Managing Latin: Support and intratextual translation as mediation strategies in the history of English

Arja Nurmi, Janne Skaffari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Our study maps the practices of managing Latin in English texts from over a thousand years. Mediation is a communicative activity which involves explaining the content of a conversation or text to another person. In contexts of multilingual writing, this is typically self-mediation, which a writer may perform by complementing code-switches with intratextual translations in the text. The data for the study are drawn from corpora of English historical texts, dictionaries and manuscripts, and mediation is analyzed in terms of support, intratextual translation and flagging. The findings show that while cognitive support helps a reader understand all of the content of the text, intratextual translation may also have relational functions, where the reader is expected to understand both languages used, as when code-switching and translation are a vehicle for humor. Intratextual translation can also be used to add credibility to the writer's argument or to link it to a broader discussion on the topic. Mediation is also facilitated by flagging code-switching and intratextual translation metalinguistically or visually. Support is needed for Latin as a language which has always been part of relatively few English-speakers' repertoire, but these strategies are expected to apply to other language pairs as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-513
JournalText and Talk
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • English
  • Latin
  • mediation
  • multilingualism
  • translation
  • written communication

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


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