back to top
DIY

16 Fantastic Words That Can't Be Translated Into English

The beautifully illustrated book Lost in Translation showcases a collection of words you never knew you needed before.

Posted on

1. In 2013, English artist Ella Frances Sanders was working as an intern for Maptia when she wrote and illustrated a post on untranslatable words.

It was "a casual blog post on a Wednesday," she told BuzzFeed in a delightful intercontinental phone call. The then-19-year-old never expected how massively popular it would become; after the post was picked up by The Huffington Post, it was circulated to over 2.5 million readers all around the internet.
Ella Frances Sanders

It was "a casual blog post on a Wednesday," she told BuzzFeed in a delightful intercontinental phone call. The then-19-year-old never expected how massively popular it would become; after the post was picked up by The Huffington Post, it was circulated to over 2.5 million readers all around the internet.

2. "The numbers didn't really mean much to me!" she said, laughing, but when her future editor tweeted at her about a possible book deal, Lost in Translation was born.

Ella Frances Sanders

3.

Ella Frances Sanders

4. Ella chose to defer her place at university in order to focus on the book.

It took her about three months to finish the 50+ illustrations.
Ella Frances Sanders

It took her about three months to finish the 50+ illustrations.

5.

Ella Frances Sanders

6. She especially enjoyed illustrating this word:

And said of other, more abstract images that "it's hard enough to put [some of them] into English, let alone a picture."
Ella Frances Sanders

And said of other, more abstract images that "it's hard enough to put [some of them] into English, let alone a picture."

7.

Ella Frances Sanders

8. Ella travels a great deal, and she's currently freelancing and partaking in what she called "procrastiworking."

And she'd love to work on a children's book or a book of idioms and old-fashioned phrases next. Of the time difference between her (many) locations and the people she works with in the United States, Ella said "I do a day, and then at 4 p.m. the Americans start waking up and I do another day!"
Ella Frances Sanders

And she'd love to work on a children's book or a book of idioms and old-fashioned phrases next. Of the time difference between her (many) locations and the people she works with in the United States, Ella said "I do a day, and then at 4 p.m. the Americans start waking up and I do another day!"

9.

Ella Frances Sanders

10. As for going back to school, Ella said she does think about it, but "I can study at any point; I think I have enough brain cells to get by right now. I'm in no rush!"

Besides, "If I can avoid being 20k in debt, that sounds great for now."
Ella Frances Sanders

Besides, "If I can avoid being 20k in debt, that sounds great for now."

11.

Ella Frances Sanders

12.

Ella Frances Sanders

13.

Ella Frances Sanders

14.

Ella Frances Sanders

15. "A year ago today," Ella said, publishing this book was "the last thing I would have thought would happen."

She doesn't know quite what will come next* but she "kind of likes it that way."*Apart from her 21st birthday, which is this coming Thursday!
Ella Frances Sanders

She doesn't know quite what will come next* but she "kind of likes it that way."

*Apart from her 21st birthday, which is this coming Thursday!

16. Check out more of her incredible work and keep up with what Ella is up to at her website.

Ella Frances Sanders

Images reprinted with permission from Lost in Translation. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, and available now.

The best things at three price points