PDF | This is a course on the main paradigms of Western translation theories since the s. It adopts a view of translation that includes interpreting (spoken . Pym, Anthony. Exploring Translation Theories. London and New York: Routledge , (pp ). ISBN In addition to Lawrence Venuti's. abromishico.ml - Download as PDF File .pdf) or view presentation slides online.

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Exploring Translation Theories presents a comprehensive analysis of the core contemporary paradigms DownloadPDF MB Read online. Exploring Translation Theories. London and New. York: Routledge, (pp ). ISBN In addition to Lawrence Venuti's Translation. ISBN: ebk Exploring Translation Theories presents a comprehensive analysis of the core contemporary paradigms of Western translation.

However, the accessibility of language and the lay-out makes it an equally easy read for anyone interested in learning about reflection on translation. In addition to the presentation and discussion on the main theories of the paradigm under focus, each chapter includes sub-sections on the main points covered, virtues of and counter-arguments posed to the paradigm, and a summary, all of which ease the reading-process visually and mentally.

The suggested projects and activities at the end of every chapter could be very useful classroom activities to engage the stu- dents with. One of the challenges of teaching translation theory is to render it rel- evant for the students, who have until then conceptualised it in complete isolation from the practice of translating. The up-to-date, engaging questions and small re- search projects provided in this section address that challenge quite effectively and encourage students or in general, the reader to think about translation theory ac- tively in relation to practice, beyond the written word.

The related website1 could also offer useful material. In Chapters 2 and 3, he discusses the controversial con- cept of equivalence, which, Pym states and I agree, we cannot and should not do away with so easily in the study and practice of translation. Therefore, in any couplet provided, it is pos- sible to go from language A to B and back from B to A without disturbing the 1 http: Accessed April For Pym, this sub-paradigm was a response to structuralism, which argued translation that was impossible since every language was considered in- herently different from another.

However, as we read on, we learn that things do not work so smoothly. Here, in the chapter on natural equivalence, Pym in- troduces the notion of directional equivalence before the chapter devoted to it. This is where confusion starts for the reader, and we begin to think maybe these two no- tions are not so much in opposition after all. Pym ex- plains why: In other words, we learn that the criterion in the very definition of natural equivalence equivalence existing before the act of translation might be overlooked in some cases, but another criterion, which is introduced here i.

What is a translation theory?

Unfortunately, in Chapter 3 things do not seem to get better in this respect. At this stage, things become difficult for readers who do not forget what they have read and for whom precision matters.

Meanwhile, instead of benefiting from these two notions of equivalence to find our way in a confusing terrain as Pym promises, we readers are trying to understand what criteria apply to each, and which theory is under which category for what reason.

Theories of equivalence are already laden with concepts of polarity difficult to map on each other and trace; natural and directional equivalence seem to add one more to those, rather than being heuristic devices.

Note that the distinction [between literal and free translation] need not map on to any profound difference between natural and direc- tional equivalence. Instead, Pym could have presented the theories on equivalence in their chronological order in a single chapter only, without, at the same time, giving up on these concepts or forcing so much already existing the- ories under either of the titles.

Chapter 4 deals with translation theories that have developed in opposition to a certain aspect of the equivalence paradigm. Pym explains very well that, at its initial stages, functionalism was not so different from the equivalence paradigm simply because it still maintained that the ST was the main factor in determining the function of the TT this is the case for the theories of Katharina Reiss, Werner Koller and even Christiana Nord. It also demonstrates perfectly how the linguistic idea of equiv- alence cannot really help us in certain situations where social, ethical and communicative factors should be taken into account.

The title of the first section is again a to-the-point ques- tion: Here Pym places the advent of uncertainty in translation studies in a historical context, based on two factors mainly: However, for Quine, we can never be certain of this equivalence and other interpretations are always possible.

The kind of translation here is used in a much broader sense than, say, the concept of translation in Skopos the- ory discussed earlier: This is hardly a situation where translators envisaged by the descriptive or functionalist paradigm usually find themselves in. Pym does not warn about the possible confusion of translation with interpretation and he does not acknowledge the difference.

Although I think it is based on the wrong example, we do get the idea: This is in line with his initial definitions of these key terms and it is useful.

The interconnectedness of translation and language cannot be denied, and theories on language can definitely help us think about translation, but here it seemed to me as if Pym was pushing a bit too far to apply views of language to theories of trans- lation in order to come up with a paradox.

