Illustrations of Foreign Words With No English Translation

Jan 30, 2015

Valentine's Day - seen by many as a romantic occasion - is a couple weeks away. But in Brazil today, another observance has its own romantic connotation.

Today is the day of "saudade" (pr: saw•'dah•djee) - inadequately described as a nostalgic longing for something.  

"Lost in Translation" features more than 50 words with illustrations
Credit Random House LLC

We tell you this not to give you your own nostalgic longing, but to introduce Ella Frances Sanders, for whom "saudade" was one of more than fifty words she studied, defined and illustrated to create her book.

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World showcases more than fifty illustrated words that have no English translation, but seem to express emotions and feelings better than any word we could find in our dictionaries.  The book caught the attention of Lake Effect's Mitch Teich, and he was able to speak with Ella Frances Sanders via Skype from the English countryside to discuss her fascinating and unique book.

"There's been a few instances where native speakers of say, Italian or Russian, have been commenting and disagreeing with themselves even, not even with me anymore...as to whether this word exists in this language, it's great," Frances Sanders said.

Lost in Translation materialized after Frances Sanders made a blog post for a startup company. Following a frenzy of internet enthusiasm for her work, she was contacted to adapt her illustrations for a book about language.