LINGUIST List 8.921

Mon Jun 23 1997

Review: Hatim&Mason: Translator as communicator

Editor for this issue: Andrew Carnie <>

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Message 1: Review of _The_Translator_as_Communicator_

Date: Sun, 22 Jun 1997 21:29:28 -0700
From: Richard Tuttle, Language Centre Director <>
Subject: Review of _The_Translator_as_Communicator_

Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason. The Translator as Communicator. London: 
Routledge, 1997. Pp. 244, $65.00Hb, $18.95Pb.

Reviewed by Richard Tuttle <>

Hatim and Mason's The Translator as Communicator offers a unique
argument into the current role of translation studies at the advanced
level. They suggest the current division of the subject into literary
and non-literary, technical and non-technical is quite unhelpful and
very misleading. Moreover, instead of dwelling on these differentials,
academics and professionals alike should focus on a common ground
between these distinctions. Instead of having each separate translator
field -- literary translator, simultaneous interpreter, screen
translator, etc. -- working in different areas, they should work
together and learn from each other, forming a common set of parameters.

To the authors "translating is looked upon as an act of communication
which attempts to relay across cultural and linguistic boundaries
another act of communication..." (1); a fact which they further
supplement with their definition of the task of a translator: "[O]ne
might define the task of the translator as a communicator as being one
of seeking to maintain coherence by striking the appropriate balance
between what is effective ... in a particular environment for a
particular purpose and for particular receivers" (12). Thus through a
series of case studies, Hatim and Mason focus on one particular area of
translation study in each chapter.

After a brief introduction of their thoughts and goals of their
treatise, the actual analysis begins in chapter two which focuses on the
"foundations for a model of analyzing the texts," while chapter three
"interpret[s]: a text [in a] linguistic[ ] approach" focusing on the
application of training interpreters and exploring the areas of common
interest in the processing of texts. In chapter four, "texture in
simultaneous interpreting," is the focus on the constraints associated
with simultaneous interpreting, which follows this approach. 
Next, chapter five, "politeness in screen translating," discusses the
role of film subtitling and designing things for an appropriate
audience; chapter six, "register membership in literary translating,"
has a wonderful section on the use of idiolect and the options
translators have for its use. Chapter seven, "form and function in the
translation of the sacred and sensitive text," contributes to
form-meaning, or expression-function debate, which has been present in
translations studies since antiquity.

Chapter eight, "cross-cultural communication," and chapter nine,
"ideology," could be studied together with the latter focusing on two
divisions of ideology: (1) ideology of translating and (2) translation
of ideology. Chapter ten, "text-level errors," ends the main focus of
the textbook by addressing pedagogical issues via the mishandling of

The final two chapters, eleven -- "curriculum design" -- and twelve --
"assessing performance," centers upon the possible application of text
linguistics to the training of translators and the assessment of a
translator's performance. The first offers an enlightening view of
syllabus design with "the advanced translator trainee" in mind:	 "[the]
basic hypothesis underlying [their] proposed curriculum design is one
which relates the notion of text type to the actual process of
translation and to the translator at work" (181). Hatim and Mason
finish their book with a discussion of the problems with the field of
translation studies now and what is needed to make a marked improvement.

 The Translator as Communicator offers a much-needed look at the status
on the field of translation studies. Hatim and Mason deserve accolades
for writing this work. Its focus is for those who already have, at
minimal, an intermediate knowledge and understanding of translation
theory, though with the aide of the glossary and some in-depth
explanations by an knowledgeable instructor it could be grasped by any
beginning scholar in the field. Hatim and Mason's approach is quite
meaningful and durable, especially in view of recent developments in the
study of translation and communication, and their work will be of an
asset to any scholar or person interested in the field of translation.

[Richard Tuttle, Eastern Washington University]
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