Crosscultural Transgressions offers explorations and critical assessments of research methods and models in translation studies, and points up new questions and directions.
Ranging from epistemological questions of description and historiography to the politics of language, including the language of translation research, the book tackles issues of research design and methodology, and goes on to examine the kind of disciplinary knowledge produced in translation studies, who produces it, and whose interests the dominant paradigms serve. The focus is on historical and ideological problems, but the crisis of representation that has affected all the human sciences in recent decades has left its mark.
As the essays in this collection explore the transgressive nature of crosscultural representation, whether in translations or in the study of translation, they remain attentive to institutional contexts and develop a self-reflexive stance.
They also chart new territory, taking their cue from ethnography, semiotics, sociology and cultural studies, and tackling Meso-American iconic scripts, Bourdieu's constructivism, translation between philosophical paradigms, and the complexities of translation concepts in multicultural societies.
Table of Contents
Crosscultural Transgressions: Contents
Preface, Theo Hermans, pp 1-8
Connecting the Two Infinite Orders: Research Methods in Translation Studies, Maria Tymoczko, pp 9-25
Using as an analogy the seventeenth-century crisis of knowledge spurred by the development of the telescope and the microscope, this paper argues that a similar crisis in knowledge itself has occured with the intellectual developments of the twentieth century. Two new infinite orders have opened up: the virtually inexhaustible possibilities suggested by segmenting texts into smaller and smaller units, and the equally inexhaustible possibilities offered by the relationship of texts to layer upon layer of context. Translation studies reflects the new shift in the debate between those who assert the preeminence of linguistic approaches to translation and those who advocate primarily cultural studies approaches to translation. This article argues for research methods that combine both approaches, offering examples of how such research should proceed in translation studies.
The Quest for an Eclectic Methodology of Translation Description, Edoardo Crisafulli, pp 26-43
This article argues in favour of an eclectic methodology in translation studies reconciling descriptive-empirical and critical-interpretative approaches, even though the former focus on quasi-scientific methods and the latter pursue a historical-hermeneutic understanding of translation. It is argued that descriptive translation studies should make a crucial concession and acknowledge the role of evaluation in translation description. The specific view of empiricism underpinning current descriptive approaches - logical empiricism - is at fault insofar as it promotes a positivistic, value-free conception of research. On the other hand, historical empiricism acknowledges the role of evaluation in research. Methodological eclecticism, however, also requires us to go beyond system-oriented thinking and its search for patterned regularities (or norm-governed behaviour). It is suggested, in particular, that translation scholars should harmonize quantitative analysis (which focuses on patterned regularities) and qualitative analysis (which deals with single choices of a personal-ideological nature). If we are to achieve methodological eclecticism we must enhance the sophistication or explanatory power of descriptive translation studies. But this requires descriptivist empiricists to foreground the human translator and the hermeneutic issues involved in the translation process.
What Texts Don't Tell: The Uses of Paratexts in Translation Research, Şehnaz Tahir-Gürçağlar, pp 44-60
The paper deals with the relevance of paratextual elements for historical translation research. Exploring the concept of the paratext as it pertains to translation, it argues that considering translation as a paratext restricts the view of current translation studies and impoverishes its conceptual framework. However, a critical description of paratextual elements surrounding translations can be instrumental in bringing to light the divergent concepts and definitions of translation in a specific period within a culture. The paper maintains that paratexts can offer valuable insight into the production and reception of translated texts by drawing attention to concepts such as authorship, originality and anonymity, which are only covert in translations themselves.
Translation Principles and the Translator's Agenda: A Systemic Approach to Yan Fu, Elsie Chan, pp 61-75
The three principles of translation which the Chinese translator Yan Fu enunciated in 1898 - xin (faithfulness), da (comprehensibility ) and ya (elegance) - achieved canonical status while also being condemned as paradoxical if not contradictory. The essay re-assesses Yan's position and translation agenda in the context of the historical socio-cultural and political crisis in which China found itself at the time. The approach is multidimensional and takes its cue from polysystem theory. It is argued that, from Yan's perspective, his sincere purpose of national salvation through translation would only be achieved when his select readership had understood and accepted his sincerity through his deployment of an accessible poetics and unavoidable acculturation of otherwise inaccessible foreign ideas. Yan's translation model is construed as a function of power and politics while marshalling literary, institutional, political and ideological accessibility for a definite purpose.
