The Habsburg Monarchy's Many-Languaged Soul

Translating and interpreting, 1848–1918

ORCID logoMichaela Wolf | University of Graz
Kate Sturge | Aston University
ISBN 9789027258564 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
e-Book Open Access
ISBN 9789027268686
Google Play logo

In the years between 1848 and 1918, the Habsburg Empire was an intensely pluricultural space that brought together numerous “nationalities” under constantly changing – and contested – linguistic regimes. The multifaceted forms of translation and interpreting, marked by national struggles and extensive multilingualism, played a crucial role in constructing cultures within the Habsburg space. This book traces translation and interpreting practices in the Empire’s administration, courts and diplomatic service, and takes account of the “habitualized” translation carried out in everyday life. It then details the flows of translation among the Habsburg crownlands and between these and other European languages, with a special focus on Italian–German exchange. Applying a broad concept of “cultural translation” and working with sociological tools, the book addresses the mechanisms by which translation and interpreting constructs cultures, and delineates a model of the Habsburg Monarchy’s “pluricultural space of communication” that is also applicable to other multilingual settings.

Published with the support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

[Benjamins Translation Library, 116] 2015.  xvii, 289 pp.
Publishing status: Available

For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at

Table of Contents
“The book is an important contribution to the research on translation, multilingualism and language policies in the Habsburg Monarchy, with a very detailed overview of the role of different types of translation and interpreting, both habitualized and institutionalized, in creating multicultural spaces of the Monarchy. In addition, it places translation within the wide theoretical framework characterized by the “cultural turn” in translation studies. Applying the concept of cultural translation and working with sociological tools, the book successfully addresses the mechanisms by which translation and interpreting construct culture, and outlines a model of the Habsburg Monarchy’s “pluricultural space of communication” that is applicable to other multilingual settings. What I find especially valuable is the very detailed and thorough research into translation practices in the Habsburg Monarchy in the period under consideration, revealing numerous less known or completely new aspects of the Monarchy’s multilingual policies and practice. The book will be of interest to anyone interested in multilingualism, language policies, historical sociolinguistics and translation studies and it opens new directions of research into the role of translation in multilingual settings, offering possibilities of comparison between the Habsburg Monarchy and the European Union.”
“This is a ground-breaking study and a model of scholarship. Wolf’s exploration of translation in the Habsburg monarchy is remarkable not only for its pioneering incursions into unexplored territories, but also for the clarity of the concepts it invents and deploys. And I must add at the outset that the book’s success is enhanced in English by a first-class translation by Kate Sturge, which uses precise and theoretically savvy language throughout. [...] Wolf’s excellent work of scholarship opens the door to a host of new possible areas of study.There is huge potential for the study of multilingual sites in the Habsburg lands, in particular the fabulously variegated cities, which produced a rich literature of borders and contact. Wolf’s own research has turned rather to further exploration of the area of translation and conflict, testing the limits of translation in new ways, questioning how one can speak of mediation or negotiation in situations of extreme violence. As with the Habsburg research, Wolf’s concern is to engage with activities of translation that have social impact but have not as yet been integrated into translation studies. This is important work and counts among the most stimulating contributions to the field today.”
“Wolf introduces methods that are so effective in laying bare piece by piece the translation practices and policies at work in the Habsburg Monarchy that it is merely a matter for inspired researchers to adopt them and apply them to other multilingual states or institutions. After all, many of the sources she used are available for other countries or regions as well, such as advertisements, bibliographical overviews of translated books, literary prizes, censorship laws, and political debates. Being able to compare different people’s and governments’ approaches to multilingualism would allow us to understand even better what features are specific to one context and which are universal or typically nineteenth-century and/or European.”

Translation & Interpreting Studies

Translation Studies

Main BIC Subject

CFP: Translation & interpretation

Main BISAC Subject

LAN023000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Translating & Interpreting
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2015002602