Translating Science: The Transmission of Western Chemistry into Late Imperial China, 1840-1900
David Wright
Brill 2000, ISBN 90 04 11776 8

On survival of the fittest terms:
"The state of a translated terminology is sensitive to the cultural milieu and the circumstances in which translations are conducted. Pioneer translators, initially worked in mutual isolation from their own rival sets of terms which then competed for survival. Centralised states may from time to time attempt to tame the terminological wilderness - partly for practical reasoins, to control the nature and types of designations used - but also as a demonstrationof their national and linguistic sovereignty. Eventually, something approaching the peaceful, bland, compromised ecosystem of a garden is established, in which only the "cultivated" terms, which no longer compete aggressively for semantic domains, are allowed to exist." pp. 327-238.


On translation as authority:
"A similar... problem had faced the Jesuits in their transmission of astronomy when Western astronomy was undergoing a paradigm shift from the Ptolemaic to the Copernican system: should it be admitted that science was not a doctrine to be revealed, but a system of words and ideas which were constantly developing in the light of experience ?" p. 277


"The growth of the modern science textbook in China was a translation not only of chemical terminology, but also of a distinctive form of writing about the natural world, which usually gave the impression of science as fixed, uncontroversial and certain body of knowledge, deprived of historical or social context....[c]onscious that there was more to Western culture than steamships, locomotives and guns, reformers such as Kang Youwei determined to set up their own translation bureaus which would open up the more interesting, but more controversial, realms of philosophy, economics and politics." pp. 290-292.

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