Anglo-Dutch translations of medical and scientific texts

Fransen, S.
Literature Compass


In the seventeenth century the use of vernacular languages became more and more accepted in scientific publications and communications, and began to supplement the traditional language in this field, namely: Latin. The increase in the number of languages used in science and medicine was accompanied by a heightened need for translators. The close relationship between England and the Low Countries in the seventeenth century has led to a focus in the existing research on political and religious issues, and this has been reflected in the study of translations between English and Dutch.

Yet one also finds in the fields of medicine and science an exchange of ideas through translation. The language skills of both Dutch and English men and women were often not sufficient to understand each other's language, which means that translations were vital. By considering the examples of how Thomas Browne's Religio medici was translated into Dutch, and how letters by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and a publication by Jan Baptista van Helmont were translated into English, this essay examines the exchange of scientific and medical ideas across the Channel.

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