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History Of Translation

etienne dolet

[INTRODUCTION TO TRANSLATION THEORY – Coursework Essay] Various scholars have highlighted the importance of translation history. To what extent would you agree and why? Discuss and exemplify, making reference to at least two theorists.   Translation history mimics history itself. Any post-Babel relationship between tribes, nations, continents, peoples, involves translation and translators as different cultures possess different tongues. Relationships across time involve translators and interpreters to intermediate and add to the charms of civilization. ‘It is not too difficult to see how translators throughout their history have acted as both guardians and traders. They have acted both as the zealous elaborators and protectors of national languages and literatures and as the indispensable intermediaries in the opening up of the world to the circulation of commodities, people and ideas.’ Cronin (2003:70) From war to famine, dispersion of knowledge, empire building, conquest, religious missionaries, all aspects of what we know as history involves translation. In this essay I aim to isolate a few key critical moments in the history of translation and to identify key people who have paved the way for translators in the modern world. French postage stamp depicting the translation martyr, Étienne Dolet   One of the most interesting characters in the history of translation is Étienne Dolet. A French translator, Dolet aligned himself against the modus operandi. His dissidence, obviously backed with intellectual strength and passionate commitment to his work, made him persona non grata with the leading educational establishment in France. The Sorbonne would be the natural enemy of Dolet and as powerful and intimidating as it was, the battle could only ever end in defeat for the individual. Dolet, as an intellectual, formed part of the Ciceronian group of translation scholars. They believed that Latin should be written in the ancient style of Roman orators and writers such as Cicero; a classical Latin. They disagreed with the church-influenced modern Latin, en vogue with scholars such as Erasmus and the predominant style of European writing and thinking. Dolet was a purist and felt that the original Latin thinkers and creators of the language and its culture were not misdirected by the linguistic needs of the later movement that was Christianity. Ultimately, this passion for classicism led Dolet to the stake. Religion was taken seriously in the Middle Ages and blasphemy was a heinous offense. In his efforts to translate Plato, Dolet, paid no heed to the Christian…

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