Paul Cohen, “Translation on the Seas: Towards a Maritime History of Language in the First Age of Globalization"

When and Where

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St George St Toronto ON M5S 3G3


Please join us next Wednesday, November 14,  for this year’s second meeting of the Toronto Eighteenth-Century Group. Paul Cohen, Associate Professor of French History at the U of T, will present his paper, “Translation on the Seas: Towards a Maritime History of Language in the First Age of Globalization.”

The talk draws on a current book project on the linguistic cultures of the French maritime world. I attempt to reconstruct the degree of linguistic diversity within ships’ crews and the importance of linguistic intermediaries in ensuring the smooth function of shipboard labour. I explore the ways in which early modern ports and states regulated linguistic mediation in harbours (with foreign ships clearing cargo through customs and crews getting into trouble ashore). Along the way, I discuss the place of language in the slave trade and Middle Passage, and the ways in which regional and global maritime lingua francas took shape, waxed and waned over the long eighteenth century.

Our venue is the English Department Seminar Room (Room 616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street). All events begin at 7:30 pm.

Please join us 15 minutes early for chat.

For generous sponsorship of this year’s programme, I am grateful to Gale, publisher of ECCO, the Burney Newspapers, and other primary source collections. Salvy Trojman, Gale’s Canadian manager, will be with us next Wednesday, and will be happy to help anyone with individual search questions after the talk.


170 St George St Toronto ON M5S 3G3