If these two couplets are considered separately, the transition from the indeterminist view of language to determinist translation, and vice versa, might not look as a paradox. Besides, Pym is carefully sidestepping Saussure at this point, who he refers to in passing in this section. But of course, this might not be as interesting, for there is no paradox here. After discussing Heidegger and Benjamin, Pym goes on to explore theo- ries of how to live with uncertainty. Theories of consensus, hermeneutics, con- structivism, game theory, and theories of semiosis are all discussed here.

Presumably because they were not just any old trans- lators: Assigning meaning to an unchanging, fixed source, an entity outside hu- manity is indeed a prevalent way of living with uncertainty for all humanity, not only for people of the Judeo-Christian faith.

Exploring Translation Theories

However, Pym presents really valid reasons to in- clude it in his work. It might, for example, pose certain implications for transla- tion theory. The use of the internationalised version renders the actual translation process more cost-and -time-efficient. Much research can be carried out in this way: compare the texts, collect the differences, then try to organize the various kinds of shifts. There are at least two ways of approaching this task: bottom-up analysis starts from the smaller units usually terms, phrases or sentences and works up to the larger ones text, context, genre, culture ; top -down analysis goes the other way, starting with the larger systemic factors especially constructs such as the position of translations within the sociocultural system and working down to the smaller ones especially categories like translation strategies.

In principle, it should make no difference which end you start at: all roads lead to Rome, and there are always dialectics of loops and jumps between levels. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the difference between bottom-up and top-down has a lot to do with the role of theory in description. Here we are interested in the underlying reasons why it is no longer used.

For example, you might note that the two phrases occupy corresponding positions in the two texts but the English has a value suddenness that seems to be absent in the Spanish. Eventually we will have compiled a notebook full of such shifts, which we hope will form patterns manifesting structures of some kind that can tell us something about the translation. What could be wrong with that? Finally, there are many cases where formal correspondence itself implies some kind of shift. For example, the American English term democracy certainly corresponded formally to the East German term Demokratie as in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik , but with a remarkable shift of ideological content the example is used by Arrojo in Chesterman and Arrojo So why should the formal correspondence itself not represent a shift?

In all these ways, we find that bottom-up shift analysis presupposes far too quickly that the meanings of language are clear and stable i. Even without questioning the ultimately arbitrary way in which transemes are identified, there must remain some doubt about the identification of the shift and of its causation.

The bottom-up accumulation of shifts tends to be methodologically murky, and the long lists of differences only rarely congeal into firm findings at the higher level of analysis. This approach can produce much doubt and even more data. At the end of the day, it requires orientation from a few reductive theories. That is one of the reasons why the descriptive paradigm is actually full of theories.

For many of the Europeans, especially those coming from literary studies, shifts could be made quite independently of any simple desire to maintain equivalence. They could thus be approached in a top-down way, starting from major hypotheses about why they might exist and how they could form tendencies. This seems so simple as to be obvious. On another level, shifts could be patterned differently because of historical factors the nature of the receiving system, patronage, new text purpose, different ideas about what translation is, etc.

On all those levels, the top-down approach to shifts seeks causal factors the reasons for the shifts that are quite different from those of the equivalence paradigm. These descriptive approaches could obviously join forces with the bottom-up analyses carried out by linguists, but their theoretical frame was fundamentally different.

As an example of the top-down analysis of historically bound translation shifts, consider the basic problem of what to do with a source text that is in verse. We know that in some target cultures notably in French, at least until the late nineteenth century , foreign verse forms can consistently be rendered in prose.

So the problem is solved: translators know what to do translate into prose , and readers know what to expect verse is for only texts originally written in French. That would be one huge kind of shift, and it has remarkably little to do with equivalence of the linguistic kind. In other cultural situations, however, alternative shifts may be deemed appropriate.

A model of options for the translation of verse from Holmes Verse as prose: All foreign verse is rendered as prose, as has been the norm in translations into French.

Mimetic form: The translator chooses a form in the target language that is as close as possible as the one used in the source language. For example, an English sonnet can be rendered as a Spanish sonnet well enough, even though the metrics of feet in English will not correspond to the syllabic metrics of Spanish.

