At a Glance


Is the Declaration of Independence the same document when in a foreign language?

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University

Interpreting the Declaration of Independence by Translation

Logo, Interpreting the Declaration of Independence by Translation

The complex practice of translating historical documents is explored in this site that provides 11 historical translations of the American Declaration of Independence into Behasa Melayu (Malay language), French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and Spanish, along with 16 essays (2,500 to 10,000 words) that discuss these and other translations. The site reproduces a Journal of American History roundtable, published in March 1999, and includes introductory essays that discuss the endeavor of placing American history into a transnational perspective. Of great interest are five "'naive' retranslations back into English so that those who don't know the different languages can get a sense of how some key concepts and words have been rendered." This site is of great value not only for those interested in the new field of translation studies, but for all historians and students concerned with the importance of linguistic issues for historical interpretation.