Vertalen in theorie en praktijk
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The article deals with the reception side of translation in an industrial context. It is only natural for an industrial linguist to look upon his job as a linguist. Most of his work, however, will be conceived and received by 'people'. This need not necessarily be a source of conflict, but where it is, the linguist tends to rely on the quality of his argument, which just as often does not decide the case. What is overlooked is that much of the disparity is engendered by a different bias as to what a language really is. For such bias, Western culture seems to have three basic options available, each overstressing one of the semiotic dimensions: the semantic, syntactic and pragmatic, as can be seen from linguistic models past and present. Recent work by Roy Harris has shown these options - termed by him the surrogationalist, contractualist and instrumentalist view, respectively - to have very deep roots in the development of Western society.The article argues that, what with the institutional character of a language and the important role of translation in shaping the cultural landscape of the Western world, popular (and much expert) opinion on translation - as a job or a product - might well be classable under three similar headings. An attempt is made at a trichotomy of 'positions' implicit in current reactions on translation concerning such criteria as language universals, translatability, equivalence, translation unit, etc. The resultant typology is believed to reveal constant traits in popular thought on translation. If a typology is the output of lumpers and the input to hair splitters, a lot of 'hairsplitting' in the light of Harris' analysis, or similar historical work, may be called for to improve its reality content.The article opens with an outline of the translator's position in large industries as characterized by three paradoxes: a small-scale profession within a big organization, a high-knowledge job yet lacking back-up from a prestigious academic discipline, a recent career and a very old art. This makes motivation and legitimation of the profession not an easy task. It might be easier if more were known of the sociolinguistics of translation.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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