Throughout recorded history, the exchange of scientific knowledge across cultures has been crucial in shaping human civilization. For instance, without the Greek and Roman works that were translated into Arabic and later reintroduced into Europe, the Renaissance as we know it would not have occured. Yet, until now, the enormous importance of translation to the history of science has remained largely unexamined. In this innovative work, Scott L. Montgomery explores the diverse roles that translation has played in the development of Western science from antiquity to the present. Beginning with an in-depth consideration of astronomy, he presents case histories of science in translation from a variety of disciplines and cultural contexts, both Western and non-Western (such as the origin and evolution of modern science in Japan). Montgomery highlights key historical and philosophical issues, including the instability of the scientific text, what is lost and gained in the process of translating science, and the impossibility of a truly universal technical language.
Scott L. Montgomery is a consulting geologist, writer, and independent scholar who worked as a part-time technical translator for more than a decade.