‘Lost in Translation’ by Ella Frances Sanders *****

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.

9780224100809Sanders’ introduction to Lost in Translation is lovely; in thoughtful and well-written prose, the author highlights just how important different concepts are in cultures other than the British.  She clearly has a passion for collecting rather obscure linguistic references, and is eager to share those important finds with her readers.

I would highly recommend Lost in Translation, as well as Speaking in Tongues.  Whilst neither book is particularly literary, or very taxing, each entry, along with the wonderful illustrations which accompany it, is a real joy for the word nerds amongst us.

Below are a few of my favourite entries from Lost in Translation, which is undoubtedly a tome which I shall pick up many times in future.

  • Gezellig (Dutch): essentially the Dutch version of hygge, a Danish trend which is everywhere at present.
  • Pisan Zapra (Malay): the time needed to eat a banana.
  • Hiraeth (Welsh): a homesickness for something or somewhere you cannot return to; the nostalgia for your past, or for something imagined.
  • Boketto (Japanese): gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking of anything specific.
  • Vacilando (Spanish): when the experience of travelling is more important than the destination.
  • Tsundoku (Japanese): the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, and piling it up with other unread books.
  • Naz (Urdu): the pride and assurance that comes from knowing that you are loved unconditionally.
  • Cafone (Brazilian Portuguese): the act of running your fingers through the hair of somebody you love.

There have been glowing reviews about this gift book already, and I hardly need to add to them.  Regardless, if you are looking for a thoughtful gift, or merely want to treat yourself, I would look no further.

Purchase from The Book Depository

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