Project Description

Ahilan Ratnamohan – Lingua Hopscotch

Our future survival depends on us understanding each other but also accepting that we cannot always understand each other.

The following score can be undertaken in numerous ways, both complex and simple, short and long. It is a score which you might choose to do in a few minutes, or over a lifetime, constantly building it as you cross streets, districts and borders, encountering new people. It can be done with friends or strangers, in person or online. But above all it requires human interaction.

1. Think of your own personal mantra* which you would like to carry with you into the future. Try not to be precious. If you have some difficulty with this, please refer to the mantra subscore below.

2. Find a friend or stranger who can translate it into another language. This translation could happen in all kinds of ways (see challenges and variations below). The only rule is that it requires human interaction and thus should not be performed with a translation app.

3. Now the fun begins. Find someone else who can translate it from this language into another language.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you wish. Think about how you can cross countries, seas, oceans, streets, firewalls and borders.

5. When you are ready, find a person who can translate it back to your mother tongue**, or a language which you are comfortable with.

This is your Lingua Hopscotch mantra for the future.

* a “mantra” is derived from Hinduism and Buddhism and refers to a word or phrase which one repeats to themselves over and over almost as a form of prayer or meditation. In this context we will think of it as a phrase.
** If you get stuck, don’t panic. Take the mantra in the language you do not know and learn it by heart. It will still have the same effect.


How many strangers can you talk to?
How many languages can you cross?
How many countries can you cross?
How many continents can you cross?
How many language families can you cross?
Can you do this by only communicating with strangers?
Can you do it using only verbal communication?
How quickly can you travel to the edge of your continent and back?
Are you with a group? Allocate points for the above levels and then set a time limit and see who wins.

Mantra Subscore

If you find it difficult to come up with a mantra, try the following steps.

Let’s start with the micro -vs- macro. Do you want something for the present? Something for a specific aspect of your life? Or something for the long term?

  • If you want something for the present, think about what you would like to strive for in the next 30 days. For example, yesterday I wrote, “watch less YouTube” on my desk.
  • If you want something specific, something you can always carry with you, start by thinking about the most important pillars in your life, pursuits which are most important to you. Perhaps try arranging them in order of importance, even. Then think about what you might want to do in order to improve, purify or push one of these further. For example, 6 months ago, I wrote, “radical choices in the use of language” on my wall.
  • If you want something more overarching, something for the future and the here and now, try thinking of the most important people in your life. Think of all the bits of advice they have given you. Think of the advice which has worked. Try to arrive at the one piece of essential advice which always works for you, which you might even want to pass onto someone else. For example, 10 years ago a friend and colleague told me, “always follow the energy.”

Don’t be precious with your mantra because you don’t know what’s going to happen to it.

Ahilan Ratnamohan
10 November 2020

image ©Minna Sundberg

Commissioned by Kaaitheater (Brussels)
and 1000 Scores.