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A DVD on the History of Translation

New technology applications are sprouting up everywhere, including in the field of translation and the teaching of translation. The DVD described below is unique in the field of translation. It was designed and developed by Jean Delisle in collaboration with Gilbert Lafond, who is a mathematician, statistician and computer scientist. This DVD is a database on the history of translation as well as a teaching tool.


The DVD includes thirty modules, and each module has a detailed “Help” menu. Here is a description of each of the modules:

Slide shows” — Eighteen slide shows or themes bringing together approximately 1000 illustrations on the history of translation. Each theme features, by means of illustrations accompanied by a commentary in French, English, German and Spanish, either a particular period in the history of translation (e.g. The Middle Ages in France), the life and works of a translator (e.g. St. Jerome; the monk Xuan Zang), an important aspect of the history of translation (e.g. The Reformation), a related field (e.g. translators and printing), or a particular profession (e.g. interpreters in history).

Outline, Projects, PowerPoint presentations” — A detailed course outline on the history of translation and suggestions of assignments. This module is bilingual (French and English). Also: PowerPoint presentations on the content of the course outlined.

Theses, Books and Texts” — Theses, complete books, historical studies or documents on the various aspects of the history of translation. Also Introductions or Prefaces of works and reviews. Most of the texts are in French and English but some are in German and others in Spanish and Italian. They are in .PDF files. Acrobat Reader comes loaded on the DVD.

Translations” — Translated texts like The First Book of the Courtier, by Baldassare Castiglione translated by Sir Thomas Hoby, Ars Poetica, by Horace, translated by Leon Golden, Le Paradis perdu, by Milton, translated by Chateaubriand, Le Roi Lear, by Shakespeare, translated by Jean-François Ducis, or Les Géorgiques by Vergil, translated by l’abbé Jacques Delille. The selected translations show the evolution of translation in the past.

Portraits” — Mini-biographies of varying length. E.g. : Jacques Amyot; Richard F. Burton; Gérard de Crémone; Hans Magnus Enzenberger; Albertine Necker de Saussure; Clémence Royer.

Quotations” — Thousands of quotations relating to translation, interpretation or their history.

Biographical Notes” — Biographical entries of translators or interpreters from different countries and eras. A kind of translator’s dictionary.

Swiss Translators” — This module contains over 1200 works translated by Swiss translators, as well as books about translation in Switzerland and Swiss translators. This bibliography was compiled by Hannelore Lee-Jahnke, professor at University of Geneva, with the collaboration of a librarian, Sadri Saieb.

Translators Directories” — This module includes directories of names of translators. Almost 8,000 names listed.

Concepts” — This module includes about 150 terms proper to the history of translation (e.g. “belles infidèles”, “cibliste”(target-oriented translator / translation), “épreuve de l’étranger”).

Comparative Table” — A table displays in a synthetic format the two major historic translation approaches: “cibliste” (target-oriented translator /translation) and “sourcier” (source-oriented translator /translation). Nearly all of the terms found on this table are defined in the “Concepts” module.

Glossary” — Over 360 terms from subject areas related to the history of translation (e.g. general history, historiography, languages, publishing and manuscripts, religious confessions, epigraphy, writing systems, printing).

Bibliography” — This bibliography currently holds over 4000 titles, arranged by category; almost all of them are French or English titles dealing with the history of translation. In the “Internet Sites” category, hyperlinks lead directly to indexed sites.

Bibliography (Canada)” — This directory is comprised of more than 2650 references, all of which concern the history of translation in Canada from 1534 to 1984. Each reference includes various codes forming a database that can be searched according to various fields. The full references are found in our book, La Traduction au Canada / Translation in Canada, 1534-1984, Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 1987.

Anecdotes” — Short texts of secondary importance, but not devoid of interest, relating to the history of translation (e.g. "The whisky was invisible", "Philoglossic Plants", “Traduire en prison”).

Tests” — This bilingual module comprises 25 tests corresponding to each of the slide show (e.g. Antiquity, Toledo School, etc.). On average, each test consists of 10 to 20 questions. Together, the tests include a total of 240 separate questions. After answering all of the questions (or 80%), you can click on a button to see your test results. Another button allows you to display the correct answers AND your given answers. The correct answer is then displayed in red. You can also correct your answers.

Citation Guideline” — This bilingual module (French and English) gives examples on how to cite a document on the DVD.

Design team, Contributors and E-mail” — This module includes biographical notes on the designers of Didak and lists the names of many contributors with their photos. It is also possible to send an e-mail to the designers.

You can print the text of almost all of these modules, in full or in part, in the font of your choice.


This program, called Didak, runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, Me, Pro, XP, NT, Vista, Windows 7, 8 &10. It does not work in network nor on Macintosh computers.