Translation History of Spain

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Spain is a multicultural and multilingual country and the language known as “Spanish” in the general meaning is Castilian which is one of several Romance languages. The other languages spoken throughout Spain is Catalan in the North-east, Galician in the North-west, Basque, which is a non-Romace language spoken around te western French-Spainish border and historical languages of Aragon, Leon and Asturias. In the history, all these languages were spoken alongside the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin and in the middle of this language paradise, translation considerably developed.

From 711 to the 13th century, major parts of Spain were under the Islamic rule. In the spanish history, the term “Reconquista” is an attribution to the years from 718 to 1492, during which the Christians struggled to conquer the islamic lands of Spain and finally completed their mission with the conquest of Granada in 1492. During the Reconquista years, there was a huge translation activity in Spain, sustained between many different languages, mostly thanks to Jews, Conversos who are the Jews converted into Christianity and Mozarabs who are the arabicised Christians living under the Islamic rule. Islamic Spain had the most developed scientific knowledge of the time because many greek texts translated into arabic in the ninth century were gathered in Spain. These greek texts were translated into Latin through Arabic and therefore Arabic took over the circulation of the scientific texts throughout Europe in the mediavel times.

For example Bishop Michael of Tarazona, in the North of Spain sponsored the translation of arabic protoscientific texts into Latin.

Peter the Venerable, the french abbot of Cluny organized the first Latin translation of Quran with explanatory documents in 1142. The Quran translation was carried out by a team of translators including such names as Robert of Kent, Herman of Dalmatia, the Mozarab Peter of Toledo.

While the translations from Arabic were transferred from Spain to the northern countries, The christian epics written in Latin or French were coming to Spain in return. Major Latin or French romances were translated after the second half of the 13th century. Translators omitted the anti-chivalrous elements and minimized the adultery in these romances not to face the opposition of the Spanish church.

Toledo school, one of the biggest translation initiative of Spanish history left its mark on 12th and 13th century during the Reconquista years. The translations were mainly carried out around Toledo, but also in the Barcelona and Tarazona regions. Translators of Toledo school mainly focused on the philosophical and scientific achievements of the Greek andA rab world and did translations in the fields of mathemtics, astronomy, medicine and astrology. The ideas of Aristotle was rediscovered with the translations of the work by Averroes and Avicenna.Europeans became familiar with the Arabic system of numeration, algebra, the Ptolemaic world system and the works of Hippocrates and Galen. Thanks to the circulation of the knowledge, mediavel Europe experienced the “twelfth centrury Renaissance”. Arabic works were actively translated into Latin within the scope of Toledo school. In the 12th century the translation enterprise was undertaked by the Church but in the 13th century Patrons from the spanish court take over the translation activity and the works were translated from Arabic into the vernaculars of Spain rather than Latin.

One of the wellknown patrons of this period is Alfonso. From 1250 on, Arabic scientific text were translated into the Castilian vernacular under the sponsorship of Alphonso X, the king of Castile, Galicia and Leon. Alphonso X contributed the development of Castilian language and translation as a nation building policy. The maintranslators patronized by Alphonso X were Jewish. Thanks to Alfonso X, the status of Jewish translators increased substantially although they often went on working...
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