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Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World Hardcover – September 16, 2014
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"...a fantastic collection of words without English counterparts." -- Entertainment Weekly
"...a collection of words you never knew you needed before." -- Huffington Post
“… will make you think, laugh and discover situations you never knew there was a word for.” – ELLE Canada
“Charming illustrations and sheer linguistic delight” – Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
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Top Customer Reviews
Though I am a Malaysian who's been learning Malay since preschool, I still tried to look up the word in a dictionary and didn't find it.
I love the compilation though, but I now have doubts about whether the author has gotten the right words, in their correct languages and definitions.
While it's generally agreed that English has the most words (according to Bill Bryson's book 'Mother Tongue', English has about 200,000 words in common use, German 184,000 and French 100,000), sometimes it's the magic of that one word that can suddenly shift your perspective to understand something in a truly extraordinary way. And sometimes it's not about being raised to the sublime, but rather about the efficiency of economy. Why use 10 words when you can use one?
Every word is included with a definition and charming illustration by the author. The facing page reiterates the word and definition again, with a short commentary.
Similar to The Book of Awesome, this book will help lift your spirits as it reminds you of the uniqueness of being human.
My favorite word? Mangata. The road-like reflection of the moon in the water.
It's 52 words from other languages that capture in a couple syllables emotions and moments that whole English sentences can't grapple with.
I would have devoured this book as a 12 year old. Words to say the seemingly unsayable are right up my alley, then and now.
Let's say somebody asks you how long it takes to eat a banana. A few moments ago that was a difficult concept to capture.
But now you have the Malay word "pisan zapra." That's how long it takes to eat a banana.
And next time you cup your hand under a cold stream running with snowmelt, the word for how much water your palm holds is "gurfa."
That one's German.
And when somebody says something, and you think of a clever response after they're gone? The Yiddish call those "trepverter," or stair-case words.
Hows about the Hungarian word "szimpatikus?" That word means a person you immediately feel good about, by your intuition and soul.
And when you see that special person coming, you probably get "tiam." That's a sparkle in your eye.
Or how about the word Brazilian word "cafune," which is the gentle stroking of a loved one's hair?
And hopefully you have some "naz" people in your life, those who would follow you anywhere and love you all the way. That's an Urdu word.
I also like the German word "waldeinsamkeit." That is the word for time spent peacefully in the woods, releasing our cares and breathing free.
And the Japanese word "komorebi," which describes the green fire of sunshine through leaves.Read more ›
In other news: Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book? Because I do. I love your work Ella Frances Sanders! (Ahem, pretty please, say there's a volume two in the works?)
This book will happily take up residence on my apartment coffee table. And I'm looking forward to sharing it with all of my dear word-nerd friends too. What were my favorite words? Komorebi and Hiraeth and Waldeinsamkeit, and those are just 3 of them. Purchase the book, or look them up to find out why . . . I know, I'm like that. Forgive me. But if you're desperate and want to take a peek at some the illustrations that made it into Lost In Translation beforehand, I'll understand. You may find them here.
What I Didn't Love As Much: My only qualms with this book are 1) occasionally some of the typography in the illustrations were hard to make out, and 2) there were only 50 words and I desperately wanted to learn more. Overall? The typography didn't keep me from enjoying this book at all though, and I'm an eternal optimist for more untranslatable words in our nearing future.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love the pictures and the unusual words - i bought 2 copies so I can frame each picture and word delightful artwork in my opinionPublished 12 hours ago by firstname.lastname@example.org
Gorgeous illustrations! Overall it was a very charming book.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Gorgeous book, full of amazing artwork. A total delight :)Published 1 month ago by Courtney J Roberts
Absolutely love this book. Forget how I heard about it, but I borrowed it from the library and decided I had to have my own copy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Irene Labombarde
From the introduction:
"Perhaps you'll find the word that perfectly describes your second cousin once removed..."
Do I have one of those? Hm... Read more
It's an interesting book, and I'm glad I own it, but I am disappointed that it doesn't cover many more words. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Elizabeth Bennett