Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

These Beautiful, Untranslatable Words Don't Exist In English

  1. Begin


    See All Slides
    Aside from sneakily listening in on good-looking tourists' conversations on the subway, the joy of learning another language comes with a whole new perspective on expression and articulation. The more dialects you explore, the more you come to realize that there are certain emotions and phenomena that — while common feelings amongst all humans — manifest themselves particularly well in a certain language.

    Lost In Translation, a thoroughly fascinating new book by Ella Frances Sanders, opens up that world of "untranslatable" words for even those of us who flunked out of freshman-year French.

    The book began with one simple blog post, and morphed into a final product that Sanders calls "beautiful, manic, incredibly interesting...actually, I might need to write another book to explain the process of making this one." Over the course of three months, she put together a list of words that simply can only be said one way, accompanied by beautiful illustrations you almost want to rip out and hang on your wall (which would be totally blasphemous to do to this endearing little tome). Sanders and the good people of Ten Speed Press graciously allowed us to republish a handful of our favorite words and illustrations here, for your polyglot pleasure.

    Check it out, then pick up a copy of the book for yourself!

    (You can also follow Sanders on Twitter and Instagram @ellafsanders, or explore her website here.)

    Begin Slideshow
  2. Image: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.


  3. Image: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.


  4. Image: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.


  5. Image: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.


  6. Image: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press.