of indigenous peoples. You can purchase cards or posters of this singular image.

For more specific sentiments, the “In a Word” card line celebrates words from around the world that have no English equivalent, yet expresses sentiments that transcend cultures.

Some of the languages featured are endangered and spoken by only a few people. Others are fictional (Klingon, Elvish), and still more are strong and healthy in their own lands but unknown in the West. All words chosen speak to our shared humanity.

Half of the languages spoken today could be gone in less than a century. When we lose a language, we lose more than a method of communication. We lose a unique way of seeing the world—including traditions that connect people to place, and to each other.

No in elenath hîlar nan hâd gîn*
“May all stars shine on your path”

*Sindarin,  fictional Elvish tongue.