LINGUIST List 21.4838|
Thu Dec 02 2010
Review: Translation: Baker and Saldanha (2008)
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1. Jonathan Downie ,
Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition
Message 1: Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition
From: Jonathan Downie <jonathan_downieyahoo.com>
Subject: Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition
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Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/21/21-1815.html
EDITORS: Mona Baker, Gabriela Saldanha
TITLE: Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Jonathan Downie, PhD student, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
Since its first publication in 1998, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation
Studies has been the standard reference work in the discipline. Leading scholars
in a variety of sub-disciplines, from conference interpreting to machine
translation, contributed articles that allowed readers to gain a basic knowledge
of current scholarship while whetting their appetite for more in-depth study.
Now, more than ten years later, Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha have compiled
an updated and expanded volume whose Bibliography alone runs to an impressive
100 pages. While the price tag may put off all but the most determined of new
students, this second edition will ensure that the Routledge Encyclopedia of
Translation Studies continues to be valued as the leading single volume summary
of the field for years to come.
The need for this revision is obvious when we take account of the transformation
of the discipline in the past decade. New areas of study, such as Gender and
Sexuality, Globalisation and Cultural Translation have come to the fore.
Meanwhile, the more traditional sub-disciplines of Conference Interpreting,
Translation History and Norms have embraced greater interdisciplinarity.
Similarly, technological developments have brought new impetus to Corpus-based
studies, Computer-Aided Translation and Machine Translation.
These changes are reflected in the growth of the number of articles available in
this volume. Interpreting, for example, is now represented by articles on Court
Interpreting, Dialogue Interpreting and Community Interpreting alongside two
articles on conference interpreting. The History and Traditions section now
includes an article on Southeast Asian traditions and would have included more
new articles if contributions had arrived (p. xxii).
Changes in related fields and professional practice are also represented by new
and revised articles. New articles on Globalisation and Localisation illustrate
the ubiquity of both concepts in the discussion of both literary and
non-literary translation. Similarly, the growing interest in the political and
(inter)personal aspects of translation are reflected in articles on Mobility,
Censorship and Gender and Sexuality. The Encyclopedia of Translation Studies
therefore reflects the growing trend towards increased interdisciplinarity.
This revision has managed to increase what was already an impressive subject
range. Thankfully, this has not lead to a reduction in the depth of scholarship.
Without exception, all of the new articles reflect the excellence that was the
hallmark of the first edition. The article on Localisation (pp. 157-161), with
its precise summaries of the Origins of the practice, the Processes involved and
current research trajectories, is a stunning example of just how useful these
new articles will be.
To organise such a wealth of material, the editors have chosen to retain the
two-part structure used in the first edition. The first and largest section is
entitled ''General'' and includes articles on subjects ranging from Advertising to
Universals, listed in alphabetical order according to article title. The authors
of the articles have been deliberately chosen for their expertise. Translation
scholars old and new will recognise the names of Ubaldo Stecconi (writing on
Semiotics), Ian Mason (on Dialogue Interpreting) and Dorothy Kenny (on the use
The second part of this volume looks in detail at the diverging histories and
traditions of translation in different geographical locations. Again,
internationally recognised experts have been called upon to contribute material.
Here, for example, Theo Hermans, Gideon Toury and Jean Delisle all feature,
giving us an insight into Dutch, Israeli and Canadian traditions respectively.
While the perspectives of such well-respected figures in Translation Theory
bring an air of credibility to the book, it would be a mistake for any reader to
take their opinions as gospel and there is indeed evidence of bias in places. It
is unsurprising, for example, that Juliane House should conclude that her own
model of quality is the superior one. It is however disappointing that she
should do so while making so little room for the questions and criticisms of her
view. She concludes, for instance that any perceived issues with her model
derive from the inherent complexity of the task of measuring translation
quality, rather than from the model itself (cf. p. 225). However, Williams'
(2001: 335) view, for example, that her model does not actually offer any
grounds for overall quality judgments would suggest that this is not the case.
A similar charge could be levelled against Lawrence Venuti, who draws on his own
binary distinction between ''domestication'' and ''foreignisation'' in his
evaluation of American translation traditions as if they were entirely
unproblematic notions. Experienced researchers might recall appeals against such
simplistic dichotomies (e.g. Pym 1997: 39; Nord  2007: 29 etc.) given the
inherent complexities of translation. Newcomers to the field, however, will
remain in the dark and may conclude that splitting all translational decisions
into two opposing categories is an acceptable analytical tool.
