Against a backdrop of growing interest in historical and sociological approaches to the translation of science, this paper explores the conceptual potential of Andrew Pickering’s ‘mangle of practice’ (Pickering 1992; 1993; 1995; Pickering and Guzik 2008) as a sociological framework for research into the translation of science. Pickering’s approach is situated within a performative idiom of science and seeks to account for the interplay of material and human agency in scientific practice. It sees scientific and technological advances as emerging temporally from a dialectic of resistance and accommodation, metaphorically the mangle of practice. This paper introduces the main tenets of Pickering’s argument, contextualizing it within the field of science and technology studies. It then explores some of the implications of construing translation in these terms. Firstly, this conceptual approach helps to recognize the role of translation in the performance of science and to seek ways of studying translation practices as an integral component of scientific practices. Secondly, Pickering’s posthumanist or decentred perspective focuses on both material and human agency and the interplay between them; a similar approach to the study of translation would foreground the interaction between translator agency and material performativity in studies of translation practices. I conclude with proposals for adopting this ontological shift in translation studies, where it may have the potential to enhance our understanding of translation practices, in particular in relation to tools, technologies and sociotechnical developments in translation.
Most translator training courses focus on encouraging students to reflect fully, to analyze deeply, and to weigh options carefully. However, as they near the end of a translation program, they must also begin preparing for the workplace, where they will need to translate on tight deadlines. Therefore, the addition of authentic and situated learning that tests and improves students’ translation skills under time pressure makes sense. This article describes a pilot project in speed training that took place in a scientific/technical translation course taught during the final semester of a translation program at the University of Ottawa. As part of the experiment, 29 students participated in nine speed training exercises on texts dealing with various scientific/technical subjects. Gamification was introduced as a pedagogical strategy to engage the students during the speed training. The resulting translations were analyzed, the students’ progress was charted over the course of the semester, and they were surveyed about their experience. Though not scientifically valid, the results nonetheless suggest that students can benefit from speed training. Participants reported feeling more confident in their abilities and judgment and less likely to rely blindly on information resources.
The Jiangnan Arsenal (1865-1912), a publicly-funded bureau dedicated to the production of military equipment in late Qing China (1664-1911), was established in response to China’s painful defeat in the two Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). The Arsenal’s translation department, staffed by a total of fifty Chinese scholars and nine Westerners at different times, was set up in 1868 to translate and publish translations of Western books and treatises on science and technology. It was the first official unit charged with this task. Its stated pragmatic function was to assist the arsenal technicians in their production of weapons, although the translations were also marketed to outsiders. Viewed organically, the Arsenal’s translation department was in many ways a reflection of the ideological and social transformations experienced by China, the Chinese scribes, and the Western oral translators in the late 19th century. A study of this translation institution is therefore relevant to translation studies in three regards. First, the Arsenal’s four decades of existence and its emphasis on the function of translation suggest the importance of translation to imperial China’s pursuit of modernization. Second, the voluminous translated texts published by the Arsenal reflect the collaborative efforts of Western missionaries and Chinese literati, typical in the second half of the 19th century. Third, the Arsenal’s combined role, encompassing both translation and publication, inspired the emergence of journals that published translated articles on Western science, technology, social sciences, and literature at the turn of the 20th century. China’s modernization agenda was significantly advanced by the resulting broader exposure to Western ideas, even though the direct role played by the Arsenal remained rather limited.
This paper aims to show, through a diachronical study, how concepts imported from Western civilization were named in South-East Asia, through the help of dictionaries and a huge database of ancient Japanese and Korean texts. This study is part of a research project specializing on Korean, Japanese and Chinese neology. The terminology used in this study is indissociable from the sociopolitical context. Neology, first introduced by the missionaries in the 17th century and continued in the 19th century, led to the creation of religious as well as scientific terms. However, for the sake of modernization, it is Japan who contributed the most to scientific neology, first through its contact with the Dutch, and more thoroughly at the period of “the Opening” to the West at the end of the 19th Century. In addition to Japan, other countries followed a parallel evolution in the creation of neologisms using the same processes of lexical creation, but to lesser extents, especially for religious terms and words related to everyday life. However, for scientific terms, the Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese borrowed heavily from the Japanese, via translation or retranslation of Western works translated into Japanese.The abandonment of Chinese words in favor of Japanese neologisms not only by the Koreans but also by the Chinese themselves, and the preference of the Japanese for phonetic loans can be attributed to the defeat of China in the Sino-Japanese War (1895) as well as by the innovative and attractive nature of Japanese neologisms. Ultimately, for the sake of linguistic identity, the Chinese, and especially the Vietnamese after 1919, conceived their own neologisms.
