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The Coming of the Language of Utility to the Luso-Brazilian World: A Corpus Linguistics Analysis of the Portuguese Translations of Jeremy Bentham’s Works (1821-1838)

Guidi Marco Enrico Luigi, University of Pisa
Lupetti Monica, Università di Pisa

Between 1821 and 1838 various works composed by Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century, and first published in French by Etienne Dumont in the early decades of the 19th century, were translated into Portuguese. Two of them, Tactica das assembleas legislativas (1821), and Traducção das obras políticas do sábio jurisconsulto Jeremias Bentham (1822), corresponding respectively to Tactique des assemblées législatives (1816), and to Théorie des peines et des récompenses (1811, also including a version of Bentham’s “Manual of Political Economy”), were published in Lisbon during the liberal revolution of 1820-23, as part of a broader editorial project ordered by the Constitutional Parliament, which unfortunately was not entirely accomplished. One year later, following the foundation of the Brazilian Empire after the declaration of independence from Portugal, two further translations were published in Rio de Janeiro: an Extracto da Táctica das Assembleas Legislativas and Sophismas anarchicos, a translation of Vol. II of Tactique. In 1832 a further edition of Tactica was published in Olinda, in the province of Pernambuco. Finally, a Tratado dos sofismas politicos (1838) was published in Santa Catarina (today Florianópolis), capital of the homonymous Brazilian province, by Antonio José Falcão da Frota, a member of the local Legislative Assembly. Translations of other fragments of Bentham’s works were published in various Portuguese and Brazilian journals. All these texts share a common intention to contribute to political discussion in the emerging public sphere and to the organisation of a constitutional government. The paper examines this set of texts by adopting a corpus linguistics approach, in the framework of the LexEcon project funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research: it aims to understand how the utilitarian lexicon and phraseology was translated and adapted into Portuguese. The results thus obtained are then compared with those of the extensive research conducted by Telmo Verdelho (1981) about the lexicon of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, as well as with available corpora of European and Brazilian Portuguese (Reference Corpus of Contemporary Portuguese; Corpus do Português; Tycho Brahe Platform; PHPB – Para uma História do Português do Brasil) and with contemporary lexicography, in order to assess the impact of Bentham's translations on political and economic discourse in the Portuguese-speaking world, in the troubled stage of transition from absolutism to liberal democracy. References Faria, L. L. de. 2004. Jeremy Bentham and Portugal: The Untold Story. In: Richard Trewinnart, Maria Laura Bettencourt Pires (eds). Landscapes of Memory / Paisagens da Memória, 24th Conference of the Portuguese Association of Anglo-American Studies, Lisbon, 2003, Lisboa: Universidade Católica Portuguesa, pp. 121–134. Verdelho, Telmo dos Santos. 1981. As palavras e as ideias na Revolução Liberal de 1820. Coimbra: INIC

Area: Eshet Conference

Keywords: Jeremy Bentham; Portugal; Brazil; Translation

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