Scientific translations: The President's Page


  • Helmut E. Landsberg


One of the unfortunate victims of nineteenth century nationalism was the common language for scientific publication. Up to that time Latin had continued as a lingua franca among scientists. But the competition of local academies, sponsored by princes jealous of each other, led eventually to the use of the vernacular for scientific communication.

Yet in the interval up to World War I it developed that most scientific work was concentrated in a few major nations and publications were over 90 per cent in English, French, and German. The universal language of diplomacy was French and it was adopted by some of the important scientific bodies in countries with other, particularly, Slavic tongues as the medium for their scientific communications. Most notable among these was the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences in what was then St. Petersburg.