Perhaps the most obvious instance of bias is found in Roger Ellis and Liz
Oakley-Brown's article on the British Tradition (pp. 344-353), which gives a
very one-dimensional view of how the discipline has progressed in the UK. As the
authors themselves admit, it concentrates on the traditions of one part of
Britain only, at the expense of what the authors term the ''fringes'' (p. 344).
The article thus ignores the contribution of Scotland and Wales to British
translation theory and practice, except where scholars from these areas crop up
in the English literary tradition. The contribution of the Makars, Scottish
poets whose work includes the first literary translation in any Anglic language,
is therefore entirely left out.
The world of non-literary translation is also relegated to half a paragraph in
this article. In contrast with the articles on the Spanish or Israeli
traditions, among others, readers will therefore find scant mention of
translator training and the institutes who offer it. The place, history and
importance of Britain's translation and interpreting associations as well as the
history of interpreting in Britain is also left out, as is any attempt to
describe the current state of the profession in the UK.
In the context of the increasing interest in the intersection between
translation, colonialism and minority, this article would seem to be somewhat
anachronistic. Hopefully future editions will correct this by either adding
articles on Scottish, Welsh and Non-Literary translation in the UK or by
correcting the imbalance of focus of the current text.
It would, however, be unfair to use this one article as a reason not to
recommend this book, especially given the high quality of work in evidence
elsewhere. Maeve Olohan's brief article on Commercial Translation (pp. 40-42),
for instance, presents useful accounts of several theoretical advances towards
increasing our understanding of the importance of work outside literary and
religious sectors. This article will therefore act as a useful source of
inspiration for researchers seeking theoretically sound ways of examining the
work of professional translators.
Anthony Pym is also at his informative and thought-provoking best in his
description of the history and current trajectory of Spanish Translation
traditions (pp. 533-542). He manages to cover literary and non-literary work,
historical and modern approaches, training and professional issues and does so
while including examples of work in Catalan, Castilian, Basque, Galician and
even Arabic and Latin. This article therefore shows that even within the
restricted space of a single article, it is possible to cover an impressive
breadth of material and yet still offer useful depth.
Cecilia Wadensjö's article on Community Interpreting (pp. 43-48) also deserves
praise for meeting the challenge of reconciling scope and space requirements. In
the equivalent of 5 pages, she manages to cover the history of this activity
(pp. 43-44), the differences between community interpreting and other forms of
interpreting (p. 44), training and accreditation issues (pp. 44-46) and current
research trajectories (pp. 46-48). The thread running through all of these areas
is the willingness for researchers to, in her words ''link research, training and
practical concerns'' (p. 48).
The editors are therefore to be congratulated for once again bringing together
such a distinguished group of scholars and such a wide range of material. There
simply is no other single volume that offers such a panoramic view of the field
or such a diverse range of contributors. The editors also deserve praise for
noticing the need for a revised edition and doing their best to ensure that it
reflects the significant changes in the discipline in the past decade.
In conclusion, this book will surely be seen as worthy to inherit the respected
place of its predecessor. As a general reference work and introduction to the
field, it is without equal. However, as with all literature, readers should not
simply take everything that is written at face value. Critical thought and an
eye for omissions are required due to the instances of bias in this work, which
are always likely with a project of this scale and scope. Despite this and
despite its high price, it is still ''an essential reference book and starting
point for anyone interested in translation studies'' (back cover).
Nord, Christiane, Translation as a Purposeful Activity, Translation Theories
Explained, Manchester, United Kingdom, St. Jerome, [1997, 2001] 2007.
Pym, Anthony, Pour Une Éthique de Traducteur, Artois Presse Université, 1997.
Williams, Malcolm, ''The Application of Argumentation Theory to Translation
Quality Assessment,'' in Meta : journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators'
Journal, vol. 46(2), 2001, p. 326-344. Available online from:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Jonathan Downie is currently a PhD student at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is also a professional conference interpreter and translator working in religious, legal and general commercial fields. His research interests include all matters around interpreting in Church and cross-modal comparative studies. His current work centres on helping speakers and interpreters work more effectively together.
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