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Translation in an International Perspective

Cultural Interaction and Disciplinary Transformation

Antoine Cazé and Rainer Lanselle

Translation scholars have for a long time been arguing in favor of a shift in paradigms to redefine the relationship between translation and the spreading of knowledge. Although a substantial share of worldwide knowledge is conveyed thanks to translation, the effects of this state of affairs upon the ways in which knowledge is actually built are all too rarely taken into account. This is particularly the case in the humanities.
The papers presented in this volume fall into three thematic categories – cultural transfer, terminology and literature. The authors are all scholars in the humanities, and some of them are also translators. They analyze the effects of translation in diverse domains such as the intercultural exchanges among Far Eastern countries, and between Asia and the West; the constitution of terminologies; clinical practices in psychoanalysis; and the impact on the definition of literary genres.
Each contribution shows how the act of translation is an integral part of the humanities, producing effects which may often be unforeseen and surprising but are always occasions for innovation.
This volume contains contributions in English and French.
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Translate Scripture and Change the World – How Translation Transformed a Language, a World-View, a Text: An Example from East Asia



In the third century B.C., Livius Andronicus, a slave from southern Italy freed by a wealthy Roman family, translated Homer’s Odyssey into Latin verse. Unfortunately, this translation has been lost – only a few intriguing lines survive. At the same time, east of the Mediterranean in the great Hellenistic cultural center of Alexandria, an intellectual undertaking of much greater proportions was unfolding. The effect of this hardly compare with Livius Andronicus’s isolated attempt. I refer here to the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a project which would require several centuries to complete and whose influence on European culture would be profound. Let us set aside for the moment the shadowy translation of the Odyssey into Latin and, from a more ancient era, the adaptation-translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumerian into Akkadian at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. When we do this, it becomes clear that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, later known as the Septuagint, rightfully deserves to be called Antiquity’s first translation, because it fulfills all the necessary conditions for a literary project to thus be called. There must first be a clearly-constructed and identified source text (which may differ from the one favored by an earlier tradition). Second, one or several ← 23 | 24 → individuals must be consciously dedicated to the task of transposition. Finally, the translation must take on a life of its own independent of the source text. Although this last point is decidedly a...

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