Paradise Lost in Translation

  • Rosanna Masiola
  • Renato Tomei


Descriptions as translations are related to the problems of coming to terms with the uncharted territories in explorations and discovery, accounting for an increased awareness in matching true accounts and faithful recordings. Columbus and other Catholic navigators describe the Caribbean in messianic overtones, echoing the flora in the garden of Eden, as portrayed in religious iconography. Conversely, in line with the doctrine of providence and benefits to the English nation—Richard Hakluyt’s “Western Planting”—British accounts aimed at colonial exploitation suggest practical applications, while language issues emerge from the start as consequent to the inadequacy to describe what is not known (preterition), and, therefore, what is “untranslatable” for lack of words. In Europe, conversely, linguistic translation of maritime explorations and treatises on exotic flora furthered the diffusion of scientific knowledge. As new words were adapted from borrowings, calques, and semantic shifts, a new landscape was also being created and domesticated.


Description Translation Landscape Caribbean Phytogeography 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosanna Masiola
    • 1
  • Renato Tomei
    • 1
  1. 1.University for ForeignersPerugiaItaly

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