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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Lost in Translation? Bildung between Ideological Debate and Pragmatism: A Response to Julia Campos

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The term Bildung is notoriously difficult to translate. Though it is often translated as “education,” this does not entirely convey its meaning nor entirely explain its use in a myriad compounds such as Bildungssprache (language of/for education), Bildungsweg (path to education), Allgemeinbildung (general education/knowledge expectations), Ausbildung (education for professional purposes), Halbbildung (semi education). Richard Rorty (2009) attempted to transfer this term into English more fittingly by coining the term “edification” as a portmanteau of education and qualification; other translators have focused on its meaning as a formative process (for an individual’s personality).

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