Multilingual Lexicon

One of the aims of this project is to build a multilingual lexicon of environmental terms. We have been gathering words and phrases that are key to different nature-cultures in order to learn about

  • how different languages think and talk about the environment
  • what other connotations a word such as ‘land’ might have in translation
  • what vocabulary of environmental violence, resistance and (in)justice have developed across different histories and geopolitical contexts
  • what resonances, convergences and divergences emerge across different languages of the environment
  • and how a multilingual and multicultural lexicon of environmental terms can help us in our efforts to rethink our relationship to the more-than-human

The entries below can be filtered by language. Each entry includes the word or phrase, the language it’s in, an English translation, the definition, and details about the author.

We want to keep developing this multilingual lexicon and are interested in submissions of words of phrases from any language field(s), geographical and historical context(s). If you would like to contribute, we’d be delighted to hear from you – please contact us with any ideas or questions at Entries should be approximately 500-1,000 words in length, and can of course include images, hyperlinks, or anything else that you’d like to share.

S-O-S/SÓS Mayday/Alone


The O.E.D. defines the acronym S-O-S as ‘The international radio code-signal of extreme distress, used esp. by ships at sea’. However, in the book Chapapote (‘Tar’ 2022), Galician writer Manuel Rivas analyses some of the symbols related to Galicia’s nature and environmentalism concerning the Prestige and other maritime disasters. He focuses on the words ‘Mayday’ […]

terra land, soil priscilianismo (Priscilianism), monte veciñal en mán común (common hand community land)


The natural landscape and the terra (land) have played a key role in the articulation of Galician national and cultural identity since the late nineteenth century (López Sande 2008; Domingues 2009; Pérez Moreira 2010). Rosalía de Castro’s poetry collection Cantares gallegos [Galician Songs] (1863), a major text in the revival of the Galician language, began […]

Terre land, earth, soil


Nous nous soulevons, chacun.e depuis notre endroit, chacun.e à notre manière. Le mouvement des Soulèvements de la Terre ne peut pas être dissout car il est multiple et vivant. On ne dissout pas un mouvement, on ne dissout pas une révolte. We are rising, each from their own place, each in their own way. The […]

Umwelt / Natur / Mitwelt / Nachhaltigkeit environment / nature / common world / sustainability


Natur and Umwelt are highly contested terms in German history and criticism, with both having numerous meanings, often being used interchangeably in daily and political life, and causing difficulty to then interpret environmental texts. Umwelt (translated as environment, most of the time) is usually used to describe the conditions of life surrounding human beings, for […]

Umweltbildung / Umweltbewusstsein / Umwelterziehung environmental education / environmental consciousness / environmental pedagogy


Umweltbildung deals with the environment and its value as a foundation for the life of human beings with each other. It presumes reciprocal relationships at its center and thus attempts to get from the acquisition of a basic environment-related knowledge to an understanding for eco-social connections in a value-based manner.i This education fosters competences to […]

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