Comptes rendus

Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer, eds. Border Crossings. Translation Studies and other disciplines. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins, 2016, xv, 380 p.[Record]

  • Patrick Cattrysse

…more information

  • Patrick Cattrysse
    Universiteit Antwerpen
    Université Libre de Bruxelles

After a brief biographical presentation of the contributors, the book opens with a short historical outline of how TS evolved from a sub-discipline into a poly-discipline. Then follows a preliminary introduction into interdisciplinarity studies (IDS). IDS represents an emerging discipline that studies the compartmentalization of (academic) knowledge in terms of disciplines and other formats (Frodeman, 2017). To study interdisciplinarity presupposes agreeing on a working definition of the term “discipline.” For example, the editors suggest defining the word as “a set of theoretical claims and assumptions and operational norms, practical rules which allow the exchange of experience and knowledge between the members of that discipline” (p. 7). Once disciplines are recognized as entities, one may observe various relationships between those disciplines. One way to categorize interdisciplinary interactions, the editors argue, is in terms of importing, exporting or exchanging concepts, methods and expertise. It is well-known that TS has borrowed from various disciplines. However, it is less clear whether and to what extent other disciplines have borrowed from TS. The questionnaire that was sent to the contributors suggests that the editors were hoping to find evidence that TS has also impacted other disciplines. The sixteen chapters that follow cover a wide range of topics and present an interdisciplinary dialogue by virtue of being cowritten by a specialist in the complementary discipline (e.g. history studies, information studies, gender studies) with an interest in translation and a specialist in the TS sub-discipline. Chapters one and two deal with TS and history studies. Some historians study translations as historical source materials. The chapters discuss interesting cross-disciplinary topics including the political effects of language use, such as nation-state building, installing power relations, and religious conversion. Both history scholars conclude that while TS shows interest in history studies, the reverse is less true. The next chapter looks for common ground between TS and information science (IS). IS studies various types of (e.g. cross-language) information retrieval tools, but the authors of this chapter focus on terminology. Consequently, translation is understood in linguistic terms. IS has mostly developed its own concepts and methods, or borrowed from technology studies. A fourth chapter deals with TS and communication studies (CS). Both authors agree that CS could benefit from TS in many respects, mostly when dealing with international, cross-cultural communication. The following chapter discusses TS and sociology. Once more, the authors acknowledge that TS has integrated many aspects of social studies while there does not (yet) exist an empirical sociology applied to the specific context of translation. In chapter six, TS meets cognitive neurosciences in terms of information processing. Interestingly, the shift from the narrow, literal definition of linguistic translation to its wider, metaphorical definition of context-dependent meaning-making process challenges not only cognitive neurosciences, but also computer sciences and computational linguistics, especially when researchers attempt to automate natural language use. The widening of the semantic field of the term “translation,” from a strictly linguistic matter to an intercultural communication issue, is generally ascribed to the “cultural turn” that took place in TS in the 1970s and 1980s. Biosemiotics, which is discussed in the next chapter, inflates the semantic field of the word “translation” even more. Here the term “translation” refers to “the processes by which meaning is created in living systems” (p. 169). The question of whether it is beneficial for TS to adopt such a wide definition remains a matter of contention. Chapter eight tackles the relations between TS and adaptation studies. Contrary to what the cultural turn did with the definition of translation, literary film scholars narrow down the denomination “adaptation studies” to mean “literary film adaptation studies” (LFAS). In …