LINGUIST List 14.1640

Wed Jun 11 2003

Review: Translation: Anderman & Rogers, ed. (2003)

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  1. Vittoria Prencipe, Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives

Message 1: Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 17:59:13 +0000
From: Vittoria Prencipe <>
Subject: Translation Today: Trends and Perspectives

Anderman, Gunilla and Margaret Rogers, ed. (2003) Translation Today:
Trends and Perspectives, Multilingual Matters.

Announced at

Vittoria Prencipe, Universit� Cattolica ''Sacro Cuore'' di Milano.


This book is the result of a Round Table discussion organized at the
University of Surrey on October 1st, 1999. It consists of a keynote
paper and contributions regarding the eight topics chosen by Peter
Newmark as main translation issues in the new millennium. The book is
divided into two parts: the first part contains Newmark's summary of
his keynote paper, and the discussion. The second part starts with
Newmark's full-length keynote paper, ''No Global Communication Without
Translation'', followed by contributions by participants attending to
symposium. The topics selected by Newmark are ''The nature of
translation'', ''Types and kinds of translation'', ''Valid and
deficient texts'', ''English as the lingua franca of translation'',
''Social translation and interpreting'', ''Later modes of
translation'', ''The assessment of translation'', ''The university and
the market''.

In the first paper Newmark tackles the nature of translation. Anyone,
he says, can immediately define translation as ''taking the meaning
from one text and integrating it into another language for a new and
sometimes different readership'' (p. 55). Such a simple definition
hides two very complex concepts, i.e. ''meaning'' and ''message'',
which determine the kind of translation: a target-oriented one
(''communicative translation''), respecting culture and conventions of
target language (TL), and a source-oriented one, (''semantic
translation''). The paper goes on defining both communicative and
semantic translation, and examining their connections with traditional
categories like literary, non-literary and social translation. Newmark
concludes with a useful overview of the status of Translation Studies.

The following paper, ''Some of Peter Newmark's Translation Categories
Revisited'', by Albrecht Neubert, argues that Newmark's distinction
does not refer to different types of translation, but rather
represents two complementary methods, operating at different levels of
analysis. ''In particular semantic translation highlights the attempt
of the translator to grasp the full meanings expressed in the source
text (SL) and to render as much as possible into the TL version. ...
Communicative translation, by contrast, is not about procedures. Its
conceptual status is on a much higher level of abstraction. Every
text, whether it is a poem or a prosaic message, is a communicative
event. ... All translations, in this sense, are communicative acts.''
(pp. 70-71) According to Neubert, ''communicative'' and ''semantic''
are attributes of translations, but what about the so called ''social
translation''? Neubert doesn't consider it different from any other
kind of translation, since he views social texts in same way as
technical ones. Thus the jargon of social texts doesn't represent a
hindrance to translatability. Finally, translation can achieve
contextualization, because it ''occurs already in the original, with
the translator making expert use of this pervasive feature of
monolingual, in fact all, communication'' (p. 74).

According to Newmark's definition translation is ''a dynamic
reflection of human activity''. In her paper ''Looking Forward to the
Translation: On A Dynamic Reflection of Human Activities'', Kirsten
Malmkj�r attempts to develop this view from the perspective of
philosophical semantics. The ''focus'' of the translation process is
the source text or, better, the creative process which generates
it. This latter element distinguishes translation from monolingual
communication: a translated text is influenced by a source text,
translation is thus constrained communication. Malmkj�r intends both
to underline the common features shared by monolingual and
multilingual communication, and to differentiate the two process. The
common element is that meaning is a function having as arguments the
speakers, the hearer, a time, a place, and a more extensive set of
circumstances. In this view, meaning is used differently by future
users, past users, speakers from various cultures and social classes,
so that a message is always in need of interpretation. The difference
is not simply the use of two or more languages, but the social and
cultural world in which target text hearers live. Thus, translating
means connecting two worlds.

The translation process is submitted to the translator's sensitivity
and experience. In Marshall Morris' paper, ''With Translation in Mind.
Communication precedes language'', translation acts are viewed as a
part of the whole process of communication. Thereby, the fulcrum of
the translation process cannot be the text, but the experience on
which texts are based. In translating, the following points are
essential: (i) the ST ''is only part of a larger use of human
communication; (ii) the translator has to ''come closer to the human
truth of the experience on which the texts are based''; (iii) texts
are answers to questions formulated in the language of some other
person, in some other society, at some other time. The translator
should aim at grasping the human question in the writer's mind, to
follow his logic and understand the sense his text makes; (iv) the
text is only a part of an ongoing relationship; in the context of the
original there was something before and will be something after the
text the translator has in his/her hands; (v) human experiences are
basically the same; ''if translators reflect on these experiences,
keeping translation in mind'', concludes the author , ''I believe they
will find that their understanding is sufficient for the task, and
their experience of translating abundant deeply satisfying''
(p. 89-90).

Raquel Merino's paper, ''Tracing Back (in Awe) a Hundred year History
of Spanish Translations: Washington Irving's The Alhambra'' focuses on
a view of translation as a critical and evaluative product, presenting
a four year research founded on the comparison of the work ''The
Alhambra'' with Spanish translations. The procedure is simple: (i)
compile a bibliographical catalogue of Spanish version of Alhambra
texts, (ii) build up a database containing a corpus of original
editions of the text and a corpus containing its translations, iii)
choose a number of characteristics - the number and sequence of the
tales, the text of selected opening paragraphs, etc. - to use as a
basis of comparison between STs and TTs. The comparison tends to
select adaptive translations, defining what is adaptation.

