Language For Trade

An Early Modern Dutch How-To Guide to Russian Trade




Global History, trade, Early Modern, Translation, Russia, The Netherlands


This article uses a case-study of a Dutch translation of a Russianbook of tariffs and trading laws from 1724 to examine how language shaped and was shaped by global trade. In the early modern period shifting trade routes brought new commodities with new names, imperial expansion reified imperial terms as the norm for imperial-control/ed products, and both joined old terms for the technica/ities and legalities of international trade. All those terms had to be arranged within texts, tables, and books, and rearranged in translations vital to international trade. Such mercantile texts aimed not for definitive and lasting translations, but rather translations that worked in the immediate and fleeting context trade required. Comparing these two books shows how the semantics of commerce were shaped not only by linguistics but the expediencies of trade. Examining this unexpected and as-yet unused textual pairing demonstrates the interconnected nature of linguistic, mercantile, and material changes in the early modern global world.


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How to Cite

Griffin, C. (2024). Language For Trade: An Early Modern Dutch How-To Guide to Russian Trade. Chronotopos – A Journal of Translation History, 4(2), 65–82.