The scientific revolution and its repercussions on the translation of technical discourse

  • Bennett K
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Abstract

The Scientific Revolution of the 17th century not only revolutionized the English world view, it also brought about profound changes on the level of discourse. Through a process of grammatical metaphorization (Halliday and Martin 1993), primary experience was linguistically reconstrued to create a picture of a static objective universe from which all subjectivity was effectively removed. The Catholic cultures of Continental Europe were initially resistant to the scientific worldview, remaining loyal for political and religious reasons to the earlier humanistic model (Bennett 2007a, 2007b). Nevertheless, by the late 20th century, with the pres- sures of globalization, most had developed a scientific discourse of their own, essentially calqued from the English model. The fact that this discourse was borrowed however, rather than resulting from an internal process of evolution, has led to certain grammatical and rhetorical inconsistencies, which raise problems for translation. This paper discusses some of the technical issues besetting the English translator of Portuguese scientific texts, including difficul- ties related to nominalizations, impersonal verb structures and the intrusion of features from the traditional discourse. It also considers ethical and epistemological questions resulting from the process of linguistic colonization (Phillipson 1992, Pennycook 1994). Keywords:

Author-supplied keywords

  • Calquing
  • English
  • Hybrids
  • Language change
  • Linguistic imperialism
  • Portuguese
  • Scientific discourse
  • Scientific revolution

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Authors

  • Karen Bennett

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