What a Wonderful Word


What a Wonderful Word is an inspiring collection of words from around the globe.  None of the words can be directly translatable into English (except for ‘gobbledygook’ – the example from English).  However, all of the words describe a particular situation or experience unique to the country and culture of its origin.

For example, ‘gluggavedur’, from Iceland, describes weather that looks beautiful when one is inside but is way too cold when one goes outside!  Or how about ‘abbioco’ – the feeling of drowsiness and being replete after a big meal.

There is huge pleasure to be had on every page from learning new words but also from gaining some insight into the culture, world view and priorities of different peoples around the globe.

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What a Wonderful Word

A Collection of Untranslatable Words from Around the World

Nicola Edwards, illustrated by Luisa Uribe

(Little Tiger)

What a Wonderful Word is a sublime book for lovers of words.  It presents a word collection from all over the world, but words without a direct translation into English.  However, they all describe situations that are easily understood.  They are words that not only are succinct as different lived experiences, they also shine a light on the lives of those people who coined them. In so doing, they reflect their priorities, philosophy and world view.
Many of the words are inspiringly poetic and evocative.  ‘Kawaakari’ for instance, is Japanese for the ‘gleam of the last light reflected on a river at dusk’. Alternatively, some of the words can be uniquely practical and also amusing, such as ‘poronkusema’ – the Finnish word for ‘the distance a reindeer can walk between toilet stops’!  Perhaps more profoundly, the Hopi word ‘koyaanisqatsi’ describes the critical imbalance of the natural world.
Every word entry in this lovely book carries beautiful illustrations, while author Nicola Edwards provides colourful details about the traditions that surround them. What a Wonderful Word invites reflection from children about the endless inventiveness of world languages and it’s various peoples .


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