Translators through History

Editor and directors
Jean Delisle | University of Ottawa
Judith Woodsworth | Concordia University, Montreal
HardboundReplaced by new edition
ISBN 9789027216137 (Eur)
ISBN 9781556196942 (USA)
PaperbackReplaced by new edition
ISBN 9789027216168 (Eur)
ISBN 9781556196973 (USA)
e-BookReplaced by new edition
ISBN 9789027284938
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In AD 629, a Chinese monk named Xuan Zang set out for India on a quest for sacred texts. He returned with a caravan of twenty-two horses bearing Buddhist treasures and spent the last twenty years of his life in the “Great Wild Goose Pagoda”, in present-day Xi’an, translating the Sanskrit manuscripts into Chinese with a team of collaborators.

In the twelfth century, scholars came to Spain from all over Europe seeking knowledge that had been transmitted from the Arab world. Their names tell the story: Adelard of Bath, Hermann of Dalmatia, Plato of Tivoli. Among them was Robert of Chester (or Robert of Kent), who was part of an elaborate team that translated documents on Islam and the Koran itself.

Doña Marina, also called la Malinche, was a crucial link between Cortés and native peoples he set out to convert and conquer in sixteenth-century Mexico. One of the conquistador’s “tongues” or interpreters, she was also the mother of his son. She has been an ambivalent figure in the history of the new world, her own history having been rewritten in different ways over the centuries.

James Evans, an Englishman sent to evangelize and educate the natives of western Canada during the nineteenth century, invented a writing system in order to translate and transcribe religious texts. Known as “the man who made birchbark talk”, he even succeeded in printing a number of pamphlets, using crude type fashioned out of lead from the lining of tea chests and ink made from a mixture of soot and sturgeon oil. A jackpress used by traders to pack furs served as a press.

These are just some of the stories told in Translators through History, published under the auspices of the International Federation of Translators (FIT). Over seventy people have been involved in this project — as principal authors, contributors or translators and proofreaders. The participants come from some twenty countries, reflecting the make-up and interests of FIT.

[Benjamins Translation Library, 13] 1995.  xvi, 345 pp.
Publishing status: Obsolete
Table of Contents
“Translation scholars and translation studies are now belatedly discovering the importance of the translator. Translators Through History is an enormously valuable contribution towards redressing the balance.”
“I congratulate the FIT, the UNESCO and John Benjamins for bringing out this useful collection.”
“It is one of the most informative books I have ever read; not just informative about translation, but about every aspect of world culture and how it was spread.”
“The pivotal role of translators is the unifying criterion of Delisle and Woodsworth’s seminal work on translation history: here translators are depicted as bearers of crucial historical developments, iconically represented in every chapter ... Taken together, these pictures build up a larger representation of history, as if in a mosaic, where every single component plays a fundamental role in the definition of the picture as a whole.”
“The book as a whole is impressive, useful, and a surprisingly good read.”
“This work is almost overwhelming in the sheer number and richness of strands, episodes, and anecdotes it embraces. It is certainly an indispensable tool for anyone interested in translation history.”
“The main value of the book is to remind us that translation, like any other profession, has had its glories and its heroes.”
Cited by

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Translation & Interpreting Studies

Translation Studies

Main BIC Subject

CFP: Translation & interpretation

Main BISAC Subject

LAN023000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Translating & Interpreting
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ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  95049054 | Marc record