Translation, the French language and the United Irishmen (1792-1804)
Kleinman, Sylvie (2005) Translation, the French language and the United Irishmen (1792-1804). PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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This thesis examines how language barriers were overcome in contacts between the United Irishmen and France from 1793 to 1804, drawing on relevant theoretical models on bilingualism, oral and written translation and sociolinguistics. The impressive lobbying of key Irish envoys, most notably Theobald Wolfe Tone, led to the Bantry expedition (1796) and Humbert’s short-lived invasion of Mayo (1798), yet linguistic and communicative dimensions of this international chapter of Insh history have been overlooked. Key episodes, when translation and interpretation facilitated communication between English and French speakers, are identified. The translator’s complex role as linguistic and cultural mediator is also demonstrated within the historic context of the times. Driven by circumstances to become ad hoc translators, the Insh in France fulfilled a purposeful activity in tense political and military settings. Because they also acted as advocates for their cause, emphasis is placed on the human agency at-the heart of mtercultural exchanges.
Tone’s awareness of bilingualism as a consequence of exile is discussed through rich insights from his diary, many of which echo current studies on culture shock, adult second-language acquisition and natural translation. His collaboration with the Irish translators Nicholas Madgett, head of the French government’s Bureau de traduction, and John Sullivan, is also discussed Madgett and Sullivan translated propaganda throughout the most turbulent episode of the French Revolution, and their narrative sheds new light on the history of the profession. The thesis concludes with the final overtures made by Robert and Thomas Addis Emmet to Napoleon.
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