In Piotr Kuhiwczak's paper ''The troubled Identity of Literary
Translation'', the author compares the translator's task to that of
the writer and of the critic. Traditionally, writing or commenting is
considered more important then translating. But which are the
competences of translators and which is the relation between
translation studies and literary studies? The author points out that
translation is both a creative and critic work, in that it requires
the translator to know the original work, the author, the original
culture, and it requires him to perform a creative effort in rewriting
the source text.

The fulcrum of Gunnar Marguson's paper, ''Interlinear Translation and
Discourse � la Mark Twain'' is Twain's view of German language
compared to English through a word for word translation. This method
has been appropriately described by Newmark. Adopting the same
procedure, Marguson concentrates on the structural differences between
English and German. The paper comes to an end listing the
transformations needed to obtain English texts from German texts, and
proposing another reform: if the capitalisation of nouns were
abolished, German could have ''shorter sentences and more relative
clauses, making it easier for us to steer a correct course through the
German syntactic landscape'' (p. 136).

In his contribution, ''Meaning, Truth and Morality in Translation'',
Martin Weston adopts a meaning-use view on translation. Weston
analyses three models of linguistic translation in which an
''abstract'' meaning is transferred from SL text to TL text. He bases
his critique on the abstractness of this conception and proposes a
more concrete notion of meaning as the use to which language is
put. Thus, the aim of the translator is to look for the equivalent use
of an expression in two or more different language.

Asymmetry in translation strategies is due to the extension of a
specific language. English, for example, is accessible to speakers of
many languages and commonly used in multilingual contexts as a second
language for communication. David Graddol, in his contribution ''The
Decline of Native Speakers'' underlines that the increasing use of
English as ''lingua franca'' decreases the authority of the native
speaker, who, since Chomskian generative grammar, had the difficult
task of safeguarding grammatical ''correctness''.

Can a dominant L2, like English, influence the syntactic construction
and style of other languages? This is the question on which the paper
by Juliane House, ''English as Lingua Franca and its Influence on
Discourse Norm in Other Languages'' is based. It is the result of a
longer research founded on a ''...systemic-functional theory; it
involves reconstructing the cognitive processes involved in producing
translations and parallel texts and describing the embeddedness of
these texts in their sociocultural contexts'' (p. 168). The languages
examined are French, English and Spanish, and texts are scientific,
economic and computer science manuals; the analysis methodology is
Halliday's grammar. The results of comparison show the differences
between the three languages and give some evidence for the existence
of cultural or contextual filters preventing linguistic contamination.

''Multilingualism is not a problem. It is a fact'' (p. 190). This is
the starting point and the conclusion of Ann Corsellis' analysis in
the paper, ''Interpreting and Translation in the UK Public Services:
The Pursuit of Excellence versus, and via, Expediency''. The author
analyses the needs, obstacles and possible solutions for public
services interpreting and translation in the UK. This field does not
receive the appropriate consideration in the UK, as in the other so
called monolingual countries. At the end of her research Corsellis
proposes a particular collaboration between three principal groups:
public service personnel, linguists and the potential users of the
services. This collaboration, however, can only be possible as the
result of the awareness of a monolingual societies turning into a
multilingual one.

''Audiovisual Translation'' is the topic of the next paper
''Audiovisual Translation in the Third Millennium'', by Jorge D�az
Cintas. The aims of audiovisual translation are various and very
different; this contribution focuses on dubbing, voice-over, and
subtitling. An actual revolution in the audiovisual translation was
the introduction of DVD. This new film distribution format can hold
up to eight versions of the same film dubbed into different languages
and some 32 different possibilities for subtitles. ''What is beyond
doubt'' concludes the author ''is that this area of translation is set
to undergo further changes in coming years. At the same time, our
perception of translation as consumers will also
change. ...audiovisual/multimedia translation will be the translation
sub-discipline of this brand new millennium'' (p. 203).

As new modes of translation emerge, the need for more clearly
formulated and uniformly applied methods of assessment of translation
and interpreting competence becomes greater. This is the topic of the
contribution by Stuart Campbell and Sandra Hale, ''Translation and
Interpreting Assessment in the Context of Educational
Measurement''. The authors set out to survey the literature concerned
with research in educational measurement, and in the ways of testing
translators' competences, coming to the conclusion that many of these
competences are quite well verified. However, two of them are absent
from the research literature, validity and reliability. Campbell and
Hale plead for a more valid approach to testing, given that
translation and interpreting are socially very important jobs.

The problem of translator and ethic is the one addressed by Gerard
McAlester in his contribution ''A Comment on Translation Ethics and
Education''. The Translator's Charter (1986) published by the
International Federation of Translators (FIT) prescribes in Clause 3,
that the translator ''shall refuse to give a text an interpretation of
which he does not approve, or which would be contrary to the
obligations of his profession''. But the situation is not so simple:
can the translator gloss historical and authoritative texts or correct
informative texts? The answer can be double: Martin Weston argues that
the translator's commitment is to text, according to McAlester,
instead, it is to his own conscience.


This collection is rich of suggestions for translators, translation
scholars, linguists and literary scholars. The contributions are a
starting point in such a vast field of research, the various themes
being only indicated and not theoretically developed. Bibliography is
up to date and the book can be considered as a useful tool to grasp
the different aspects of TS in contemporary research.


Vittoria Prencipe, Ph.D. works as a postdoctoral researcher in the
field of Translation Studies at the Universit� Cattolica "Sacro
Cuore", Milan (Italy). Her current research deals with the application
of Igor Mel'cuk's model to the field of linguistic translation.
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