Systems in Translation: Systemic Model for Descriptive Translation Studies, Jeremy Munday, pp 76-92
The essay proposes a systematic and replicable model for the analysis of original texts and their translations, within the framework of descriptive translation studies. The model goes beyond earlier static linguistic models of translation and brings together concepts from systemic-functional linguistics, corpus linguistics and the sociocultural framework. A flexible approach to Halliday's systemic-functional analysis allows analysis of the three main strands of meaning in original and translated texts; the use of tools from corpus linguistics solves the logistical problem of dealing with whole texts, since the computer enables even the non-expert researcher to handle large amounts of data quickly and reliably; and the linguistic findings gain relevance when they are located within the sociocultural framework of the texts. The working of the model is illustrated with reference to translations of an essay by the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
A Model of Structuralist Constructivism in Translation Studies, Jean-Marc Gouanvic, pp 93-102
The article proposes a theory of translation based on Pierre Bourdieu's structuralist constructivism. By constructivism Bourdieu means a twofold social genesis, one constitutive of what he calls 'habitus', the other of social structures. The habitus of a translator is a durable, transposable disposition acquired by the socialized body, by which the translator exercises his practice in a field to which a text to be translated belongs. The field is the locus where the translator posits the text's action, at the conjunction of a subjectivity and an historicity. Two cases of translators' habitus are taken as illustrations, with reference to Maurice-Edgar Coindreau and Marcel Duhamel. Their respective habitus appear profoundly different, although their translations appeared with the same publisher, Gallimard. The heuristic status of the notions of habitus and field and the conditions of historicisation are examined with respect to translation. Following Bourdieu's structuralist constructivism, translating agents are seen as playing the role of practical operators who exercise their power in a relational way, i. e. competitively as well as cooperatively.
Translatability between Paradigms: Gramsci's Translation of Crocean Concepts, Derek Boothman, pp 103-119
Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) posed, among other things, the problem of whether and how it is possible to translate between scientific paradigms. Thirty years earlier a similar problem of translatability between philosophical and scientific languages had been raised in Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, then published in the immediate postwar years. This paper examine how Gramsci undertook a translation into his own realist-materialist paradigm of certain key concepts used in the philosophically idealist one of Benedetto Croce, the dominant Italian professional philosopher of the first half of the twentieth century; for purposes of illustration and clarity, a reconstruction is given of these terms translated between the paradigms. Additionally, a comment is offered on Gramsci's approach to the differences between national cultures, and his view of what leads to greater or lesser exactness in such intercultural translations. Finally, some examples are briefly discussed of interparadigmatic translations involving either Gramsci's paradigm or other similar and compatible ones.
Translation as Terceme and Nazire: Culture-bound Concepts and their Implications for a Conceptual Framework for Research on Ottoman Translation History, Saliha Paker, pp 120-143
This paper questions the de-problematization, in scholarly discourse, of terceme as a culture-specific concept covering a wide range of Ottoman translation practices from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. It proposes a conceptual framework for research to break through restrictive approaches that arise from ideological concerns or modern concepts of translation. It calls for research to engage in in-depth investigation into the activity of poet-translators and their texts which have been identified as translations or which researchers can assume to be translations, depending on the evidence in tradition or in modern scholarship. In this way not only terceme but also the concept and practice of nazire, or parallel and competitive poetry, is incorporated in the framework. A context for the study of both is found in the notion of an Ottoman interculture conceived as a site where Ottoman poet-translators engaged in intertextual operations in the overlap of Turkish, Persian and Arabic cultures. It is argued that Ottoman interculture evolved into an autonomous system through a process of linguistic and literary hybridization, and that research within this context calls for a recognition of overt and covert changes in the dynamics of culture over the centuries as well as in practices and conceptions of translation.
