A few weeks ago, my aunt brought back from France an English-French dictionary, which drew my attention to translations of false friends, whose partial overlap in meanings leads to untranslatability, and adaptation is usually used instead for a more accurate matching.

Taking the example of the Indo-European linguistics, the dictionaries are currently being translated into different languages, which facilitates the search for not only French dictionaries, but also these in Spanish, Ukrainian, etc. In other words, current dictionaries have contributed to multilingualism, often capitalized by a skilled lexicographer, so that no dominant language is chosen, and the maintenance of plurality manifests the meaning and interest of the differences.

Additionally, starting from words instead of concepts forces translators to realize that languages philosophize. Surely there are simple circumstances, for example, when we encounter the word mimesis in English, we can decide by context, whether it should be translated into mimèsis in French, or mimétisme in biological terms. But for the Russian word Pravda, it is rather difficult to decide whether the adaptation will be justice or truth, and it’s even harder to judge if Geist in German is the same as spirit in English, in these cases only the instrument of philosophy works.

Based on this theory, each translation is an adaptation that develops its strategies and reflects on the effects it wants to produce. Just as lexicographers translate Chinese toasting to chin-chin, to translate is to understand how different languages produce different worlds, to make these worlds communicate, so that the language of the reader goes to the encounter with that of the writer.

Hence, when we do the translation, or the adaptation of untranslatable words, we must have the ambition, to constitute a mapping of philosophical differences. By exploring the link between language and thought, and building on these symptoms, we can understand, at least partially, how to move from one language to another, and how to proceed from a node of untranslatability to a network of multiplicity.