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Naming the problem: Proper nouns, translation and multilingualism in early modern print

Thursday 2 May 2024, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Sara Barker, University of Leeds

Translation was a mainstay of the early modern printing industry, taking place at all levels of the printed book trade. Less attention has been paid to the realities of ‘practical’ translation than to the more illustrious endeavours of literary and religious translation, both at the time and in subsequent scholarship. This is despite the flourishing of translation studies as a discipline over the last few decades, and interest in the history of translation in particular, when early modern evidence has much to tell us about some of the trickiest aspects of translation, such as how to render proper nouns, and the tendency to hide translation when producing certain kinds of text.

This paper will outline what we know about the place of translation within news production in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, before exploring the challenges of rendering the names of foreign people and places at a time when spelling itself was not fully standardised. It will compare how names from Western Europe were handled with those from more geographically and culturally distant places. It will argue that historians have much to learn from translation research, not least as Anglophone scholars often face similar challenges around translation in our own work.

No registration needed for in person attendance, just for online only.

About the speaker

Sara Barker is Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leeds, where she is also Director of the Centre for the Comparative History of Print. She is currently completing a monograph on news translation in early modern France and England, and is developing a future project on the materiality of the pamphlet in early modern France.

Location: BS/104, The Treehouse