Review: Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders

“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 illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions.

This book helped me find parts of myself and old memories that I’d unfortunately forgotten. And for that I’m beyond grateful.

“There may be some small essential gaps in your mother tongue, but never fear: you can look to other languages to define what you’re feeling, and these pages are your starting point.”

As always, I picked out the expressions that managed to explain and capture a lot of the moments I’ve had in the past but couldn’t put into words.

Italian: lost-in-translation-1-bookspoils

“v. To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears.”

Swedish:lost-in-translation-2-bookspoils“n. The road – like reflection of the moon in the water.”

Dutch:lost-in-translation-3-bookspoils“adj. 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.”

Welsh: lost-in-translation-4-bookspoils

“n. This literally means a “blue smile”; one that is sarcastic or mocking.”

Malay:lost-in-translation-5-bookspoils“n. The time needed to eat a banana.”

Welsh:lost-in-translation-6-bookspoils“n. A homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were.”

Icelandic:lost-in-translation-7-bookspoils“v. Not being ready to spend time or money on a specific thing, despite being able to afford ”

Russian:lost-in-translation-8-bookspoils“v. To fall out of love, a bittersweet feeling.”

Japanese: lost-in-translation-9-bookspoils“n. Gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific.

Indonesian: lost-in-translation-10-bookspoils“n. This refers to a joke so terrible and so unfunny that you cannot help but laugh.”

The best kind of jokes!!

Yiddish: lost-in-translation-11-bookspoils“n. Someone who seems to have nothing but bad luck.”

This is one of my favorite words in Yiddish!! I try to use it daily.

Yiddish: lost-in-translation-12-bookspoils“n. A witty riposte or comeback you think of only when it is too late to use. Literally, “staircase words.”

Swedish:  lost-in-translation-13-bookspoils“n. The restless beat of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation.”

Farsi:  lost-in-translation-14-bookspoils“n. The twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone.”

Wagiman:  lost-in-translation-15-bookspoils“v. The act of searching for something in the water with only your feet.”

Hungarian:   lost-in-translation-16-bookspoils“adj. When meeting someone for the first time, and your intuition tells you that they are a good person, you can refer to them as “szimpatikus.”

Inuit:   lost-in-translation-17-bookspoils“n. The act of repeatedly going outside to keep checking if someone (anyone) is coming.”

YES! This was exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Yiddish:   lost-in-translation-18-bookspoils“n. Refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer and literally means “air person.”

Brazilian Portuguese:lost-in-translation-19-bookspoils“n. The act of tenderly running your fingers through the hair of somebody you love.”


Not only were the illustrations extremely gorgeous, but the expressions were exactly the ones I’ve been looking for. I’m so, so glad that books like this one exist.

“If you take something away from this book other than some brilliant conversation starters, let it be the realization (or affirmation) that you are human, that you are fundamentally, intrinsically bound to every single person on the planet with language and with feelings.”

And I’m really on the look-out for books similar to this one!!

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Lost in Translation, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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