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Traduire Linné en français à la fin du XVIIIe siècle

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The Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) wrote his entire scientific œuvre in Latin. Because of both the rarity and costliness of his books and the decline of Latin as the language of science in France, Linnæus' partisans tried from 1780 onwards to translate his major works into French. Quesné's integral translation of the Philosophia botanica of 1788 is characteristic of this attempt. But this enterprise encountered major difficulties, as some translators proposed a wholesale 'Frenchisation' of the Latin terminology, while others preferred to explicate Linnæus' terse style by means of paraphrases and commentaries. The origin of the problem resides in the fact that Linnæus had created a new language at once to describe and to name living beings. The translators' dilemma was also one of readership : were their translations to be used by experts or rather as pedagogical tools by learners?

Affiliations: 1: Université Bordeaux 1


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