In the course of 2013, this blog drew attention several times to the fact that it was the centennial of the publication of Le développement du langage observé chez un enfant bilingue (Language Development As Observed In a Bilingual child) by the French linguist Jules Ronjat. The book sheds light on the fundamental human ability or abilities that make the mental operations of translating possible.
"What it is – to paraphrase a well-known linguist – that enables little children to translate so much with so little example or instruction. In 2013 it was just a century since Ronjat first noticed it and published his observations of his bilingual son."Ronjat's observations were a classic example of serendipity. He had set out to study not the development of translating but of phonetics and phonology. His greatest merit was to recognise the interest of his observations and to preserve them. One hundred years later, still only a handful of researchers and theorists recognise their significance. I wish I'd met him.
Meanwhile there used to be a snag about recommending Ronjat's book. It had long been out of print and could only be found in a few libraries. My attempt to find a publisher who would reprint it failed. I was, however, barking up the wrong tree, because now comes great news from a reader of this blog named (or pseudonymed) Aaro. It's that there's an electronic facsimile already available on a website of the University of Toronto. From there it can be downloaded free in a variety of formats. The site is called The Internet Archive. You can get directly to the page announcing the Ronjat by clicking here. The scanning was sponsored by the University of Ottawa.
Sincerest thanks to Aaro and to all involved
There are other papers on the topic at academia.edu. Click here.