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Publication . Article . 2017

Lost in translation? The odyssey of “digital humanities” in French

Claire Clivaz;
Open Access
English
Abstract
The article is available in open access on the publisher website.; International audience; By examining the case of the French translation of the expression "digital humanities" (DH), this article argues that cultural diversity and multilingualism could be fostered in digital culture. If other languages have been invited and forced to welcome this English phrase, its translations have to be studied since they could potentially have strong epistemological backwash-effects on it. Through an historical etymological inquiry, it can be demonstrated that the use of the outmoded French word humanités is the most significant element in the two French expressions humanités numériques or humanités digitales. This single word opens up a specific space for humanist approaches within the open-ended digital approaches. On this base, the encounter between Humanities and hard sciences can be reconsidered, as it happens already in two examples of new DH masters in French-speaking countries. To my late mother, who read so many books aloud to me, building my cultural memory of the forgotten meanings of words By examining the case of the French translation of the expression "digital humanities" (DH), this article argues that cultural diversity and multilingualism could be fostered in digital culture. At first glance, the international success of this expression seems to contradict this statement: isn't it a clear example of English language domination over other Western and non-Western languages? Used in written form for Lost in translation? The odyssey of 'digital humanities' in French 27 Studia UBB Digitalia Volume 62, No. 1, 2017 the first time in 2004 (Kirschenbaum 56), tirelessly discussed in DH conferences and works, "DH" has quickly been used in professorship titles, in undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, or to qualify centers, laboratories, and research projects (Clivaz "Common Era" 41). If other languages have been invited and forced to welcome this expression, its translations have to be studied since they could potentially have strong epistemological backwash-effects on it. French is an example worth examining: it can be demonstrated that the use of the outmoded French word humanités is the most significant element in the two French expressions humanités numériques or humanités digitales. This single word opens up a specific space for humanist approaches within the open-ended digital approaches. The introduction below aims to present the specific impact of a study of the phrase "digital humanities" and its translations within the general problematic of the phrase's definition. The second part of this article summarizes the main progressions and arguments in the discussions surrounding humanités numériques (humanities computing) and humanités digitales (digital humanities) in the French-speaking sphere. The third section examines the historical epistemology of humanités while the final section considers the resulting confrontation between the humanities and the 'hard' sciences: this underlines their potential synergy and the proper role of the humanities.
Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Multilingualism Art media_common.quotation_subject media_common Digital humanities Phrase French language.human_language language Humanism Cultural diversity Linguistics Literature business.industry business Etymology Hard and soft science

Subjects

Epistemology, Master in DH, Etymology, Humanities, Digital Humanities, French language, Multilinguisme, Epistemology in didactics, [SHS]Humanities and Social Sciences, [SHS.HISPHILSO]Humanities and Social Sciences/History, Philosophy and Sociology of Sciences, [SHS.PHIL]Humanities and Social Sciences/Philosophy, [SHS.INFO]Humanities and Social Sciences/Library and information sciences, Digital Humanities, Epistemology, Humanities, Etymology, French translation, History and Philosophy of Science, Sociology and Political Science, Visual Arts and Performing Arts, History

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