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Gate-keeping and localizing in scientific translation publishing: the case of Richard Taylor and Scientific Memoirs

  • MAEVE OLOHAN (a1)
Abstract

Growing interest in studying translation through a sociological lens and the relative lack of attention by translation scholars to the production of scientific translations provide impetus and rationale for this case study. Richard Taylor's editorial work for the Scientific Memoirs periodical is examined, with a particular focus on his conception of the utility of translation in the service of scientific advancement in Britain. The roles of gate-keeper and localizer of scientific material are attributed to Taylor, roles which he exercised through promotion of scientific translation, selection of texts to publish and editorial interventions in translations. The historical case study sheds light on activities of editing, translating and publishing science in mid-nineteenth-century Britain but is also illustrative of research areas where the interests of translation scholars and historians of science may converge. By centring attention on Taylor's editorial role, some of the material and social contingencies of this publishing activity are highlighted, enabling us to gain a deeper appreciation of scientific translation as sociohistorical practice.

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1 For a more detailed account than can be presented here see Munday, Jeremy, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications, London and New York: Routledge, 2001 (2nd edn 2008); and Chapter 1 of Tymoczko, Maria, Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators, Manchester: St Jerome, 2007.

2 See Cheung, Martha P.Y. (ed.), An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation, Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 2006; and Part II of Baker, Mona (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, London: Routledge, 1998 (2nd edn 2008).

3 Wolf, Michaela, ‘Sociology of translation’, in Gambier, Yves and Van, Luc, Doorslaer (eds.), Handbook of Translation Studies, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2010, pp. 337343.

4 See, for example, Inghilleri, Moira (ed.), The Translator (2005) 11(2); Wolf, Michaela and Fukari, Alexandra (eds.), Constructing a Sociology of Translation, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2007; Buzelin, Hélène, ‘Unexpected allies: how Latour's Network Theory could complement Bourdieusian analyses in translation studies’, The Translator (2005) 11(2), pp. 193218; Hermans, Theo, The Conference of the Tongues, Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 2007; Tyulenev, Sergey, Applying Luhmann to Translation Studies: Translation in Society, London and New York: Routledge, 2012.

5 This argument is expanded on in Aixelá, Javier Franco, ‘The study of technical and scientific translation: an examination of its historical development’, Journal of Specialised Translation (2004) 1, pp. 2949; and in Olohan, Maeve, ‘Scientific and technical translation’, in Bartrina, Francesca and Valera, Carmen Millan (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies, London: Routledge, 2012, pp. 441454.

6 These include works like Gutas, Dimitri, Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early Abbāsid Society (2nd–4th/8th–10th Centuries), London: Routledge, 1998; Montgomery, Scott L., Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge through Cultures and Time, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000; and selected papers in Olohan, Maeve and Salama-Carr, Myriam (eds.), The Translator (2011) 17(2).

7 See, for example, Olohan, Maeve, ‘Volunteer translation and altruism in the context of a nineteenth-century scientific journal’, The Translator (2012) 18(2), pp. 193215.

8 Philpotts, Matthew, ‘The role of the periodical editor: literary journals and editorial habitus’, Modern Language Review (2012) 107, pp. 3964.

9 Taylor's life and work are discussed in detail in a chronicle of the publishing house, in a first and then expanded second edition, by Brock, William H. and Meadows, Arthur J., The Lamp of Learning: Taylor & Francis and the Development of Science Publishing, 1st edn, London: Taylor & Francis, 1984; Brock, and Meadows, , The Lamp of Learning: Two Centuries of Publishing at Taylor & Francis, 2nd edn, London: Taylor & Francis, 1998. Shorter accounts are offered by Brock, William H., ‘The development of commercial science journals in Victorian Britain’, in Meadows, Arthur J. (ed.), Development of Science Publishing in Europe, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1980, pp. 95122; and Brock, William H., ‘Taylor, Richard (1781–1858)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Taylor owned the company from 1804. A seven-year period of partnership with his nephew resulted in the company name Richard & John E. Taylor, which later changed to ‘Taylor and Francis’ when William Francis took over from 1852.

10 Brock and Meadows, 2nd edn, op. cit. (9), pp. 103–105.

11 Taylor, Richard (ed.), Scientific Memoirs, Selected from the Transactions of Foreign Academies of Science and Learned Societies, and from Foreign Journals, vol. 1, London: Richard and John E. Taylor, 1837; Taylor, (ed.), Scientific Memoirs, vol. 2, London: Richard and John E. Taylor, 1841; Taylor, (ed.), Scientific Memoirs, vol. 3, London: Richard and John E. Taylor, 1843; Taylor, (ed.), Scientific Memoirs, vol. 4, London: Richard and John E. Taylor, 1846; Taylor, (ed.) Scientific Memoirs, vol. 5, London: Richard and John E. Taylor, 1852. These volumes are also available in a 1966 reprint by the Johnson Corporation, New York.

