The article deals with the translation of the Swiss Historical Encyclopaedia and is mainly based on the experiences of three collaborators.
The Encyclopaedia is being published simultaneously in the three official languages German, French and Italian as well as in an abbreviated version in Rhaeto-Romance. The multilingual work concept implies considerable administrative planning and reveals terminological obstacles, as the different regions of Switzerland have been exposed to variable historical influences.
The article describes detailed and concrete problems of translating texts on historical topics the difficulties of which are generally underestimated. The translators need not only a solid linguistic knowledge, but also of Swiss and European history from the prehistoric period to present times. Comparing the different versions of the same article is an excellent quality control of the text's linguistic and scientific level.
The fact that the Encyclopaedia is written in the national languages is to strengthen the Swiss consciousness and identity in times where English seems to become the standard communication language. The translators work with traditional methods (including Internet!), but without referring to translation programmes.