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Monday, 26 June 2023 15:49

Translation in Early Modern Diplomacies: Between Tradition and Innovation, German Historical Institute in Paris, December 14–15, 2023

The early modern period was a time of burgeoning diplomatic activity on the European continent characterized by the spread of resident diplomacy and the appearance of peace congresses. Linguistic practices were changing dramatically as well, including Latin, German and Italian progressively overshadowed by French as a pan-European medium of diplomacy. All these developments had a considerable impact on translation in diplomacy, affecting its functioning and role in various ways: translation departments were formed or expanded and redesigned, and the need to train translators in order to increase efficiency of foreign policy began to be felt by major powers. This eventually resulted in the foundation of schools for would-be translators and diplomats, and the development of various practices such as the linguistic training of »giovanni de lingua« or »jeunes de langues«. These innovations allowed early modern diplomacy to cope, at least to a certain degree, with an important increase in diplomatic contacts which led to an ever-growing diplomatic correspondence. However, some of these initiatives, such as the foundation of specialized schools, have been short-lived and have not led to sustainable results. Living and working in a multilingual and multicultural environment, translators often were cultural brokers with hybrid cultural identities. We would like to adopt a transnational and interdisciplinary viewpoint and consider the subject on the basis of new primary sources in the broad context of the development of translation and the evolution of diplomacy in the early modern period.

The questions which are of interest for the workshop include, but are not limited to the following:

• Traditions and innovations in the organization of diplomatic translation services;

• State and non-state actors and the formation of policies regarding translation in diplomacy;

• The role of translation in diplomats’ careers;

• Early modern institutions and practices for training translators and interpreters;

• (Hybrid) Identities of interpreters and translators and their role as cultural brokers;

• Lack of translating personnel and attempts to bypass such difficulties;

• Accuracy of translations and problems resulting from translators’ incompetence in diplomacy;

• Distrust of translators and interpreters, translation and secrecy in diplomacy, translators as negotiators;

• Translation in diplomatic relations with non-European powers;

• The role of translators in the formation of diplomatic, political and juridical terminology in vernacular languages.

Deadline for abstracts: 15 September 2023

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