ARTICLE: Scientific naturalists and their language games

A 2014 article in History of Science looks at the importance of language and translation for Darwin, Huxley, and John Tyndall:

Scientific naturalists and their language games

Bernard Lightman

Abstract For nineteenth century British scientific naturalists like Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, and John Tyndall, translation, and the issues of language that it raised, were crucial. Dealing with these issues became a major part of their strategy to reform British science, and it involved opening up the scientific community to French and German research. Early in their careers, both Huxley and Tyndall invested time translating science books from the continent into English. Later, as they themselves wrote books that were in demand across the channel, they, and Darwin, put a great deal of time and energy into locating the best possible translators for their writings. Translation was not only a key to reforming British science; it was also essential as a means of circulating the evolutionary worldview of scientific naturalism globally. But Darwin, Huxley, and Tyndall were not fully prepared for the challenges they would encounter in authorizing translations of their own works.

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