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Review of Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition
EDITORS: Mona Baker, Gabriela Saldanha TITLE: Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, 2nd Edition PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis) YEAR: 2008
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 of Corpora).
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: http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/004605ar.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
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.