Lost in translation? The odyssey of ‘digital humanities’ in French

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Claire Clivaz


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.

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CLIVAZ, Claire. Lost in translation? The odyssey of ‘digital humanities’ in French. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Digitalia, [S.l.], n. 1, p. 26-41, july 2017. ISSN 2559-6721. Available at: <http://digihubb.centre.ubbcluj.ro/journal/index.php/digitalia/article/view/4>. Date accessed: 22 jan. 2019. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.24193/subbdigitalia.2017.1.02.