Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Hosington, Brenda

Translation and the Dynamics of Cultural Transfer: The Case of Neo-Latin and Early Modern English

Translation has always been central to the dissemination of knowledge in all branches of intellectual and practical endeavour, constituting one of the most important and dynamic means of cultural transfer throughout the ages. This is especially true for early modern England, where over 6000 translations were printed between the advent of printing and the middle of the seventeenth century. Of the nineteen foreign languages represented, Latin dominates as the most frequent source language and enjoys virtual exclusivity as a target language. Within the corpus of 2035 Latin translations, roughly 1200 concern Neo-Latin. These will be the subject of the paper. They represent a wide variety of topics and an impressive range of authors, demonstrating the extent to which translation acted as a cultural transmitter. The fluctuations in numbers from one period to another (incunabula, humanist, Elizabethan, Stuart) also reflect peaks and troughs in the book trade. Their paratexts often reveal translative concerns and patterns of patronage. Lastly, these translations shed light on the status of Latin and its rapport with the vernacular. Particular attention will be paid to works translated from English into Latin, a rather neglected field, since the only two studies available (Leonard Grant, 1954 and Peter Burke, 2007) cover the whole of Europe rather than focussing on England.