The Journal des Sçavans and the Philosophical Transactions were the first two academic periodicals, and in their early years each frequently translated items taken from the other. In one such case, an item in the Journal des Sçavans which was a translation of a piece from the Philosophical Transactions, provoked a critical letter subsequently published in the French periodical. This letter produced a virulent response from the Philosophical Transactions’ editor, Henry Oldenburg. Study of a number of linguistic features, including process types and thematic structure shows that while there are a number of small differences between the source text and its translation, none of them are particularly significant. It is likely that Oldenburg’s riposte fits into a pattern of defending members of the Royal Society against foreign criticism.

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