The letter, the dictionary and the laboratory: translating chemistry and mineralogy in eighteenth-century France

Annals of Science 73 (2):122-142 (2016)
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SUMMARYEighteenth-century scientific translation was not just a linguistic or intellectual affair. It included numerous material aspects requiring a social organization to marshal the indispensable human and non-human actors. Paratexts and actors' correspondences provide a good observatory to get information about aspects such as shipments and routes, processes of translation and language acquisition, texts acquisition and dissemination.The nature of scientific translation changed in France during the second half of the eighteenth century. Beside solitary translators, it also happened to become a collective enterprise, dedicated to providing abridgements or enriching the learned journals with full translations of the most recent foreign texts. That new trend clearly had a decisive influence on the nature of the scientific press itself. A way to set up science as a social activity in the provincial capital of Dijon, translation required a local and international network for acquiring the linguistic and scientific expertise, along with the original texts, as quickly as possible. Laboratory results and mineralogical observations were used to compare material facts with those described in the original text. By providing a double kind of validation – with both the experiments and the translations – the laboratory thus happened to play a major role in translation.



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Traduire Linné en français à la fin du XVIIIe siècle.Pascal Duris - 2007 - Early Science and Medicine 12 (2):166-186.

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