An illustrated compendium of untranslatable expressions
Yesterday I bought this book by Ella Frances Sanders and I just can’t stop reading it. It was love at first sight and I was not wrong: I’m enjoying each and every page of this surprising, beautiful and engaging work.
Curious expressions from around the world
If you are a translator, a linguist, or you simply enjoy the intricacies of language, I bet you’ll love it too. In this book you’ll discover lots of hidden treasures from all over the world waiting to be found and over 50 beautiful ink illustrations that will make you smile and dream. It’s a quick enough read and makes the perfect gift for word nerds. It is a charming collection of drawings featuring quaint and funny expressions that have no direct translation into other languages, most of them quite surprising, hilarious or even shocking. Each phrase receives a two-page spread. On the right hand side, the author provides the phrase in its original language along with its translation—both of which are superimposed on the illustration. On the left hand side, Sanders interprets the expression’s meaning. Furthermore, the author gives context, history, the equivalent in different countries, if any, and takes notice that some of them are not true to facts. It’s no wonder it has become an international bestseller!
Most of the expressions in the book are idioms —with a figurative and often surrealistic meaning— showing the quirky ways people express themselves in different languages and cultures*, yet some of them are interjections which convey emotions in an astonishing and exclamatory way. The title of the book itself is a sort of idiom: speaking in tongues or Glossolalia is a phenomenon in which people speak in languages unknown to them.
*In Romanian, ‘îl scoţi din pepeni’, (literally, ‘To pull someone out of their watermelons’) is to drive someone crazy, a bit nuts. In French ‘J’ai le cafard’ (literally, ‘I have the cockroach’) means “(to) feel blue”, that is to say (to) feel sad, somber, or glum.
As for the author, her bio reads “Ella Frances Sanders is a writer out of necessity and an illustrator by accident. She currently lives and works in Bath, UK. Her first book, Lost in Translation – An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words is an international bestseller, and her second book The Illustrated Book of Sayings – Curious Expressions from Around the World was published in September 2016″.
So, without further ado, here are the covers and back cover:
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The illustrated book of sayings
Lost in Translation Note Cards: Untranslatable Words from Around the World