My Bookshelf: Lost in Translation

Recently I learned of this incredible website Blogging for Books and received “Lost In Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Francis Sanders only a few days later (c/o). And let me just tell you it is absolutely beautiful! This book is a collection of drawings featuring specific, unique foreign words that have no direct English translation. While studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, I quickly learned that just because you speak the same language does not mean that you will understand it. There were so many different phrases and expressions that I had to learn, ones that came up on a daily basis. If you are curious about the different Aussie lingo I learned while I studied down under, I wrote an article for Her Campus while I was at Bucknell! That experience made me all the more excited to read “Lost in Translation.” I love this book, not only is it filled with gorgeous drawings but reading through the pages creates a web of words that when strung together sound like a beautiful poem. Here are just a few of my favorite words that are lost in translation.

Commuovere is an Italian word meaning to be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears. I have experienced this numerous times and thought it was beautiful that there was a word for such a feeling in Italian.


In Yiddish the word Trepverter means a witty riposte or comeback you think of only when it is too late to use. Literally, “staircase words.” I have had this happen to me many times, only thinking of great response once the person walks away.


Resfeber perfectly describes the way I felt before I got on that 16 hour flight to Sydney, Australia. It is a Swedish word that means the restless beat of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins, a mixture of anxiety and anticipation.


Fika is a Swedish word that means gathering together to talk and take a break from everyday routines, usually drinking coffee and eating pastries – either at a cafe or at home – often for hours on end. Fika describes the way that I would like to spend every day!

When I first read this book, I decided to use post-its to mark my favorite words. Well than I ended up with a book filled with yellow sticky notes, I simply could not decide! However, for some reason I found myself particularly drawn to the Swedish words. Each one made me stop and think of a moment when I had experienced such an emotion or situation. It truly makes me want to pick up the language! It also reminded me of when my former sorority president would have a Swedish word of the day at the end of each of her emails. Reading this book brought up so many memories and moments in time that I was shocked a single word could describe.

After receiving my copy of “Lost in Translation” I was curious about the author Ella Francis Sanders. I was instantly impressed by the fact that this twenty-something not only wrote but also illustrated this stunning book. While reading her skills were readily apparent, but I was also taken by her lifestyle. She describes herself as someone “who intentionally lives all over the place,” a statement that I cannot help but envy. I admire anyone who understands the beauty, wonder, nerves, and adventure that traveling encompasses.

“Lost in Translation,” took me back to those adventurous months spent alone in a new country. Learning new phrases was such a wonderful aspect of a new culture, and made me feel increasingly connected to my new home. While flipping through this book, I felt delightfully lost in the translation of these beautiful and simply poetic words. The English major, reader, word nerd, and daydreamer within me truly cannot recommend this book enough.

If you are interested in reading or simply flipping through the beautiful illustrations of Lost in Translation…be sure to pick up a copy!

*This book was provided courtesy of Blogging for Books, but as always, all opinions are my own!*


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