Linguistics Translation
by
Sara Laviosa
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0224

Introduction

The theoretical, empirical, and pedagogic study of translation is the concern of the interdisciplinary and international field of scholarship known, since 1972, as translation studies. The aim of theoretical translation studies is to elaborate principles that explain and predict the linguistic, cognitive, cultural, and ideological phenomena inherent in the process of transferring a written text from the source language to the target language in a specific sociocultural context. Moreover, theory aims to account for the variegated and complex nature of the written product resulting from that process. Some of the major types of translation that have been extensively investigated from a theoretical perspective are Bible translation, literary translation, scientific and technical translation, machine translation, subtitling, advertising, commercial translation, cultural translation, self-translation, and pedagogic translation. The goal of descriptive translation studies is threefold. It undertakes synchronic and diachronic text-focused analyses of translations (product-oriented studies). It investigates the influence of translations in the recipient sociocultural context (function-oriented studies). It examines the mental processes involved in the translation act (process-oriented descriptive studies). Translation description and translation theory constitute the two branches of the discipline that focus on pure research. The third branch, applied translation studies, concerns itself with translator training, translation aids, translation policy, and translation criticism. Translator training includes teaching methods (approach, design, and procedures), testing techniques (the diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment of the various components of translation competence), and curriculum planning. Translation aids comprise translation-specific lexicographical and terminological resources as well as grammars. Translation policy involves giving sound advice on the place and role of translators and translation in society, including language education. Translation criticism subsumes translation interpretation and evaluation. The three main branches of translation studies are interdependent, since each provides data and insights for the other two. Thus, translation scholars elaborate theories and models by combining the observational and experimental results yielded by descriptive and applied studies. Researchers working in descriptive and applied studies draw on the insights provided by translation theory, and put forward operational hypotheses they test empirically or experimentally. In each of the three branches of translation studies there are two additional dimensions. The historical dimension deals with the history of translation theory, translation description, and applied translation studies. The methodological dimension discusses issues concerning the definition of the object of study of the discipline together with the choice of the research styles, methods, and tools that are most appropriate in the different subdivisions of the field.

General Overviews

Gentzler 2001 and Tymoczko 2014 carefully and critically review the most important contemporary linguistic and literary theories of translation. Toury 2012 and Laviosa, et al. 2017 provide a comprehensive survey of descriptive translation studies. Pym, et al. 2008 contains a broad range of studies that illustrate the pivotal role that translation description plays for the development of the discipline as a whole. Within the subfield of applied translation studies, Baer and Koby 2003 and Tennent 2005 extensively review teaching methodologies and curriculum planning in undergraduate and graduate degree programs designed to form professional translators. In the specific research area of translation policy, Cook 2010 thoroughly reviews the place and role of translation in the teaching and learning of modern languages, and advocates the reappraisal of didactic translation. Venuti 2008 addresses the historical dimension of translation studies by focusing on Anglo-American literary translation from the 17th century to the present day. Saldanha and O’Brien 2014 examines in depth the methodological dimension of translation studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

  • Baer, Brian James, and Geoffrey S. Koby, eds. 2003. Beyond the Ivory Tower. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    E-mail Citation »

    A collection of twelve essays that survey and assess translation pedagogy in three main domains: translation as process, translation as product, and translation-related technologies.

  • Cook, Guy. 2010. Translation in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A scholarly monograph that surveys the revival of translation in language learning and teaching, and provides a valid rationale for legitimizing translation not only as an activity among other forms of bilingual instruction or a skill in its own right, but also as a long-term practice-driven research endeavor in language education.

  • Gentzler, Edwin. 2001. Contemporary translation theories. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

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    A critical review of five key translation theories: the North American Translation Workshop, Eugene Nida’s linguistic approach, early translation studies, polysystem theory, and deconstruction.

  • Laviosa, Sara, Adriana Pagano, Hannu Kempannen, and Meng Ji. 2017. Textual and contextual analysis in empirical translation studies. Beijing: Springer.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-1969-2E-mail Citation »

    A coauthored monograph that presents, in five self-contained chapters, a representative sample of studies that adopt quantitative and qualitative descriptive research approaches to analyze data retrieved from multilingual computer corpora.

  • Pym, Anthony, Miriam Shlesinger, and Daniel Simeoni, eds. 2008. Beyond descriptive translation studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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    A collection of twenty-eight wide-ranging scholarly essays that pay tribute to Gideon Toury, and engage with his foundational work in translation studies, with a view to expanding his vision of an autonomous, empirical discipline devoted to the study of translation and translating.

  • Saldanha, Gabriela, and Sharon O’Brien. 2014. Research methodologies in translation studies. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315760100E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive and detailed scholarly survey of the variegated research methods currently used in translation studies. It contains many illustrative examples of good practice, and gives sound advice to young as well as seasoned researchers on how to choose the most appropriate research model, approach, method, and tools to undertake an investigation that meets high quality standards.

  • Tennent, Martha, ed. 2005. Training for the new millennium. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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    A collection of twelve essays by leading scholars in translation studies, who assess the state of the art in translator training and put forward novel pedagogic models and teaching methods for translator education at tertiary level.

  • Toury, Gideon. 2012. Descriptive translation studies—and beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    DOI: 10.1075/btl.100E-mail Citation »

    A fundamental, inspirational work that introduces descriptive translation studies, and expounds on the scope, rationale, and research methodology of this branch of the discipline. It outlines and discusses the key role that translation description plays in relation to theoretical and applied domains. It presents a wide array of illustrative case studies. It looks beyond description and points to the impact that the accumulation of empirical knowledge of translation will have on theory and practice.

  • Tymoczko, Maria. 2014. Enlarging translation, empowering translators. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315759494E-mail Citation »

    A seminal work that first surveys the development of postpositivist theories of translation since World War II, and then addresses challenging questions, such as the definition of translation, the need to adopt interdisciplinary research methods, the development of novel approaches to cultural translation, and the implications of these new approaches for translation pedagogy and professional practice.

  • Venuti, Lawrence. 2008. The translator’s invisibility. London: Routledge.

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    Based on extensive archival research, it traces the history of English-language literary translation from a genealogical perspective that conceives history as a cultural political practice.

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