Often this involves introducing a new form into the target culture, as was done when English terza rima was modeled on the Italian verse form. This option might be an application of the equivalence paradigm at a high textual level. Extraneous form: In some situations, the translator may adopt a form that is totally unconnected with the form or content of the source text, and that is not dictated by any blanket form for translations in the target culture.

In other words, anything can happen. Holmes sees these options as being appropriate to different historical situations. This might be the case of German in the first half of the nineteenth century. Descriptivists have made use of at least three concepts that are of some help here: systems, norms, and for want of a better term target-sidedness. What Holmes does in his brief study is in a sense systematic: he identifies and classifies the available options, and he gives them a certain logical symmetry, largely thanks to some blunt distinctions between form, function and content.

This is theory with a very top-down function: the theorist conceptualizes the alternatives, then goes looking for historical examples.

One must be careful, though, about the status of this systematization. What Holmes does here is systematic ordered, thorough, complete , but not necessarily systemic in the sense that might be related to a system where all terms in some way depend on all other terms. If we were talking about a language system as in the work of the systemic functionalist Halliday, for example , we would see the speaker producing a string of words such that at each point there is a restricted set of what words can follow.

The language system limits the choices that can be made. The same is true of the translator as a language producer, since the target language imposes limited sets of choices, which vary as we go about doing the translation.

However, does the same kind of decision-making concern how to render a foreign verse form? Is it properly systemic? To a certain extent, yes: all receiving cultures have literary genres, and they mostly maintain structural relations between themselves. Then again, no: those sets of genres need bear no resemblance at all to the five translational alternatives outlined by Holmes. The receiving culture is one thing; the sets of theoretical alternatives are something quite different.

In this case, the kind of choice process outlined by Holmes surely cannot be considered a psychological reality. Germanic culture, without a state, was prepared to draw on other cultures in order to develop.

Translations of Homer brought hexameters into German, and translations of Shakespeare brought in blank verse. Indeed, speaking in , Schleiermacher saw this capacity to draw from other cultures as the key to foreignizing translations, regarded as being a particularly Germanic strategy.

The translator might even see it as the true or correct way in which all translations should be done, in all sociocultural environments. As Toury would later clarify a: , the system here belongs to the level of the theorist the options theoretically available , which is to be distinguished from the alternatives actually available to the translator at the time of translating, which are in turn quite different from what the translator actually does.

By definition, these empirical relationships constitute a subset of the possible relationships; their degree of frequency in a given cultural situation is a crucial indication that certain norms have been at work. The top-down thinking is fairly clear here even though, once again, one could presumably work upwards at the same time. Holmes mentions them in a fairly off-hand way; they seem to be quite separate, isolated phenomena.

However, it is possible to see such things as being bound together to some extent, as different aspects of the one culture.

This second vision requires us to see cultures as being systemic in themselves. In Holmes, those systems appear to hang together rather loosely; there is no necessary homogeneity or determinist fatality.

In other theorists, particularly those more closely in touch with the legacy of Russian Formalism, cultural systems can impose quite strong logics. The stronger the logic by which the system is presumed to operate i.

The internal logics of a culture are not going to determine everything that can be done within that culture. For Even-Zohar, translated literature can be seen as a kind of sub-system occupying a position within the literary polysystem that hosts it. The relations are nevertheless strong enough for certain general tendencies to be observed.

His conceptualization of systems as dynamic and pluralist allows Even-Zohar to ask what translations can actually do within their target cultures, and how they evolve from relations between cultures particularly in terms of inferiority and prestige. That kind of finding is unlikely to be popular within a discipline disposed to see translations as a hidden and maligned cause of change. Even-Zohar nevertheless stresses that translation is an essential element to the understanding of any cultural system, since no culture is an entirely independent entity.

Pym A. Exploring Translation Theories

In each case, it pays to read the descriptions closely, paying particular attention to the verbs and the agents of the verbs who is supposed to be doing what. In strong systems theory, you will find that the systems themselves do things, as if they were people. In other approaches, people are portrayed as doing things within systems of constraints.

That is a big difference, bearing on fundamental issues such as human liberty, the determinist logics of history, and sometimes even the role and nature of translations.

The function here is what the text does in the system. There obviously must be common ground between the two usages, yet few theorists have actually sought it.

Here is one way we might think about this relationship: On the surface, it would seem that the purpose of the translation, the Skopos, varies with each translation situation.

