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Interpreters as Diplomats

A Diplomatic History of the Role of Interpreters in World Politics

Ruth A. Roland

Publication Year: 1999

This book looks at the role played throughout history by translators and interpreters in international relations. It considers how political linguistics function and have functioned throughout history. It fills a gap left by political historians, who seldom ask themselves in what language the political negotiations they describe were conducted.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Perspectives on Translation

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pp. 1-6

No matter who we are or where we live, we are all, thanks to translation and interpretation, contemporaries of every historical period and citizens of every country. The author of this work enables us to discover a collection of fascinating characters who, although they worked in the shadows of some of the ...

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pp. 7-8

Somewhere in the chronicles of political history there hides a "missing link/' Library shelves overflow with accounts of bilateral and multilateral conferences, meetings with heads of state, as well as regular, ongoing political and economic contacts at the international level. Surely, thoughtful readers must often ...

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CHAPTER 1 The Linguist of Ancient and Medieval Days

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pp. 9-39

As anthropologists know, even the most primitive of peoples maintained an intertribal communication which must be deemed an elementary form of diplomacy. But since not all tribes spoke the same language, it is certain that some of the emissaries were bilingual. Although sign language and message sticks were commonly used, at least one authority ...

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CHAPTER 2 Europe and the New World, to 1919

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pp. 41-81

We have seen how bilingual Greek scholars, steeped in Byzantine diplomatic lore, relocated to the four corners of Europe and, in the greatest numbers, to Venice. From them the Venetians learned the art of diplomacy, transmitted what they had learned to the other Italian city-states, and thence to the capitals of Europe. ...

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CHAPTER 3 East–West Confrontation: China, Japan, India

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pp. 83-120

Among China's first civil service appointees, following the introduction of Confucian-type examinations in 165 B.C., were translators and interpreters (Ostrower 1965, 1:234). As supervised by the Board of Rites through the Residence for Envoys (Meng 1962:5), most of the work involved only the 10 tongues spoken in China's tributary states, since "foreign relations," to ...

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CHAPTER 4 From Versailles (1919) to the United Nations

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pp. 121-155

At Versailles in 1919, the "Big Four" (fig. 5) met either at the private apartment of President Wilson or in the French War Office. At these parleys among Wilson, Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (occasionally with the Japanese delegate), only one "outsider" was present ...

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CHAPTER 5 Outstanding Interpreters

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pp. 157-174

It might be enlightening to take a peek at the careers of a few of the more outstanding interpreters of the 20th century. As should have become apparent by now, the best linguists are bona fide intellectuals, as the career of Jean Herbert (1952) amply testifies. ...

Works Cited

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pp. 175-200


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pp. 201-209

E-ISBN-13: 9780776616148
E-ISBN-10: 0776616145
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776605012
Print-ISBN-10: 0776605011

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 1999

Series Title: Perspectives on Translation