Power and Ideology in Translation Research in Twentieth-Century China: An Analysis of Three Seminal Works, Martha Cheung, pp 144-164
The essay is concerned with assertions of difference and resistrance to dominatnt ideology in translation research. It argues that the emphasis on historicization and contextualization that has characterized recent work in translation history, can be applied to the relation between translation studies and prevailing sociopolitical and ideological structures. I consider three twentieth-century Chinese essays on Chinese translation history. Hu Shi's 'The Translated Literature of Buddhism' (Parts 1 and 2) of 1928 championed translations into the vernacular at at time when neither translations not literature in the vernacular (baihua) formed part of the canon. Qian Zhongshu's 'The Translations of Lin Shu' (1964), with its emphasis on Lin Shu's creativity as a translator, challenged the prescriptive insistence on accuracy which was the orthodoxy of the day. Luo Xinzhang's 'A System of its Own - Our Country's Translation Theories' (1983) emphasizes the uniqueness of the Chinese translation tradition and is thus an exercise in identity construction, but an identity markedly different from that propagated by the state at the time. In all these cases it is the agency of the translation researcher as a political subject which is at stake.
Tlaloc Roars: Native America, the West and Literary Translation, Gordon Brotherston, pp 165-179
The confrontation with native American texts challenges received models of translation studies. Western translators who approach native texts are faced with questions not just of radically different language structures, but of little-known or even deliberately obscured literary traditions. These in turn may involve processes of transcription not just from oral enactments and performance but from prior systems of visual language of which western philosophy has shown painfully limited understanding. The order of difference is well exemplified by the Mesoamerican screenfold books, which use a system of representation called tlacuilolli in Nahuatl. Non-phonetic, tlacuilolli may register sound-concepts when required; highly flexible, it may conform by turns to a narrative, an icon or map, or a mathematical table. Integrating into one holistic statement what for us are the separate concepts of letter, picture and arithmetic, it flouts received western notions of writing and literature. Reading and translating these and comparable American texts involves a radical re-think of what otherwise would seem to be the most solid and reliable of western categories, a philosophical adventure which in its turn may reveal new constants and suggest new models for translation studies.
Culture as Translation - and Beyond: Ethnographic Models of Representation in Translation Studies, Michaela Wolf, pp 180-192
In ethnographies as well as in translation in the traditional sense of the word, the cultural Other is not verbalized directly but indirectly, filtered and arranged through the consciousness of the ethnographer or translator. The recognition of the problematic connection between the textualization and conceptualization of culture has provoked a 'crisis of representation' in literary studies, historiography and ethnography. Recent ethnographic approaches have tried to transcend binary oppositions like that between observer and observed, and focus instead on a view of culture marked by pluralism. I argue that cultural representation through translation can obtain significant impulses from cultural studies. The paper discusses some of these approaches to translation, assesses their relation to other approaches dealing with cultural representation as well as current translation studies, and explores the applicability of such models in the study of translation. The discussion shows that this heuristically oriented translation model yields insight into power relations between the cultures involved and helps to identify interrelations between various cultural levels.
A 'Multilingual'and 'International' Translation Studies?, Şebnem Susam-Sarajeva, pp 193-207
The paper questions certain import/export relations between the centre and the periphery of translation studies. It focuses on the expected role of researchers based in the periphery as providers of 'raw materials' in the form of translated texts, paratexts, translational behaviour and histories of translation. It contends that if theory continues to be seen as something that is supplied by the centre and consumed by the periphery, then the theories offered by the centre cannot be truly challenged just by testing them out on data provided by the periphery. The paper asks whether we should prolong the illusion that we are all offering equal contributions to a common goal, the progress of translation studies as a scholarly discipline. Would we not benefit from reflecting more critically on our own working methods and our relationship to the theories, models, tools and materials we use and develop?
Notes on Contributors