Language and knowledge in early modern Britain

Event Date: 
15 Nov 2019 to 16 Nov 2019

circulating words, expanding lexicons

 

 

Organised by the universities of Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris Diderot, Paris Nanterre, Angers, and the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, as part of a series of events devoted to the uses of polyglossia in the early modern period, and sponsored by the Institut Universitaire de France.

 

Confirmed keynote speaker: Philip Durkin, Oxford English Dictionary

 

In the early modern period, the humanist practice of translation of sacred as well as secular texts created new readerships in the vernacular for authoritative texts, religious or classical. While the circulation of vernacular languages within Europe contributed to reshuffle hierarchies between classical languages and vernacular tongues, the role of a unified language to promote unity was highlighted at a national level in manifestos (such as Joachim Du Bellay’s Deffence et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse from 1549, itself adapted from Sperone Speroni’s Italian 1542 Dialogo delle lingue). Transmission via translation was thus not only vertical, but also horizontal, and the contacts between European languages allowed for expanding local lexicons from sources other than Latin or Greek. In England, the controversy about “inkhorn terms” – those foreign borrowings, mainly from Romance languages, which were deemed superfluous by some because Saxon equivalents already existed – is well known. 

 

In this context, the conference will focus on the role of translation and lexical borrowing in the expansion of specific English lexicons (erudite, technical, or artisanal) as evidenced in printed texts from the early modern period. In an age of technical progress, geographic discoveries, easier communication, but also of growing interest in theorizing national literature and defining literary genres, how does multilingualism in print contribute to define specialised lexicons? What is the technical, but also the rhetorical import of the foreign words used in English texts? Are polyglot writers and speakers represented as particularly knowledgeable? Particular attention will be paid to translations (including self-translations) and to texts which feature a significant portion of non-English vocabulary in order to try and evidence potential correlations between the language used, the type of knowledge the author aims to share, the authority s/he intends to claim, and the targeted readership(s).

 

Possible topics of investigation include (but are not limited to):

  • moral philosophy, natural philosophy, history and politics
  • manuals of craftsmanship and treatises on arts and techniques
  • arts of rhetoric and poetry, apologies for poetry or drama
  • poetic, prose and dramatic works making use of foreign lexicons or foreign characters
  • travel narratives

 

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short (100-word) biography to the conference organisers: polyglossiaconference@gmail.com by 20 May, 2019 (notifications of acceptance will be sent by 10 June). Papers will be given in English. A selection of papers will be published.

 

Organisers:

  • Mylène Lacroix, Université d’Angers (CIRPaLL)
  • Sophie Lemercier-Goddard, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (IHRIM – CNRS UMR 5317)
  • Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 (PRISMES) & Institut Universitaire de France
  • Ladan Niayesh, Université Paris Diderot (LARCA – CNRS UMR 8225)
  • Laetitia Sansonetti, Université Paris Nanterre (CREA) & Institut Universitaire de France

 

Scientific Committee:

  • Anne Coldiron (University of Florida)
  • Mark Greengrass (University of Sheffield)
  • Ton Hoenselaars (Universiteit Utrecht)
  • Agnès Lafont (Université Montpellier 3 – Paul Valéry)
  • Sandrine Parageau (Université Paris Nanterre)

 

For more information, see http://tape1617.hypotheses.org

 

Submission date for papers: 
20 May 2019