ABSTRACT Walter Scott made wide use of his knowledge of historical linguistics—of the history of English and Scots—in writing dialogues in Ivanhoe and other novels. This causes some difficulties for translators; the opening conversation between Gurth and Wamba in Ivanhoe is a curious case. Scott’s use of period language in his medieval novels, and of a type of Scots interspersed with words that by his time were archaic in English, in the case of Rob Roy’s speech, should ideally be rendered in translation, since both help to convey the author’s historical point of view (as does his use of linguistic variety). This, however, cannot always be achieved with a result that performs the function intended in the original. Some examples are offered from French and Spanish as tokens of difficulties that arise in most languages. It is suggested that introductions and notes in scholarly editions of translations should include more discussion of these aspects, so that Scott’s skill in writing dialogues, where translation can do him less justice, is brought to his readers’ attention.
KEYWORDS:Walter Scott, Historical linguistics, Translation, Spanish, French, Etymologies