Vertalen in theorie en praktijk
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Translating is still generally considered an ungrateful, if not impossible task. To be sure, as an interpretive reproduction of its source the translation of any text can never be more than a partial realization of the semantic, stylistic and pragmatic meanings of the original. The metatextual character of interlingual translation involves shifts which are not only due to structural differences between natural languages but also result from diverging cultural and intertextual factors (literary tradition and conventions). Hence it follows that translating is a norm-governed activity, the more since the translator has to choose between two opposing strategies: either he attempts to reproduce the functionally relevant features of his source text as adequately as possible; or he sticks to the target norms in producing an acceptable text in his mothertongue. Most translators today try to reconciliate these extremes through a happy compromise. However, translators in various ages have solved the dilemma according to views and aims characteristic of their own time and cultural milieu.From ancient times onwards up to the present age translators of renown have theorized on their activity. Many of the resulting theories contradict one another; and this should not surprise us since theorizing in this early stage signified nothing more or less than a justification of one's own strategies and methods. In that sense the majority of early theories of translation are to be regarded as individual translators1 poetics rather than intersubjectively testable statements on the art. However valuable they may have been in contributing to the production of optimum translations fitting their own historical en geographical surroundings, these prescriptive (and hence normative) approaches to translation do no longer satisfy the conditions set to present-day scientific knowledge.Since the early 1950s translation theory gradually became part of a modern discipline which calls itself Translation Studies. After a few years of dependence on both linguistics and comparative literature this discipline has gone its own way. Being interdisciplinary in nature it borrows insights and methods from other, related, disciplines. Due to recent developments its main emphasis nowadays lies on descriptive studies of translational phenomena, for which it has abandoned the traditional translatability line of thinking. Rather than on theoretical statements its future seems to depend on the student's ability to describe translation processes and their ensuing products. The descriptive course it has taken will not only safeguard the discipline from degenerating into mere theoretical speculation but may certainly foster our knowledge of what translations are and how they function in the literary circuit.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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