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Sortir de Babel : une République des Langues en quête d’une « langue universelle » à la Renaissance et à l’Age classique ?

Abstract : During the Early Modern Age, Europe was the field of a protean quest for the universal language (researches on Adam’s language were carried out, encyclopedias of all the idioms spoken on earth were written, languages were created ex nihilo…). In order to understand the social conditions presiding over the production of that linguistic knowledge, the aim of this study is to retrace the history of the universal language planners rather than that of the language itself. It means to elaborate a social and cultural history of these intellectual practices on a European scale, in a multidisciplinary perspective. The social actors involved in that quest for the universal language were members of specific networks and connected with institutions which actively participated in the transformation of the modern world (the Royal Society, the Jesuits…). They were often prominent figures of the Republic of Letters within which, through their linguistic works and the numerous correspondences these gave rise to, they formed a specific province – the “Republic of Languages”. What was at stake was nothing less than choosing, not the language defining correct usage – that of the grammarians – but the language of sciences and truth, that of the Republic of Letters itself. How did Europeans scholars give life to their linguistic utopias through that virtual social space? Discussed within the framework of these transnational European networks, thelinguistic proects appeared like literary and social technologies, only mastered by a small group of individuals. Therefore these languages intended to be “for all” paradoxically turned out to be languages for “the happy few”, languages of distinction
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Fabien Dimitri Simon. Sortir de Babel : une République des Langues en quête d’une « langue universelle » à la Renaissance et à l’Age classique ?. Histoire. Université Rennes 2, 2011. Français. ⟨NNT : 2011REN20055⟩. ⟨tel-00676892⟩

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