For a Clear Definition of the Discipline of Translation Studies, or Why the Earth Is Not Flat

By Lautel-Ribstein, Florence | European English Messenger, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

For a Clear Definition of the Discipline of Translation Studies, or Why the Earth Is Not Flat


Lautel-Ribstein, Florence, European English Messenger


1. Introduction

Over the last thirty years in France, the word "traductology" has led to numerous and sometimes polemical publications. It is a non-equivalent equivalent of the expression "Translation Studies" that is supposed to completely cover this discipline. Its ambition is to reflect on translation practices and the associated theories they give rise to, as well as on the history of translation. The "traductology" commentary required at the competitive examinations for future teachers in French secondary schools has done little to improve things. In fact, it has rather gone against the research in the international community of translation specialists, because of a lack of clear definition of what "translation[al]ist" and "traductology" actually mean, as well as of both a real and official recognition of this discipline as an independent section within the framework of the CNU (The National Committee for Universities).

Indeed, the "traductology" commentary, which, for the sake of intellectual honesty, should perhaps be called by its real name, an exercise in applied linguistics, contradicts the scientific development of this field nationally and internationally, because of its isolation from all the disciplines that translation studies actually overlap. It has quite naturally made a great number of professional and university translators snigger, philosophers of language shrug their shoulders, made literature specialists sigh, and created feelings of embarrassment among numerous linguists, who usually prefer less sterile and more fruitful issues related to translational approaches. And, one must add, rightly so: for the earth is not flat. The dominant model for the "traductology" commentary by those who prepare for the competitive examinations is based on the use of dictionaries and manuals, and focuses on language acts only. It is also one that values directly or indirectly the dissociation of semantic processing out of context and pragmatic processing in context where, according to Pierre Cadiot (2010: 14), "the signification of a word is first the object of fixation and 'referential' as well as 'ontological' individuation, that assumes globally a certain atomism of meaning coupled to categories of entities--or objects--and syntactic configurations" (my translation) (1). This approach favours a type of "realism" and allows for a first fixed relationship between/perception/representation / conscience on the one hand, and language on the other. The well-known triangle for "designation, referencing and categorisation" outlined by Georges Kleiber (1999) allows us to point out that the lexicon is here understood as being, Cadiot (2010: 15) says, "a completed and prior synthesis, and reserves the examination of improperly adapted usages for the next stage, where secondary mechanisms related to derivation or inference intervene"(my translation) (2). If this is the basis for the teaching of translation to our students, well then, yes, the earth is flat. And flat will also be, ipso facto, the translations they will produce. Indeed a translation reveals quite a great deal and a lot more than one imagines: its coherence and its unity--or their absence--show the depth of reflection that has been problematized, the possible attachment to language acts alone, with disregard for discourse analysis or, on the contrary, the taking into account--especially for a literary text--of the process of subjectivation to the work in the source text following the critical positioning of the translator.

Need one be reminded that the aim of Translation Studies is to translate better and not simply to engage oneself a posteriori in a descriptive linguistic exercise of the act of translation? Never in the living memory of translation specialists has such an exercise improved a single translation by a student. The proof is in the undeniable quality of the translations of some students and their poor performance in the above-mentioned linguistic commentary or, a contrario (and especially), the quality performances of other students in the so-called "traductology" exercise, and their persistently mediocre translations in spite of years of preparation for the monolithic analysis of these "language acts". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

For a Clear Definition of the Discipline of Translation Studies, or Why the Earth Is Not Flat
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.