12 Taylor, Richard, ‘Preface to the first volume’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 1, op. cit. (11).

13 Lenz, E., ‘On the laws of the conducting powers of wires of different lengths and diameters for electricity’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 1, op. cit. (11), pp. 311324, 312.

14 ‘Taylor's Scientific Memoirs’, Mechanics’ Magazine, 7 February 1837, p. 350.

15 Taylor, Richard, ‘Notice relative to the publication of the Scientific Memoirs’, Philosophical Magazine (1837) 10(59), p. 81.

16 Babbage, Charles, Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of Its Causes, London: B. Fellowes and J. Booth, 1830. Babbage's view was supported by, among others, Brewster, David, ‘Reflexions on the decline of science in England, and on some of its causes. By Charles Babbage, Esq., Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge, and member of several Academies’, Quarterly Review (1830) 43(86), pp. 305342.

17 Taylor, Richard, ‘Advertisement to the first part’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 1, op. cit. (11). Taylor served with Tilloch as co-editor and co-proprietor (as well as printer) of the Philosophical Magazine from 1822 to 1825. After Tilloch's death, Taylor appointed Richard Phillips co-editor in 1826, and David Brewster joined Taylor and Phillips in 1832 following an amalgamation of the Philosophical Magazine with his Edinburgh Journal, producing the London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal.

18 For their critique of Babbage's and Brewster's position see ‘Alleged decline of science in England’, Mechanics’ Magazine, 26 May 1832, pp. 114–117.

19 ‘Taylor's Scientific Memoirs’, op. cit. (14), p. 349.

20 ‘Taylor's Scientific Memoirs’, op. cit. (14), p. 350.

21 ‘Taylor's Scientific Memoirs’, op. cit. (14), p. 349.

22 Taylor, op. cit. (17).

23 Taylor, op. cit. (12).

24 First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Postage; together with the Minutes of Evidence and Appendix, in The Sessional Papers Printed by Order of The House of Lords, or Presented by Royal Command, in the Session 1837–38, vol. 33, London, 1838, p. 315.

25 First Report, op. cit. (24), p. 329.

26 First Report, op. cit. (24), p. 324.

27 First Report, op. cit. (24), p. 325.

28 First Report, op. cit. (24).

29 First Report, op. cit. (24), p. 320.

30 For discussion of the particular situation of commercial science journals and their publishers see Brock, Development of Science Publishing, op. cit. (9).

31 ‘Taylor's Scientific Memoirs’, Mechanics’ Magazine, 18 November 1837, p. 112.

32 Taylor, op. cit. (12).

33 Taylor, op. cit. (15), p. 84. See Olohan, op. cit. (7), for an application of economic concepts of pure and impure altruism to this case.

34 Taylor, op. cit. (12). In a letter to Taylor, William Hamilton explained that he had used his inaugural presidential address to the Royal Irish Academy to call attention to the ‘too great isolatedness which at present exists between the various learned bodies of the world’, and he expressed hope that Scientific Memoirs would address this issue. William R. Hamilton to Richard Taylor, 8 March 1838, Taylor and Francis Archive, St Bride Library.

35 ‘The British Association. Ninth Meeting: Birmingham’, Literary Gazette, London, 7 September 1839, pp. 561–569, 569.

36 Report of the Eighth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, London: John Murray, 1839, p. xxv.

37 Taylor, Richard, ‘Preface to the second volume’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 2, op. cit. (11) pp. iiiiv, iii.

38 Stark, Susanne, ‘Behind Inverted Commas’: Translation and Anglo-German Cultural Relations in the Nineteenth Century, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1999, p. 13.

39 Levý, Jiří, ‘Translation as a decision process’, in Venuti, Lawrence (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader, 1st edn, London and New York: Routledge, 2000, pp. 148159.

40 Richard Taylor, ‘Advertisement for Volume 1 of Scientific Memoirs’, 20 March 1838, Taylor and Francis Archive, St Bride Library.

41 Taylor, op. cit. (17).

42 Crilly, Tony, ‘The Cambridge Mathematical Journal and its descendants: the linchpin of a research community in the early and mid-Victorian age’, Historia Mathematica (2004) 31, pp. 455497.

43 Richard Taylor to William Henry Fox Talbot, 3 May 1836, The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, available at www.foxtalbot.arts.gla.ac.uk.

44 ‘On the translation of foreign scientific memoirs’, in Report of the Tenth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, London: John Murray, 1841, pp. 446–447; Sabine, Edward, ‘On the translation of foreign scientific memoirs’, in Report of the Eleventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, London: John Murray, 1842, p. 329; Sabine, , ‘Report of the Committee for the Translation and Publication of Foreign Scientific Memoirs’, in Report of the Twelfth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, London: John Murray, 1843, p. 211.

