State of Translation

Turkey in Interlingual Relations
Einar Wigen
Mistranslation and understanding constructs international relationships


International politics often requires two or more languages. The resulting interlingual relations mean translation, either by interpreters who are quite literally in the middle of conversations, or by bilingual statesmen who negotiate internationally in one language and then legitimize domestically in another. Since no two languages are the same, what can be argued in one language may be impossible in another. Political concepts can thus be significantly reformulated in the translation process. State of Translation examines this phenomenon using the case of how 19th-century Ottoman and later Turkish statesmen struggled to reconcile their arguments in external languages (French, then English) with those in their internal language (Ottoman, later Turkish), and in the process further entangled them. Einar Wigen shows how this process structured social relations between the Ottoman state and its interlocutors, both domestically and internationally, and shaped the dynamics of Turkish relations with Europe.

“A stunning example of what we can learn about international relations and political change when we attend carefully to language and translation. The chapters on civilization, empire, citizenship, and democracy are gems. Wigen has put the study of ‘interlingual relations’ on the map.”
—Frederic Charles Schaffer, University of Massachusetts Amherst
“This book sets the agenda for studying what happens to key political concepts when they enter unfamiliar semantic terrain. International relations have always been among languages and not just states. Anybody interested in interlingual relations should read this book.”
—Jörg Friedrichs, University of Oxford
State of Translation advances an innovative argument about the importance of translation across linguistic divides in international relations. This pioneering monograph will trigger other studies exploring politics across other linguistic divides.”
—Bahar Rumelili, Koç University

Einar Wigen is Associate Professor of Turkish studies in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo.

Praise / Awards

  • "The book stands as an impressive achievement and an inspiration both for Ottoman-Turkish and conceptual historians."
    - Contributions to the History of Concepts
  • Winner, 2019 Yale Ferguson Award

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 294 pages.
  • 1 chart.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12413-8

  • EPUB: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $64.95 U.S.

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $64.95 U.S.

  • Kindle

Add to Cart

Choosing any of the above format options will take you to the appropriate e-retailer to complete your purchase. Pricing may vary by individual e-retailer. Please see e-retailer site for purchasing information.

For more information about our Digital Products, including reading systems and accessible formats, visit our Digital Products page.

Related Products

Add to Cart
  • $80.00 U.S.



  • Turkey; Translation; International; Ottoman; Europe; Political concepts; Bilingual; Social relations; Interpret