All the situations are different, yet they always occur within wider social and cultural constraints that limit and orient them. One should thus be able to connect some wider systemic function to the smaller situational function. Both paradigms are strongly relativist; both refuse to see the source text as the only factor determining a translation.

Yet they have long been looking in separate directions. If there is a significant historical bridge between the two notions of function, it might lie behind the notion of norms. For Toury, norms are the translation of general values or ideas shared by a community […] into performance instructions appropriate for and applicable to particular situations, specifying what is prescribed and forbidden as well as what is tolerated and permitted in a certain behavioural dimension.

It could also misleadingly be associated with a set of rules or official regulations which would indeed be called normas in Spanish. In the descriptive paradigm, however, the term norm usually operates at a wider, more social level. For example, we could say that in the nineteenth century the norm for translating foreign verse into French was to render it into prose.

There was no official rule stating that this had to be done, but there was an informal collective agreement. When translators approached the foreign text, they would accept as a matter of course that their work was not to imitate what the text looked or sounded like. When publishers hired translators, that is what they expected them to do. And when readers approached a literary translation, they would similarly accept that foreign poetry simply had to be in prose.

Of course, the norm was not respected by all translators; norms are not laws that everyone has to follow. Norms are more like the common standard practice in terms of which all other types of practice are marked.

That much is relatively unproblematic. On several different levels, it no doubt embodied the general idea that French culture was superior to other cultures. Further, if we follow Toury, there would be some kind of social though not juridical penalization involved whenever a translator did not adhere to the norm.

For instance, a text that differed radically from the established genres might be considered peculiar, ugly, or simply not worth downloading. Norm-breaking might thus mark not only translations that are bad, but also those that are exceptionally good. The concept of norms thus covers quite a few related but different things.


They concern what translators think they are supposed to do, what clients think translators ought to do, what text-users think a translation should be like, and what kind of translations are considered reprehensible or especially laudable within the system. If translators in a given society usually add numerous explanatory footnotes, that might be a professional norm.

If readers are frustrated when such notes do not appear, or if the notes are in an unusual place perhaps at the beginning of the text rather than at the bottom of each page , then that frustration will be in relation to expectancy norms. Ideally, the different types of norms reinforce one another, so that translators tend to do what clients and readers expect of them.

In times of cultural change, the various types of norms might nevertheless be thrown out of kilter, and considerable tension can result.

Indeed, in systems of self-induced change, an extreme logic of the avant-garde may mean that all text producers, including translators, set about breaking norms, and text users thus expect norms to be broken. That is, norm-breaking can become the norm, as in extreme Modernism. The idea of norms and norm-breaking has been important for the way descriptive research relates to the other paradigms of translation theory.

If we apply the concept of norms seriously, we should probably give up the idea of defining once and for all what a good translation is supposed to be although it is perhaps still possible to say what a good or bad social effect might look like, and thus evaluate the way norms work, cf.

Pym b. In fact, the very notion of what a translation is must become very relative. As we have said, this relativism would be a major point of compatibility with the Skopos paradigm and indeed with the paradigm of uncertainty that we will meet in a later chapter.

However, the same relativism runs counter to much of the linguistic work done in the equivalence paradigm. When a linguist analyzes a source text to see how it can or should be translated, the basic assumption is that the answers will come from the nature of that source text, and the nature of translation is thus a very clear thing; there is not much relativism involved.

In the Skopos paradigm, the answers will come from the situation in which the translation is carried out, to the extent that it matters little whether a text is a translation or a liberal re-write. In the descriptive paradigm, however, any questions about the borders between translations and non-translations can be answered in terms of norms, which in turn express values from the wider system within which the translator is working. In this sense, the theory of norms positions translation somewhere between the relative certainty of equivalence and the relative indifference of Skopos theory.

Such comparisons of paradigms could be exploited in the s, when the various approaches were starting to congeal into a tentative discipline called Translation Studies. How could a theory set out to tell someone how to translate, when the very notion of translation varied so much from epoch to epoch and from culture to culture?

The call for descriptions was thus initially a more or less direct negation of the kind of prescription associated with the equivalence paradigm. Similarly, whereas the equivalence paradigm invited analysis to start from the source text and its role in the source situation, the descriptive paradigm tended to favor the target text and its position in the target system.

Toury a explicitly recommends starting analysis from the translation rather than from the source text; he thus creates space for research that takes no account of the source text at all. For example, you can simply compare different translations, or compare translations with non-translations within the target system.