This paper seeks to situate Philemon Holland’s 1601 translation of Pliny’s Natural History in the context of the development of early modern English science. While Holland’s Pliny has traditionally been studied in terms of the early modern reception of the Classics, the establishment of an English rhetoric of translation and the development of English prose, this paper focuses on the discursive and paratextual strategies at work in Holland’s rendering of the botanical and medical books of Pliny’s Natural History. Drawing on and broadening Genette’s definition of paratexts as liminary spaces of authorial—or translatorial—control and self-fashioning, the paper explores the complexities of Holland’s self-defined translation project as the “divulging” of Pliny’s medical and botanical knowledge to a broadened readership. Whereas the prefaces to both volumes of the Natural History rely on the rhetoric of utilitas, or usefulness, to span the spectrum of potential readers, from schoolchildren and “inferior readers” to Humanist scholars and physicians, a closer analysis of the marginal annotations in books XIX to XXVII of the Natural History shows Holland integrating the Continental tradition of learned commentary denouncing the factual, interpretive, and methodological errors in Pliny’s treatise. It is argued that the resulting tension between text and paratext, and between Holland’s prefaces and other kinds of liminary material, ultimately reflects changing attitudes towards ancient science, and the very nature of scientific knowledge in early modern England.
In 1859, prominent British naturalist Charles Darwin publishes On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life (or OS). In this book, Darwin introduces his theory of evolution (TE), which has been shrouded in controversy since its inception. Yet, despite the book’s profound impact on the world at large, its French translations have rarely been studied. The few existing studies have focussed on translations by Clémence Royer, a controversial translator infamous for having coopted Darwin’s writings to serve a more radical agenda. But the fact remains that the canonical French translation of the OS is the one by Edmond Barbier, not Royer; three translators, two contemporary to Darwin and one modern, have also translated the book. Therefore, we aim to compare and contrast these various French translations with their original text and amongst each other on the basis of hedges, epistemic modality markers that attenuate the degree of certainty associated with a statement. We wish to determine how each translator has expressed epistemic modality in his/her text and show that the modern translation is closest to the original. Unexpectedly, Royer’s translation, long decried by critics, is closer to Moulinié’s and Barbier’s translations than previously anticipated.
According to many authors, 19th century translators were responsible for the entire translation project, from choosing the author and source text to finding a publisher. In some cases, authors accused translators of highjacking their work, as when Darwin refused the translation of his theory of evolution by Clémence Royer. An hypothesis could be that, in a practical field such as surgery, where texts circulate techniques rather than revolutionary theories, the translated text consists essentially in the transfer of factual data from the source to the target text. A detailed analysis of Lister’s writings about the antiseptic principle, translated by Brussel-born Gustave Borginon (1882), is more nuanced and reveals a “functional” fidelity that preserves the entire methodology of the antiseptic method. However, references to the intellectual filiation between the antiseptic principle and germ theory are strongly attenuated. Also, Lister’s convictions are noticeably downplayed in the translated text. Nevertheless, a number of clues suggest that Lister knew about these modifications, which would foster the acceptance by reluctant French surgeons of an innovative and efficient method.
As was the case in the past, translation is for the Arab World the high road to
modern knowledge. Thus, the status of translation from and into Arabic has been a topic of
discussion for two decades. This paper compares diachronically the different status of this
transfer. It seeks to bring to light barriers to its development while putting its problems
in a socioeconomic context inherent to the Arab world. Arabic cultural heritage of the past
is inadequate for the 21st century. This study highlights the importance to learn
from successful experiences of other modern nations to reflect current science.
In the media coverage of the subprime crisis of August 2007, it is through
translation that journalists worked to explain its causes, which were of American origin, to
the Canadian French and English readerships. In order to efficiently convey complicated
concepts and the gravity of the situation, journalists resorted to metaphors of the
accident, the cataclysm, the catastrophe and the epidemy. The article analyzes the
conceptual metaphors found in La Presse, Le Devoir, The Toronto Star and The
Globe and Mail and argues that far from being harmless commonplaces they propagate a
neoliberal ideology of economics.
Far from being restricted to exchanges between experts, specialised knowledge is mediated to audiences with different levels of specialization, from scientific reviews to newspaper articles. This diversity constitutes an often-overlooked challenge for translators. As a matter of fact, while documentation and terminology are always crucial, translation decisions are based on communicative parameters as well as cognitive and linguistic criteria. Although it is self-evident that linguistic choices are determined by the proficiency level of the readership, few authors have attempted to specify what those choices are and how the correlation operates, most notably in popularization discourse, and none of them has considered potential differences between languages and cultural settings. The focus of the paper is a bilingual (French and Spanish) corpus study carried out on newspaper articles dealing with stem cell research and cloning published in four different geographic regions (France, Quebec, Spain, Argentina). An original methodology was implemented for data collection and analysis. The number and nature of expressions used to convey each concept were then analyzed. Discursive strategies widely assumed to be a hallmark of popularization, like definitions and explanations, were also taken into account. Indices of metaphorical conceptualization and the underlying modes of conceptualization were identified. This study provides concrete data to a debate that remains largely theoretical, and supports the conception of specialized communication as a continuum. The results go against well-established ideas about popularized texts, specially regarding the trademark status of “didactic features.” It seems imperative to acknowledge the heterogeneity of popularization and to consider the role of textual genre constraints in the way specialized knowledge is introduced. Furthermore, the data obtained seems to substantiate the recent questioning of the canonical view of popularization as a mere translation.