for the love of logophiles…

And here we are, in a brand new year.  The sun is shining, the house is quiet, birds are singing in the yard – and just this moment, one of our kitties entered the room…I can hear her (or him, depending which one it is) before I see her, due to the bell that dangles around her neck to keep the birds aware and warned of her presence.  It’s the small things that keep life humming along:)

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Yesterday, I received a belated Christmas gift – one that I purchased for myself and then promptly forgot about.  And what a lovely gift (and surprise!) at that.  A beautiful work of art: playful, magic, simple in its approach, enlightened in its deliverance, and thoroughly a joy to behold.

This gift is a delightful book called Lost In Translation a musing on words collected from ’round the world, with picturesque drawings/paintings/collage like renditions that pull you in with their bold colors and playful graphic images.  It is the work of a lovely young writer/illustrator by the name of Ella Frances Sanders, published by Ten Speed Press in Berkeley.     

Some of my favorites from this “illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world” follow below:

SAMAR –  n. Staying up late long after the sun has gone down and having an enjoyable time with friends.  (Arabic)

Meraki – adj. Pouring yourself wholeheartedly into something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity, and love. (Greek)

Komorebi – n.  The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees.  (Japanese)

Struisvogelpolitiek – n. Literally, “ostrich politics.”  Acting like you don’t notice when something bad happens and continuing on regardless, as you normally would. (Dutch) knock knock America!

Goya – n.  A transporting suspension of disbelief – an “as if” that feels like reality, such as in good storytelling.  (Urdu)

Luftmensch – n.  Refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer and literally means “air person”…thank the gods for our lofty and lovely “air people!”

Waldeinsamkeit – n.  The feeling of being alone in the woods, an easy solitude and a connectedness to nature.  

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How glorious these words, like a meal.  It never ceases to surprise me – my own delight in the sound and feel and emotional stir that a word, alone and in itself, can pull from me.  And while there is a lack of surprise in this, it does remain wildly a mystery to me.  Letters, words – our architectural building blocks that hold the power to create worlds more real than the brick-and-mortar world in which we inhabit.  How tremendously cool and phenomenal is that.

One more book that you should check out – that pulls on this love of The Word.  It is a German children’s book called Die Grosse Woerterfabrik (rough translation: The Enormous Fabric of Words) – about a world where only the rich can speak, as they are able to “purchase” words from the Word Fabric…and the poor can only hope to find old and used words thrown out in the trash, that they might speak at all.  It is a stunning book: in its expression, its visual depiction, and its tenderness.  

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…so for the love of words…and for the love of books.  Read.   And please do let me know what captures you!

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