The first issue of this double volume dedicated to research methodologies in Translation Studies set its objective to cover a large plane dominated, on the one hand, by scholars favoring empirical research, and concerned primarily with the difficulties currently experienced by our discipline as it struggles to meet the specific methodological criteria of this type of research (Neunzig, Gile, Chesterman), and on the other hand, by scholars favoring an interdisciplinary methodology anchored within the humanities (Malena, Jaka, Stratford). This second issue, for its part, pursues the question of empiricism from a number of post-modern perspectives, which cast doubt on traditional research models, be it on the empirical model itself (Basalamah), on biases toward specific methodological steps such as contextualization (Fraser), or on the prescription of a single comprehensive research methodology in Translation Studies (de Wilde). Furthermore, could our discipline be assumed collectively as an instrument for casting doubt within the larger, cultural and/or political arena, for re-reading history as a narrative of hegemonic (Hayakawa) and/or patriarchal (El Badaoui) power? How do our research methods adapt to the constantly evolving technologies that provide new forms of data (Plassard), and influence modes of lexicographic documentation (Tercedor et al.)?
In the first contribution to this issue, Salah Basalamah examines the question of methodology through the lens of our discipline’s evolution in theory, to show how method has been determined largely by the successive theoretical perspectives assumed by scholars, beginning with the linguistic approach, and passing through functionalism to DTS. After this comprehensive meta-theoretical reflection, the author establishes the presence of an evolving bias toward empirical research at the expense of other approaches stemming from research that is more concept-based, research perceived by the proponents of empiricism as less “scientific.” How, the author asks, can Translation Studies, inter-disciplinary by nature, allow itself to be circumscribed by a single, privileged methodology borrowed from the natural sciences when the humanities, based primarily in conceptual research, offers its wide array of compelling options?
However, the humanities are not without their share of methodological biases, as Ryan Fraser argues, demonstrating through a specific case study the limits of contextualization, “the fundamental first step of virtually every research method in Translation Studies developed since the Cultural Turn.” D’Antin van Rooten’s homophonic translations of Mother Goose are quite literally hors-cadre, argues the author, who perceives in the Mots d’Heures, Gousses, Rames a compelling illustration of Derrida’s post-modern view on language structure and its ability to evade context. Moreover, assuming that the neighbouring disciplines of Translation Studies have their own plural methodologies, we should not be so quick to derive (or perhaps “contrive”) any comprehensive research model calling itself “integrated” or “unified,” as July de Wilde argues in her study of the translation of literary irony in the work of Mario Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Adolfo Bioy Casares.
A further question arises: Is an open and flexible methodology not required for those researchers who use translations and Translation Studies for the purpose of re-reading history, and of gaining perspective upon the contemporary political and socio-cultural scene? Atsuko Hayakawa, for example, draws from both Translation and Post-Colonial Studies to trace the evolution of censorship and suppression imposed upon writers voicing their anguish in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombings. Through her examination of Kurihara’s war poems and their translations (including her own), Hayakawa demonstrates how the victims’ voices have finally come to be heard, and integrated in a continued dialogue between the post-modern present and the darker moments of 20th-century history. Following Hayakawa is Manal el Badaoui, who draws upon Translation and Intercultural Studies. Through her examination of certain specific cultural elements in two Egyptian translations of Tahar Ben Jelloun’s La Nuit sacrée, she demonstrates how the context of translation determines the translator’s strategies, as well as the ideologies and the dynamics of power—both intercultural and patriarchal—reflected in the target text.
The two final contributions to this issue are concerned with methodological issues arising within the process of translation. Plassard argues that process-oriented Translation Studies would do well to make use of a new form of data currently available through virtual forums: mailing lists. The latter, Plassard argues, could be useful for research, and should be integrated into current methodologies, as they reveal new forms of discourse between practitioners in the field. The latter are also at the forefront of Tercedor, López-Rodriguez, and Faber’s concerns, as they insist upon the need for an inter-action between translators and lexicographers for the design and structural organization of dictionaries. Interacting dynamically, in this article, are not only practicing translators and lexicographers, but also research fields as varying as Translation Studies, Lexicography and Cognitive Psychology. This “dynamicity” translates into innovative modes of conceptualizing and organizing dictionary entries.