This is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy--or any--translation from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities. The entries, written by more than 150 distinguished scholars, describe the origins and meanings of each term, the history and context of its usage, its translations into other languages, and its use in notable texts. The dictionary also includes essays on the special characteristics of particular languages--English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Originally published in French, this one-of-a-kind reference work is now available in English for the first time, with new contributions from Judith Butler, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Ben Kafka, Kevin McLaughlin, Kenneth Reinhard, Stella Sandford, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jane Tylus, Anthony Vidler, Susan Wolfson, Robert J. C. Young, and many more.The result is an invaluable reference for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the multilingual lives of some of our most influential words and ideas.

From the introduction: 

“In order to find the meaning of a word in one language, this book explores the networks to which the word belongs and seeks to understand how a network functions in one language by relating it to the networks of other languages.”

About the Author

Barbara Cassin is a distinguished French philosopher, philologist, and philhellene, renowned for her work in the fields of the history of philosophy, Greek tragedy, and psychoanalysis. Born on October 24, 1947, in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, Cassin has carved a niche for herself in the academic world, particularly through her exploration of the nuances and complexities of language.

Cassin's academic journey is marked by her profound engagement with the intricacies of language and its philosophical implications. She completed her doctoral thesis under the supervision of the eminent philosopher Jacques Derrida, a relationship that significantly influenced her intellectual trajectory. Her thesis, later published as "Si Parménide," delves into the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, underscoring her deep interest in ancient Greek philosophy.

One of Cassin's most notable contributions to the field of philosophy is the "Vocabulaire Européen des Philosophies: Dictionnaire des Intraduisibles," commonly known as the "Dictionary of Untranslatables." This monumental work, first published in French in 2004, is a collaborative effort involving more than 150 scholars. It examines the untranslatable elements within European philosophical terminology, offering a comprehensive analysis of key concepts that defy easy translation across languages. The dictionary is not merely a linguistic tool but a philosophical exploration of how language shapes thought.

Cassin's oeuvre extends beyond the "Dictionary of Untranslatables." Her other significant works include "Google Me: One-Click Democracy," where she critically examines the impact of the internet and search engines on knowledge and democracy. Additionally, her engagement with psychoanalysis, particularly through her work on Jacques Lacan, reflects her interdisciplinary approach, intertwining philosophy, language, and psychoanalytic theory.

Cassin's contributions have been recognised through numerous awards and accolades. She was elected to the prestigious Académie Française in 2018, a testament to her standing in the French intellectual community. Her work continues to influence contemporary philosophical discourse, particularly in the realms of language, translation, and the interplay between different cultural and philosophical traditions.