Friday, February 19, 2016

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

 As an English teacher, writer, and lover of language, I am fascinated by how culture causes language to evolve. When I lived in Germany and attempted to learn German, the words I seemed to stick with me the most were the ones that had no direct English equivalent. To this day, Schadenfreude continues to be my favorite German word because it so perfectly captures a less flattering but all too true side of humanity in a single, rhythmical utterance.

And so a book like Lost in Translation titillates the lover of words in me that seeks new and different ways to express feelings and describe life experiences.

This illustrated picture book for adults is the perfect gift for the word nerd in your life and can be a great source of discussion about how culture shapes our language and also to show students why tools like Google Translate don't always get it right.

A few of my favorite words from the book:

Commuovere - Italian
(verb) to be moved in a heartwarming way, usually related to a story that moved you to tears

Resfeber - Swedish
(noun) the restless beat of a traveler's heart before the journey begins, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation

Tsundoku - Japenese
(noun) Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled together with other unread books

Struisvogelpolitiek - Dutch
(noun) literally translated to "ostrich politics,"  AKA, burying your head in the sand

My one and only complaint with this book is that the author/illustrator's choice of lettering often made the definitions and sometimes the words themselves difficult to read. I would have liked her to have considered a different way of lettering to make for better ease of reading. Other than that, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 112
Format/Genre: Picture Book/Nonfiction
Audience: Adults
Disclosure: Library Copy

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

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