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Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World Hardcover – September 16, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A New York Times bestseller.

"...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 

About the Author

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 ellafrancessanders.com. 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (September 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607747103
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607747109
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Pisanzapra is definitely not a Malay word.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of course, as a writer, I love language--and I'm always looking for that perfect word to reflect an emotion or action. This brief book is filled with perfect words collected from around the globe. It's also a little peek into the soul of different cultures.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I am head over heels in love with this charming, creative book. I love learning about these words from other cultures for which there is no English equivalent. It has the effect of making you feel much more connected with people around the world. Even though we might not have the same word in English, often the feeling or concept behind the word is universal. The words chosen for this book are often beautiful and evocative, such as Komorebi, which is the Japanese word for the way sunlight filters through tree branches. Just learning about the words themselves is fascinating, but the unique illustrations give this book extra appeal. They have a child-like quality about them, very imaginative and whimsical. I decided to check out the author's website (http://ellafrancessanders.com), which features even more of her designs, and I hope we'll see more from this talented artist. I've decided this will be the gift book I give to friends and family this fall. It's a book that exudes positivity and connectedness.
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Format: Hardcover
If you've ever felt like you were at a loss for words, then this volume may help.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is the perfect hand-held sized art book, and the front cover copy isn't too shabby either. What lies nestled just in between this book's beautiful pages? Stunning untranslatable word-studded illustrations. Gorgeous, silly, surprising, swoon-worthy, untranslatable words - some words I've never heard of, and one or two I've seen lurking around literary fringes of the web. Lost In Translation is a book that can be read in a single sitting, however it's also a book that you'll want to hang onto for years to come, so you can look back at all those words that don't translate over into English, but are delightful and beautiful to truly know, nevertheless.

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.
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