45 See Brock and Meadows, 2nd edn, op. cit. (9), pp. 111–145.

46 William Francis, ‘Papers for Scientific Memoirs’, n.d., Taylor and Francis Archive, St Bride Library.

47 Joseph Plateau to Michael Faraday, 14 December 1849, in The Correspondence of Michael Faraday (ed. Frank A.J.L. James), London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 1996, pp. 91–93, 92.

48 Joseph Plateau to Michael Faraday, 8 July 1850, in Correspondence of Michael Faraday, op. cit. (47) pp. 163–165, 164.

49 Taylor, op. cit. (15), p. 83.

50 Brewster, David, Taylor, Richard and Phillips, Richard, ‘Scientific Memoirs, Part V’, Philosophical Magazine (1839) 14(91), p. 473.

51 Richard Taylor, ‘Preface to the fourth volume’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 4, op. cit. (11), pp. iii–iv, iii.

52 Richard Taylor, ‘Preface to the fifth volume’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 5, op. cit. (11), pp. iii–iv, iii.

53 Esselink, Bert, A Practical Guide to Localization, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2000.

54 Taylor, op. cit. (40).

55 Taylor, Richard, ‘Works published by Richard and John E. Taylor’ (1841), in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 3, op. cit. (11).

56 Knoblauch, H., ‘Investigations on radiant heat’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 5, op. cit. (11), pp. 188237.

57 Plateau, J., ‘On the phænomena presented by a free liquid mass withdrawn from the action of gravity’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 4, op. cit. (11), pp. 1643.

58 Menabrea's paper is renowned for its translation by Ada Lovelace and her extensive translator's notes. The translator's notes are twice as long as the paper itself, and were prepared in collaboration with Babbage. Lovelace is credited with bringing substantial clarity and applicability to Babbage's work through these notes and their correspondence. For more details see Fuegi, John and Francis, Jo, ‘Lovelace & Babbage and the creation of the 1843 “Notes” ’, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (2003) 25, pp. 1626.

59 Sefström, N.G., ‘Later observations, made partly in Sweden, partly in other countries, communicated in letters to the Royal Academy of Sciences’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 3, op. cit. (11), pp. 129144, 144.

60 Wartmann, Elie, ‘On daltonism [dyschrosis, or colour blindness]’, in Taylor, Scientific Memoirs, vol. 4, op. cit. (11), pp. 156187.

61 Wartmann, op. cit. (60), p. 158.

62 Brock and Meadows, 2nd edn, op. cit. (9), p. 105.

63 Richard Taylor, ‘Note on Disposal of Scientific Memoirs’, 20 July 1841, Taylor and Francis Archive, St Bride Library.

64 See Olohan, op. cit. (7).

65 First Report, op. cit. (24), p. 322.

66 Hunt, E.B., ‘Views and suggestions on the practice and theory of scientific publication’, American Journal of Science and Arts (1858) 26, pp. 25–30, 29.

67 Michael Faraday to Christian Friedrich Schönbein, 9 December 1852, in Correspondence of Michael Faraday, op. cit. (47), pp. 453–455, 454.

68 Taylor, op. cit. (52).

69 Philpotts, op. cit. (8).

70 Bourdieu, Pierre, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977, p. 72.

71 First Report, op. cit. (24).

72 Philpotts, op. cit. (8), p. 48.

73 Philpotts, op. cit. (8), p. 49.

74 Philpotts, op. cit. (8), p. 53.

75 Bourdieu, Pierre, The Rules of Art: The Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. Susan Emanuel, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1996, p. 216.

76 Lahire, Bernard, ‘From the habitus to an individual heritage of dispositions: towards a sociology at the level of the individual’, Poetics (2003) 31, pp. 329355.

77 Philpotts, op. cit. (8), p. 54.

78 Brock and Meadows, 2nd edn, op. cit. (9), pp. 243–256, devote a chapter to the history of the Philosophical Magazine.

79 Philpotts, op. cit. (8), p. 61.

80 ‘Proofsheet for a Prospectus for New Series of The Scientific Memoirs’, n.d., Taylor and Francis Archive, St Bride Library.

81 The Cambridge Mathematical Journal, contemporaneous with Scientific Memoirs, provides a useful point of comparison: Crilly, op. cit. (42). In the present day, the Greek version of Scientific American, founded in October 2003 but succumbing to financial pressures and collapsing in April 2008, might be considered as an example of a periodical of scientific translation which struggled to acquire capital in its field: ‘Μικρή Αυτοβιογραφία [Short autobiography]’, Scientific American – Greek Edition, n.d., available at www.sciam.gr.

I am grateful to the editor and anonymous reviewers at BJHS for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper and to the staff of St Bride Library for facilitating access to the Taylor and Francis archives.

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