I picked up my copy of Lost in Translation for the first time and it fell open at Fika, a Swedish verb meaning “Gathering together to talk and take a break from everyday routines, usually drinking coffee and eating pastries – either at a cafè or at home – often for hours on end.” This is because Fika is my 5-year old’s favourite word. Next on her list is “Samar”, Arabic n. “staying up late long after the sun has gone down and having an enjoyable time with friends.”

She has worked them into the English language in ways thoroughly unintended and each time I am able to pull out the perfect word for an emotional occasion, her eyes lit up and she says, “That’s exactly it! That’s exactly what I mean to say, but there is just no word for it.” Turns out, there is a word for almost everything, just not always in the English language.

Lost in Translation is a small, manageable, engaging, enjoyable chunk of words from a wide range of languages across the world that capture a moment perfectly. The way light filters through a tree, solving problems with frugal innovation, falling out of love, the marks left on the skin when wearing something tight, sensing the passing of time on a cosmological scale. They are often strange words for English speakers that holds a special kind of magic.

Fika is already starting to make it into the English language – thanks Ikea! – and I hope more will follow. It is always nice to know just the right word for each situation and this little book holds many new words to learn, use and enjoy.

Product Information

Retailer: Amazon +

Price: ± £5 – £7.50
Delivery costs: Free Delivery

About Ella Frances

“Ella Frances Sanders is a writer out of necessity and an illustrator by accident. She currently lives and works in the city of Bath, UK, without a cat. Her first book, ‘Lost in Translation – An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words’ was a New York Times bestseller, and her second book, ‘The Illustrated Book of Sayings’ will be published in September 2016.”*


It’s a small coffee table book printed on thick pages with beautiful, timeless illustrations. I bought it as a gift for a five-year-old just starting to learn how to read and she was enthralled by its beauty, accessibility and it really opened up her mind around language and it is capable of conveying. I keep picking it up as well, making it one of those rare gems that are written for multiple generations.

  • Genre: Coffee table book
  • Target age range: Children, Teens, Adults, Older adults
  • Target gender: Unisex/gender neutral design

Environment & People

educationalinclusivedesignBuild quality


It’s a beautiful book with a lovely collection of words and for £7.00, (£4.99 for the Kindle edition), it’s a cost-effective choice and would make a lovely gift or coffee book table.


Product dimensions: 17.3 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
Pages: 112 pages
Available formats: Kindle edition, Hardcover
Publisher: Square Peg
Release date: June 2015
Language: English


Culture and language is closely tied together. Learning a new word easily coincides with embracing a new habit, finding a new perspective or remembering how you really want to live your life. When my 5-year old gets frustrated with a mistake she made and cannot fix when creating something, I say Wabi-Sabi, which translates to find the beauty in imperfection and incompleteness. As we arrive at a beach, shoes are kicked off and she impatiently encourages everyone to get their shoes off for murr-ma, – time to go treasure hunting with our toes!

Lost In Translation is a lovely collection of beautiful words, but it is also a binder of life lessons as each word has been carefully selected to have high emotive expression that encourages a positive outlook and embraces a mindful approach to life.

Highly recommend.


The review is based on the Hardback copy of Lost in Translation. This article was first published on 26 August 2016 and last updated on 14 November 2016.