Modern scientific language and translation

by Silvana Borutti

The birth of modern science is a fundamentally linguistic matter. Modern scientific language was established through its separation from natural language. From the time of the Middle Ages scholars sought to develop a language that was neither ambiguous nor esoteric, in contrast with the language used by alchemists, and designated with graphic symbols that were more appropriate to scientific subjects. A deciding role in this process was played in the XVIII century by Antoine de Lavoisier, the father of modern chemistry. However, once modern scientific language had been established, the problem arose concerning its “translation”, or the interchangeability between different theories within the same scientific sphere based on a common language.