Lost in Translation: The British Section in «Mercator’s Cosmography» and Translators of The Ambassadorial Office

Natalia A. Boldyreva – researcher of the Moscow Kremlin Museums, PhD student of the Medieval History Department, Historical Faculty, Lomonosov Moscow state University. 103132, Moscow, Kremlin. E-mail: boldy33@yandex.ru.
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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2018-6-63-35-61 (Read the article in PDF)

The article presents an analysis of certain peculiarities of the Russian translation of chapters about the British Iles from the Mercator-Hondius Atlas (published in 1613). These sections were based on the historical and topographical treatise «Britannia» written by the English antiquarian William Camden (1551–1623). The translation was accomplished in Moscow, in the Ambassadorial Office, by Bogdan Lykov and Ivan Dorn, in 1637, and became known as «Mercator’s Cosmography». The comparison of the Latin text and the Russian translation reveals numerous distinctions between them, which shows difficulties the translators faced with. The variety of their problems turned to be rather broad. Also the insufficient knowledge of the Latin language, particularly of its complicated syntactic constructions, compounded their work. Lykov and Dorn had to rethink many things to bring new terms and onyms into another national context that differed from one in what they were created. Proper names, topographic objects, historical facts, terms, the structure of society, government institutions caused perplexities. As an example of this uneasy work, the evolution of the interpretation of the proper name – the name of the text's author William Camden – is examined here. A detailed analysis reveals the mechanisms of adaptation of the new onym and its incorporation to the Russian language. The situation with the interpretation of extracts about social hierarchy, political, administrative and juridical institutes of England looks more complicated. One of such examples is the problem of the interpretation of the most important term for the English history – term «parliament». The difference of the perception of the parliament's functions by the English antiquarian Camden and by the Ambassadorial Office translators is clearly revealed. Lykov and Dorn found themselves in a difficult position: they had to construe this term relying on their own knowledge about English realias which in fact were very limited.

Key words: the Ambassadorial Office, translation, cosmography, interpretation, Mercator's Atlas, William Camden, Britannia, anthroponym, parliament.

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