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Foreign literature and translations in earth science

December 31, 1971

More than 50 percent of the total abstracted geologic literature is in Russian, followed by English at about 30 percent, and French, German, and Japanese from about 8 to 2 percent. Communist Chinese publications ceased as a result of the Cultural Revolution and have not resumed. Less than 2 percent of American earth scientists read and use Russian literature in the original to any significant extent. About 30 percent know some French, German, and Spanish, but only a much smaller proportion uses these languages in practice. The most important sources of knowledge about foreign work are translation journals, almost exclusively from Russian, and foreign scientists who write in American and international journals. Less than 0.5 percent of Russian earth science books are translated or known in the United States. Scientific provincialism is strong and increasing in the United States, owing to or demonstrated by the publications explosion and squeeze on libraries and scientists, weakening or abandonment of language requirements in universities, and cessation of all broad earth science abstracting services in English. Suggestions for improving communication of foreign literature include earlier exposure to languages in schools and stress on critical use rather than perfunctory examinations. A "critical mass" of linguistically competent and active scientists is necessary to find the important, not merely important-sounding, titles in the literature morass and introduce them into widely read earth science media.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1972
Title Foreign literature and translations in earth science
Authors Frank T. Manheim
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70207484
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

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