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Developments in Translation Studies


Jakobson’s discussion on translation centres around certain key questions of linguistics, including equivalence between items in SL and TL and the notion of translatability. These are issues which became central to research in translation in the 1960s and 1970s. This burgeoning field received the name Translation Studies thanks to the Netherlands-based scholar James S. Holmes in his paper The Name and Nature of Translation Studies, originally presented in 1972 but widely published only much later (Holmes 2000). Holmes mapped out the new field like a science, dividing it into:

1) ‘pure’ Translation Studies (encompassing descriptive studies of existing translations and general and partial translation theories) and

2) ‘applied’ studies (covering translator training, translator aids and translation criticism, amongst others).

More priority is afforded to the ‘pure’ side, the objectives of which Holmes considers to be twofold (1988:71):

1) to describe the phenomena of translating and translation(s) as they manifest themselves in the world of our experience, and

2) to establish general principles by means of which these phenomena can be explained and predicted.

Here Holmes uses translating for the process and translation for the product. The descriptions and generalized principles envisaged were much reinforced by Gideon Toury in his Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond (1995) where two tentative(предварительный) general ‘laws’ of translation are proposed:

1) the law of growing standardization − TTs generally display less linguistic variation than STs, and

2) the law of interference − common ST lexical and syntactic patterns tend to be copied, creating unusual patterns in the TT.

In both instances, the contention is that translated language in general displays specific characteristics, known as universals of translation − Specific characteristics that, it is hypothesized, are typical of translated language as distinct from non-translated language. This would be the same whatever the language pair involved and might include greater cohesion (единство) and explicitation (with reduced ambiguity) and the fact that a TT is normally longer than a ST. The strong form of this hypothesis is that these are elements that always occur in translation; the weaker form is that these are tendencies that often occur. Recent progress with corpus-based approaches have followed up suggestions by Baker (1993) to investigate universals using larger corpora (electronic databases of texts) in an attempt to avoid the anecdotal findings of small-scale studies.

Although references are still to be found to the new or ‘emerging’ discipline (e.g. Riccardi 2002), since Holmes’s paper, Translation Studies has evolved to such an extent that it is really a perfect interdiscipline, interfacing with a whole host of other fields (See figure 1.1). The aim may still be to describe translation phenomena, and in some cases to establish general principles, but the methods of analysis are more varied and the cultural and ideological features of translation have become as prominent as linguistics.

The richness of the field is also illustrated by areas for research suggested by Williams and Chesterman (2002: 6-27), which include:

1. Text analysis and translation.

2. Translation quality assessment.

3. Translation of literary and other genres.

4. Multi-media translation (audiovisual translation).

5. Translation and technology.

6. Translation history.

7. Translation ethics.

8. Terminology and glossaries.

9. The translation process.

10. Translator training.

11. The characteristics of the translation profession.

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