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Wales and the French Revolution Series

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Marion Löffler and Heather Williams, Translating the French Revolution in Wales

The French Revolution and its British reverberations sparked an immense increase in translation activity in Wales, as experienced and new authors attempted to communicate a range of new concepts, philosophies and ideas to the ninety per cent of their compatriots who knew no English. Radicals and conservatives alike competed in translating popular poetry, such as hymns and satirical verse, as well as pamphlets, sermons and educational dialogues into the Welsh language.

While the focus of radicals lay on educating their brethren in a bid for a Welsh Enlightenment, Welsh loyalists attempted to protect their flock from the threat of a foreign ideology by publishing patriotic material. In order to do so, both groups were forced to create a new Welsh vocabulary that encompassed terms of philosophy, science (or ‘natural philosophy’), religion and politics. The most important terms of the period thus coined, some of which are still in use, were translations of ‘democracy’ and ‘revolution’.

This volume will present a selection of key passages demonstrating the translation techniques and strategies adopted by individuals and groups of authors. These ranged from literal translation to free adaptation, but tended to follow a domesticating approach which would enable the target audience to digest the new concepts more easily.