Instruction and Information in the Works of John Trevisa
Marginalia, Vol. 9 (2009)
In John Trevisa’s Dialogue, the character of the Lord explains that the use of Latin as a universal academic language is one part of the ‘doubel remedy’ for the problem of diverse languages that prevents the communication of knowledge between ‘men of ser [far] contrayes and londes’. The other remedy is translation, which overcomes the exclusivity of Latin. Trevisa, who was educated at Oxford during the time leading up to the Wycliffite controversies, produced several translations of academic Latin texts into English, as well as two original pieces about motivations for translation. His work comprises a range of writings that reflect the Latin academic style of the period and participate in the academic debates of the fourteenth century. However, Trevisa’s translation of the works into English also presents them to a vernacular audience, instructing vernacular readers how to conduct arguments and equipping them with the information to participate in discussions previously unavailable to them.