That kind of full-frontal opposition helped to make Toury the enfant terrible of his day. The notion of norms, however, allowed a kind of prescriptivism to be introduced into descriptive studies, almost through the back door.

Even if the role of theory was not to tell translators how to translate, a descriptive approach could identify the norms by which a translation could be considered good by people in a certain place and time. This has allowed for a certain application of descriptive studies in the training of translators and interpreters. Toury has suggested, for example, that trainees be asked to render the same text according to different norms e.

The trainee will thus be made aware that there are many different ways to translate, each with certain advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the same kind of exercise can be recommended within the purpose- based paradigm: translate the one text in different ways in order to achieve different purposes.

The different paradigms can lead to the same kind of training activity. Seeking an alternative mode of compatibility, Chesterman proposes that the study of norms will enable the teacher and learner to predict the relative market success of one strategy or another. No teacher can tell any student there is only one way to translate since many norms are available , but empirical research can make it possible to predict success or failure when dominant norms are met or violated.

In all these ways, the concept of norms has helped bridge some of the gaps between descriptivism and prescriptivism.

A more methodological problem concerns the way norms can be discovered. Such pseudotranslations are found in a wide range of cultures, with numerous different functions Santoyo Their particular interest for Toury, however, is that they can indicate what a target culture expects translations to be like, and often how that culture relates to other cultures in terms of prestige.

This may provide a short-cut to the identification and possible explanation of norms. A more top-down approach to the discovery of norms would start from peri-textual data such as reviews and critiques, which would tell us about the expectancy norms involved in the reception of a translation. More highly focused research can economize resources by concentrating on particular public debates about norms and norm-breaking, thus identifying and analyzing moments when norms are undergoing change cf.

Pym Such an approach helps connect descriptive theory with more dynamic and perhaps less systemic views of cultural history. The concept of norms has thus helped bring several approaches closer together, at the same time as the empirical discovery of norms has undoubtedly increased our historical understanding of the way translations operate. The fundamental concept, however, is not as clear-cut as it may seem.

When these expectations are defeated we find that there are criminals , the legal norms do not adapt accordingly criminals must still be punished, no matter how many criminals there are.

Many expectancy norms concerning translations could be of this counterfactual kind. For example, no matter how often we find that translations are domesticating or foreignizing, or explanatory, or full of shifts, etc. If some norms are working like this, then the bottom-up counting of facts and frequencies will never connect with the social pronouncements of what is acceptable or unacceptable.

This is one very basic reason why a descriptive approach to norms requires theoretical concepts. And that is another reason why, in turn, the descriptive paradigm is full of theories. Whenever theorists tell us about norms, we should ask exactly how they have discovered those norms. If bottom-up, the empirical patterns may not all have equal status as psychological or social facts. And if top-down, then we should ask where the theorist found the categories of analysis, and why.

And if not, how can we possibly avoid imposing our own translation norms on other cultures and periods? This is one of the classical theoretical aporias that tend to worry researchers in dominant Western cultures. In other words, we wait to see what each culture and each period has to say about what is or is not a translation. A pseudotranslation, for example, might then be held to be a translation only for as long as the trick works, and it becomes a non-translation for those aware of the false pretence.

That solution remains fraught with logical difficulties. In order to select the words, we would surely need our own concept of translation, if not some clear ideas about what good and bad translations are. The debate over that issue has been one of the most fundamental but recondite activities in Translation Studies cf.

At the other extreme, we might argue that the empirical data are so diverse and unruly that we have to make some initial imposition and selection, simply in order to get research moving cf. Pym a; Poupaud et al.

The best we can do is to be honest and self-critical about our initial principles and criteria, and open to the discovery of new concepts in the course of the research process.At the time the descriptivist paradigm was developing, such questions were of little concern.

Readers are encouraged to explore the various theories and consider their strengths, weaknesses, and implications for translation practice. And that is another reason why, in turn, the descriptive paradigm is full of theories. That much is relatively unproblematic.

The scientific approach of Russian Formalism provided an impulse for basic advances of the Prague Cercle in structuralist linguistics, working in areas from phonology to the study of poetic language, all potentially part of the general analysis of cultural signs. As we have said, this relativism would be a major point of compatibility with the Skopos paradigm and indeed with the paradigm of uncertainty that we will meet in a later chapter.

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