Wednesday, October 1, 2014

'Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words From Around the World' by Ella Frances Sanders

The Random House blurb:

"An artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English.

"Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there’s a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest?

"Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover’s hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee.

"In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you’ll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation."

The Random House author bio:

"ELLA FRANCES SANDERS is a twenty-something writer and illustrator who intentionally lives all over the place, most recently Morocco, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. She likes to create books with real pages while drawing freelance things for charming people, and she is not afraid of questions or bears. You can find her at"

My review:

This is the kind of book you'll read in an hour or less - perhaps much less. Yet you'll want to keep coming back to it again and again, especially if you're a person such as myself who's obsessed with words. In fact, it would make an excellent gift for any "words person." The design of this book is very lovely. and Sanders' illustrations are gorgeous, making this little volume a joy to flip through.

The words themselves, which come from a wide variety of cultures as diverse as the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego and the Malay peninsula, are fascinating. A lot of them deal with emotions, and although the words may be unique to their cultures, the feelings are universal. I think I have felt all of them at some point.

Two of them deal with kinds of nostalgia for a place or a past to which one can never return, each with a slightly different connotation.

If you'd like a window into how people around the world think and communicate their thoughts, this is the book for you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. It represents my own honest opinion.

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