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Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words
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Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,958 ratings  ·  549 reviews
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
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published June 4th 2015 by Square Peg (first published September 16th 2014)
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Start your review of Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words
Luftmensch (Yiddish)... refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer and literally means 'air person'. Or: your head is in the clouds and you are not coming down anytime soon!
For someone with a linguistic education background (me!), this is a very interesting and also fun book! I know all about the hardships of untranslatable words between languages. It's all about freely translating meanings and describing, finding the right words. This booklet is a collection of untranslatable words from vario
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: makemesmart
GURFA (Arabic): The amount of water that can be held in one hand.

 photo IMG_4554_zpsjv0dusew.jpg

ah, the rich tapestry of language! i love the inspiration of compiling a book like this - it provides a fascinating, if superficial, look (let's call it a glance) at some of the values of different cultures and the experiences in life in distant lands - the things/feelings one part of the world has identified as necessary to communicate that other languages lack, the ineffable 'whatness' that makes up a zeitgeist. oh! like zeit
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the prettiest books I've ever read/seen.

A dictionary of untranslatable words, this book beautifully and brilliantly brings together two elements: 1) it offers up super interesting words you never knew you wanted to be able to say in English, and 2) such gorgeous illustrations.

I loved flipping through this and learning about cultures that have special words for special quirks, words for things I've experienced but couldn't name. Definitely recommended!
Heidi The Reader
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lost in Translation is a slim volume of doodles with accompanying definitions of untranslatable words from many languages around the globe. It's a treat.

There are words for feelings that I'm certain everyone has experienced... we just lacked the language to describe it appropriately.

This book showed me how universal emotions and perceptions can be and the difficulty of capturing the indescribable in words.

But we've certainly given it a good try.

I liked the words that described fleeting moments o
Jon Nakapalau
Wonderful book about language and the words we invent to convey meaning. My favorite word in this book: "Kabelsalat" - German for Cable Salad - the mass of wires that connect everything in our homes and offices. ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The words in this book may be answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask, and perhaps some you did. They might pinpoint emotions and experiences that seemed elusive and indescribable, or they may cause you to remember a person you’d long forgotten.”

After having read and loved The Illustrated Book of Sayings earlier this month, I was beyond ecstatic to pick this book up.

Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illust
While the general set-up of Ella Frances Sanders' Lost in Translation is most definitely much easier and as such considerably less of a strain on the eyes (or at least on my ageing eyes) and therefore already format-wise exponentially better and massively superior to her oh so personally frustrating and annoying for me The Illustrated Book of Sayings, and although this was indeed a rather entertaining and diverting way to spend a half hour or so, there are still far too many niggling little issu ...more
Frannie Pan
book #1 of 2016

Italian review @ frannie pan's dreamcatcher

I'll be honest: when I decided to buy and start this little book, I thought it was going to be a nice little something, a collection of weird and interesting words that I would have forgotten the minute after I read them but that it would have been fun to read, a pleasant and entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.
And it was. But it was also so much more.

I think my whole reading experience was influenced by a sentence the author wrot
Loved this, it was really fascinating. I wish it'd been longer though, I finished it in less than half an hour and was left wanting more. I'm sure there must be thousands of words in the world that are untranslatable in English, why only pick fifty?

The words that were showcased were interesting, some of them had rather beautiful and poignant meanings behind them, other words were a tad bonkers (like the word for how long it took to eat a banana, I kind of loved it though).

Loved the illustration
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be able to borrow Ella Frances Sanders' Lost in Translation, from my local library. I received a copy of Speaking in Tongues for Christmas, and loved it, so my hopes were high for her debut. (Yes, I clearly like reading books by this particular author out of their original publication order). Lost in Translation is a wonderful compendium of untranslateable words and phrases which have no equivalent in English.

Sanders' introduction to Lost in Translation is lovely; in though
A charming little book with some delightful words and wistful illustrations. It was tough to pick out my favorites, but here they are (only the last image in this review is actually from the book):

Welsh noun meaning a homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were.

Japanese noun meaning finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death.

Arabic noun meanin
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
I received a digital ARC for review.

I love this type of book. Between the covers of this book are words in other languages that are not easily translatable. Unlike most introductions, this one is poetic in and of itself and well worth the read. The illustrations are dreamlike and haunting in a way.

Just a couple of gripes:
1. I would have preferred the WORD first before the translation. In my digital copy, I had to read the definition and origin first, and then see the word. I'm guessing they are
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delight this book is, hitting all the right notes for the mind, emotions and eyes! Lovely watercolor illustrations of 53 words from languages around the world that do not have an equivalent word in English. Of course, we can communicate the meaning of the word in English, but not with just a single word. A few favorites:

MERAKI adj. Pouring yourself wholeheartedly into something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity and love. From Greek. It is not a surprise that Greeks have
I loved this one, I'd give it 4.5 stars.
Having studied languages, I thought it was so fascinating to read a small collection of words which are untranslatable in English (and in most of other languages too).
Some words were dreamy, others made me smile and other words gave me a warm feel.
I totally recommend this book to everyone who loves languages, beautiful illustrations and is just passionate about this subject. It would even made a very nice gift.

