What a Wonderful Word: A Collection of Untranslatables from Around the World

Nicola Edwards, Luisa Uribe

What a Wonderful Word: A Collection of Untranslatables from Around the World
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What a Wonderful Word: A Collection of Untranslatables from Around the World

Nicola Edwards, Luisa Uribe

Have you ever wished there was a word for friends who are like family to you, or for the way you hesitate when you’ve forgotten someone’s name? Did you know there was a special word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing the toilet? Or for when you search for something in the water using only your feet?

This hand-picked collection of untranslatable worlds from all over the world celebrates the magic of language, with gorgeous original artwork and fascinating facts about each word and the culture it comes from.


Exquisite in design and presentation, What a Wonderful Word celebrates words from around the world which defy simple, one-word English translation. These are words that give voice to the beauty of language and its ability to define life as seen by different cultures.

It’s no surprise there’s no English word for ‘walking through water to search for something with your feet’ (Murr-Ma in the Wagiman language of Indigenous Australians) or expressing ‘the distance a reindeer can walk before needing the toilet’ (Poronkusema in Finnish). But this wonderful book also offers words that define our common human experience: who hasn’t felt Tartle, a Scots word describing ‘hesitation because you’ve forgotten someone’s name’? Or resorted to Pelinti, the Buli word for ‘moving scalding food around your mouth to cool’?

The book even offers the perfect word to describe itself: it is Kazuri, the Swahili word for ‘small and beautiful’. It is that, and it is perfect for anyone between the ages of 7 and 70 who loves words or is what the Russians might call a Pochemuchka (‘curious child’).

Athina Clarke is the children’s book buyer at Readings Malvern.

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