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Learning Languages in Early Modern England$
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John Gallagher

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198837909

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198837909.001.0001

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‘A Conversable Knowledge’

‘A Conversable Knowledge’

Language-Learning and Educational Travel

(p.157) 4 ‘A Conversable Knowledge’
Learning Languages in Early Modern England

John Gallagher

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers language-learning in educational travel. Early modern English elites placed great emphasis on the educational value of travel, and saw the study and practice of vernacular languages—most commonly French and Italian—as central to educational travel. This chapter uses a rich set of manuscript source materials (including travellers’ polyglot diaries, letters, and notebooks) to show how travellers learnt foreign languages while abroad. It aims to put the education back into educational travel, showing the importance of everyday pedagogies to early modern travel practices. It argues that linguistic concerns helped to shape everything from the routes that travellers followed to the company they kept and the notes they wrote. While the focus of this chapter is on the unusually well-documented travels of mostly male and mostly wealthy English-speakers, it offers reflections on language-learning practices that are relevant to other kinds of traveller, from merchants to servants.

Keywords:   educational travel, grand tour, language-learning, encounter, linguistic encounter, early modern

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