Some of my favorite words.

Gezellig: Dutch adj.
BEAUUUUTIFUL book! Only heart eye emojis can do justice to describe the illustrations for each of these words.

Also, my all time favourite word "Jugaad" made it to the list.

Here are my new favourites, which I might start using now. :3
BOKETTO (Noun, Japanese)
Gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific.

IKTSUARPOK (Noun, Inuit)
The act of repeatedly going outside to keep checking if someone (anyone) is coming.

The feeling of being a
Simply fascinating! This book made me think about all the countries I want to visit and all the languages I want to learn. I recommend Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World for those who love words and foreign cultures.

Some of my favorite discoveries:

Gezellig (Dutch)
Describes much more than just coziness – a positive warm emotion or feeling rather than just something physical – and connotes time spent with loved ones, togetherness.

Meraki (G
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This is a great book to gift to a person who loves words, and consequently, to book lovers. Actually, I see this book more as a souvenir than as a book someone would buy for themselves.
The graphic composition of the book is very pleasing to the eye. The illustrations are simple yet well-thought.
Throughout it there are words from a lot of different languages, words that I never imagined existed, both in concept and as a word itself.
What I didn’t like that much about it was the lack of organizatio
Lovely and charming. I always want more of these kinds of words in my life. The illustrations and hand-lettering are also really delightful.

Some favorites:
-Pizanzapra (Malay) n. The time needed to eat a banana.
-Tsundoku (Japanese) n. Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.
-Murr-ma (Wagiman) v. The act of searching for something in the water with only your feet.
-Tíma (Icelandic) v. Not being ready to spend time or money on a specific thing, des
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful compendium, and I'm glad it didn't make it to my Tsundoku :) This book felt like Komorebi in my personal collection, and it's definitely one that I will keep going back to, again and again. Fills me with Boketto! ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Hmm, Good collection of words that made a hole in my wallet! Is there a word for it?
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a devoted Linguistics fan and a serious language dabbler, I really appreciated this book.
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
When I read Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, I ended up disappointed because I thought it would be more definite than it was. I guess I was thinking that the world MUST look different in other languages and that particular book was rather ambivalent about it.

But this book just makes me think even more that language must shape world view. I mean, if you grow up in a culture whose language needs a word for how long it takes to eat a banana, surely you m
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I really liked the idea of this book. In actuality, though, I had a few complaints. The pages with the untranslatable word, its definition and illustration were just beautiful. However, on the facing page is this little paragraph that reminded me of coffee-table book drivel. It didn't really add to the translation most of the time, and sometimes even made a quip when the definition was about something mournful or quiet, something that could speak for itself. I thought they were unnecessary. Also ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language
It's a cute little book, sure... the drawings were kind of nice too. It wasn't as informative as I had hoped personally, perhaps I expected too much. You can look up list after list of fun untranslatable words from around the world online after all and it's not just that I knew almost all of the words featured in this book. It's more that I would have desired more than a "nice" drawing; how about etymology, how and why this word came to be, when it is used in what context, if it's more of a regi ...more
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful gem of a book with untranslatable words from around the world. Some of the languages I'd never heard of and it was interesting to try to match the meaning of the word to the culture. A favorite from Germany kummerspeck literally "grief bacon" meaning excess weight from overeating. Quirky ones: the amount of water one can hold in one hand, and one for how long it takes to eat a banana. Ones I wish there were an English equivalent for " the road-like reflection of the moon in the wate ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
I originally picked this up as I had a free £10 amazon voucher and wanted to buy something just for me.

this is not something my family or friends would read so was just for me.

I'm glad I got it "used" from amazon as I wouldn't want to pay full price.

I follow Karen on good reads and her suggestions and reviews are usually bang on. I picked this up due to one of her reviews and I think this is why I'm so dissapointed.

I don't see what she saw and although factual and interesting, I found the image
Michelle (Sherbet Lemon)
This book is gorgeous and filled with beautiful words and words that describe things we've all experienced before, but have never thought to create a word for. The illustrations, explanations and meanings are just perfect. I didn't get the word for a third cup of coffee in Swedish being in there though, as it just didn't match the brilliance of the rest of the words. ...more
Jennifer B.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
A nice little collection of interesting words, but probably nothing you haven't already seen online before. ...more
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Let’s be honest. Main reasons why I bought this book at first:
- It looked cute. Like really cute, one of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen, definitely worth adding to my collection;
- I'm totally obsessed with words and foreign languages so this tiny book seemed perfect for me.

That was pretty much it. But then I got back home with my little red paper bag, sat down on the couch, opened the book and Oh. MY. GOD. Love at first sight. It just made me want to learn all the languages and dialects of t
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Ella Frances Sanders is an internationally-bestselling author and illustrator of three books. She lives near a windswept coastline in Ireland.

Her first book, ‘Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words' was published in September 2014 by Ten Speed Press and became an international bestseller. It sat on the New York Times bestseller list for 4 consecutive months, was an

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