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Comptes rendus

Beeby, A., D. Ensinger and M. Presas (2000) (eds.): Investigating Translation, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, Benjamins Translation Library, vol. 32, xiii+294.

  • Bassey E. Antia

…plus d’informations

  • Bassey E. Antia
    University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Nigeria

Corps de l’article

This book is a selection of papers presented at the 4th International Congress on Translation, which was held in Barcelona in 1998. The book is in some sense an account of Translation Studies these past 25 years, since a conference of the Association internationale de linguistique appliquée helped to put it on the map of Applied Linguistics. The book also provides insight into the research being conducted in Spain, which in the view of one of the non-Spanish contributors can easily stake a claim to being the new reference point in the field. Contributions in the 25-chapter book revolve around one or a number of the following themes: theory, process, ideology and addressee in translation.

A first set of contributions deny the existence or bemoan the absence of a (general) theory of translation, one that integrates all that is currently known into a framework that has explanatory, if not also predictive, capacity as far as translation behavior or product is concerned. There is quite a bit of optimism on this score as witnessed by the proposals towards achieving such a framework.

However, a second set of papers, which investigate the translation process, suggest the tentativeness of any such general theory as there are as yet many unknowns of linguistic mediation in both its oral and written manifestations. The contributions here deal with: desiderata and opportunities in conference interpreting research; concerns about the validity of much of the process data generated from experiments and how new computational tools may improve the match between data and process; the nature of competence presumably underlying successful translation behavior; and how components of this competence may be taught.

In a third set of contributions, ideology in translation is addressed from a variety of interesting perspectives: the paradoxes of feminine identification and the opportunities these paradoxes present for projecting feminine subjectivity in translating and in theory-construction in translation; church censorship of translated film titles; the characteristics of translation as an ancillary to identity (re)construction in Catalonia, in post-Franco Spain; etc.

The addressee in translation comes under focus in a final set of papers. The thrust here is on the means for developing profiles of addresses or frames of addressee-expectations, either for refocusing translator-training programs, or for translating a variety of text types. With respect to the latter, interesting textual implications of the ‘profiling’ are shown. For example, besides many of the obvious points it needs to consider, the translation of advertisements associated with products meant for export would do well to promote or counter target-market stereotypes of the exporting country (e.g. rustic but efficient, not time conscious, etc.).

Theory construction, in the manner in which this desideratum is occasionally framed, is an extremely tall order, particularly when allowance for dynamism appears to be constricted by the assumption that enough is known to form the basis of an adequate theory. A useable theory is likely to be one that maintains some balance between generalization (translation is interlingual communication perceived as successful) and specificity (do’s and don’ts). Every theory is in some sense reductionist, prototypicalizing a subset of the class of phenomena it is to account for. But, soon enough, phenomena initially regarded as marginal become too important to continue to retain that status.

As reflection proceeds on an integrated theory that would be explanatory and predictive of all translation behavior at a level intermediate between generalization and specificity, we would do well to factor in some current and not so current ‘marginal’ translation practices: translating in the software localization industry (where there could be some genuine confusion between translating and parallel authoring, besides other issues), self-translations, translations based on translations, multiple authorship of translated texts, etc. Incidentally, these phenomena are addressed in this book. And of course, the cause of theory-construction would be helped by consistent use of common terms like strategy, method, etc.