Friday, December 6, 2019

Mini Review: In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore

Title: In Other Words: An Illustrated Miscellany of the World's Most Intriguing Words and Phrases
Author: Christopher J. Moore
Illustrator: Lan Truong
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: Hardcover, 128 pages
Source: Little Library

Book Description:

"A delightful treasure house, literally a thesaurus, of linguistic marvels." --from the foreword by bestselling author Simon Winchester

A colorfully illustrated collection of more than ninety untranslatable words and phrases and the unique insights they offer into the cultures they come from.

Ever racked your brain for a word you're convinced should exist, yet is inexplicably absent from the dictionary? All languages have their limitations-should English fall short, the expression may lie elsewhere. That's where this book comes in: a quirky, international lexicon of linguistic gems that capture cultural untranslatables with satisfying precision.

Take for example the Japanese yoko meshi, “a meal eaten sideways,” describing the experience of trying to communicate in an alien tongue, or mono-no-aware, the appreciation of life's sadness. From the distinctive coziness of the Danish hygge, to the unrestrained dis of the Mayan bol (“in-laws” and “stupidity”), to the profound collectivism of the Zulu concept of ubuntu (roughly, “I AM because WE ARE"), these mots justes are grouped according to language and prefaced with insightful overviews of the relevant cultures by linguist Christopher J. Moore.

Embellished with 20 entertaining new untranslatable words and phrases and 90 characterful color illustrations by Lan Truong, and with a foreword by Simon Winchester, In Other Words is amusing, profound, and unputdownable--a gorgeously packaged gift book to entertain even the most well-versed polyglot with marvels of language from around the world.



I adore words and language. It's why I pursued degrees in several of them. It's why I have a love/hate relationship with all the articles from places like Buzzfeed called things like "25 CRAZY Words You Won't Believe Exist in Europe!!!". When I saw this little book tucked away in my local little library box, I knew I had to give it a read.

It's a short book but has a lot of information in it, as it's a collection of words, phrases, and idioms that don't have exact translations in English. It's divided by region/language/country.

Each word or phrase has a cute little illustration to go along with it, and is near the pronunciation guide, the definition, the history of how it came to exist as a phrase, as well as examples on when or when not to use it and (when applicable) the nuances of using it.

I was pleased that I knew most of the British and French ones.... But I didn't know most of the rest. It's definitely educational, but written with a sense of humor so that it doesn't just read like a dictionary or textbook.

If you're a fan of languages or Etymology, or are looking for a gift for an English teacher, this book is perfect.


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