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Untranslatables of Antiquity: from Philosophy to Historical Anthropology

Les intraduisibles de l’Antiquité : de la philosophie à l’anthropologie historique

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Published on Monday, May 03, 2021 by João Fernandes

Summary

Translating is an act of opening oneself, mutual exploration and intercommunication between two cultures, allowing for the transfer of a semantic concept from a language to another. Moreover, this process has to meet several needs and practices, both different and contradictory. Thus, whatever it is the principle applied in the process, resulting in a translation either very close to its original source [Berman 1984] or adjusted to the rules of the target language [Eco 2007], translating demands to adapt and transform the semantic core. Once a word, or a category of words, is transferred from a linguistic system to another, this process brings about a semantic shift which makes the word itself an “untranslatable”. These “untranslatable” words can be provided by different sources, such as manuscript transmission, epigraphy, numismatic and modern literatures.

Announcement

Argument

Translating is an act of opening oneself, mutual exploration and intercommunication between two cultures, allowing for the transfer of a semantic concept from a language to another. Moreover, this process has to meet several needs and practices, both different and contradictory. Thus, whatever it is the principle applied in the process, resulting in a translation either very close to its original source [Berman 1984] or adjusted to the rules of the target language [Eco 2007], translating demands to adapt and transform the semantic core. Once a word, or a category of words, is transferred from a linguistic system to another, this process brings about a semantic shift which makes the word itself an “untranslatable”. Using this concept of “untranslatable” and following the path of the collaborative research directed by B. Cassin in her Vocabulaire européen des philosophies [Cassin 2004], we are now willing to apply it to Ancient Greek and Latin, from the point of view of Historical Anthropology, Linguistics and Philology. These “untranslatable” words can be provided by different sources, such as manuscript transmission, epigraphy, numismatic and modern literatures. So, these words can be of different origins, such as:

  • the product of a transfer between Ancient Greek or Latin and a modern language (e.g. Lat. dictator); between Ancient Greek and Latin;
  • the result of different integration processes of a word, or a category of words, attested in either Ancient Greek or Latin, among distinct modern languages (e.g. the category of the “divinité poliade” existing in the French and Italian scholarship and arising from the Gr. polias, but attested as “city deity” in English [Bonnet & Pirenne-Delforge 2013]).
  • a word whose successive translations have atrophied the original polysemy, (e.g. kallos translated as “beauty” in the philosophical and esthetical lexicon but bearing in Ancient Greek a more complex and shaded meaning);
  • a lexical homology for concepts which do not overlap completely (e.g. religio and superstitio in the Roman world), producing a semantic shift, thus the creation of modern epistemological categories (e.g. religion and superstition), not covering the same semantic function as in the Ancient World;
  • a reality of the ancient World which does not exist in the target language, resulting in a borrowing (e.g. agora, forum…) rather than to a translation.

Moreover, we also accept proposals concerning methodological issues connected to the study of “untranslatables”, e.g. the different approaches used by scholars, both ancient and modern, in order to solve the problems of translation due to the transfer from a language to another, as well as within the same language.

Event format

We invite young scholars working on the different research fields mentioned above and interested by these issues to participate to the workshop which will take place either at the Campus Condorcet Paris – Aubervilliers or online, as the situation evolves, the 1st and 2nd July 2021.

During the workshop, everyone will be invited to tackle an “untranslatable” word, or a category of “untranslatable” words, of Ancient Greek or Latin origin, and analysing them in one of the official languages of the conference (namely French, English, German, Spanish and Italian).

Submission guidelines

Young scholars willing to take part in the workshop can now submit an abstract of max 3500 characters, including spaces, accompanied by a selected bibliography, as well as a short presentation including name, family name and affiliation to the following email address intraduisibles2020@gmail.com

by the 17th May 2021 at 6 p.m. CEST. 

 For further information (concerning the scientific committee, the publication...), you can check our website  : https://lida.hypotheses.org/ .

Scientific committee

  • Vincent Azoulay, Directeur d’études à l’EHESS
  • Charles Delattre, Professeur des Universités à l’Université de Lilles
  • Christian Jacob, Directeur de recherche au CNRS et directeur d’études à l’EHESS
  • Daniele Miano, Associate Professor à l’Université d’Oslo (UiO)
  • Francesca Prescendi, Directrice d’études à l’EPHE
  • Violaine Sebillotte Cuchet, Professeure des Universités à l’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Places

  • 14 Cour des Humanités
    Aubervilliers, France (93)

Date(s)

  • Monday, May 17, 2021

Keywords

  • intraduisibles, traduction, transfert, emprunt, monde romain, monde grec, antiquité

Information source

  • Audrey Vasselin
    courriel : intraduisibles2020 [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Untranslatables of Antiquity: from Philosophy to Historical Anthropology », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, May 03, 2021, https://calenda.org/867964

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