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- The Name And Nature Of Translation Studies
- The Name and Nature of Translation Studies by James Holmes
- What is Translation Studies?
The Name And Nature Of Translation Studies
Plus d'informations. This paper offers an overview of the development of Legal Translation Studies as a major interdiscipline within Translation Studies. It reviews key elements that shape its specificity and constitute the shared ground of its research community: object of study, place within academia, denomination, historical milestones and key approaches.
The focus is placed on commonalities as a means to identify distinctive reference points and avenues for further development. Analyzing the applicability of these models and their impact on legal translation quality is considered a priority in order to reinforce interdisciplinary specificity in line with professional needs. After decades of consolidation and expansion, Translation Studies TS is experiencing a marked trend towards increasing specialization by area of practice and research see, for example, Brems, Meylaerts et al.
An initial emphasis on building self-assertive conceptual models beyond linguistic-oriented theories paved the way for more sophisticated approaches to specific branches of translation in contact with other disciplines. It is through the shared concern with communication that other disciplines engage with translation; in turn, the need to grasp and convey nuances ultimately lead translators and TS scholars to enrich their analytical models with insights from the domains that underpin specialized discourses.
This has been the case of legal translation over the last three decades, to the point that, as few would question nowadays, Legal Translation Studies LTS has become one of the most prominent fields within TS. LTS will be understood here as an inter discipline concerned with all aspects of translation of legal texts, including processes, products and agents.
Linguistic mediation between legal systems or within multilingual legal contexts such as international or multilingual national systems and the academic study of such mediation require the coherent integration of concepts from TS, Linguistics as drawn upon through TS and Law. Without these elements, it can be argued that legal translation as a problem-solving activity would be an unreliable exercise, and LTS would not stand where it stands today.
New disciplines emerge not only as knowledge grows and spreads but also as power relations and reputations change within academia. Historically, new disciplines have often emerged at the interface of existing ones, and so at first they inevitably have the nature of interdisciplines. Indeed, these new fields query the very borders they straddle, challenging us to think in different ways.
Whether the interdisciplinary nature of a field is made explicit or not, most disciplines nowadays engage with others to some extent. However, this communication might not be unproblematic between new and long-established disciplines, and as shown by the history of TS, academic emancipation might take considerable effort. Even if this process is still relatively recent, and full recognition is yet to be achieved in some academic constituencies, LTS has clearly benefited from the consolidation of TS in general.
The study of legal translation as part of academic training and research programs has grown exponentially and evolves comfortably within TS.
In the next sections, we will focus on the key elements that shape the identity of LTS today: object of study, place within academia, denomination and historical evolution. For young and dynamically-changing disciplines, this kind of stocktaking exercise can be particularly useful and even a necessity. Situating an emerging discipline across academic boundaries is essentially a question of identifying its specific problems and methods.
In the case of LTS, the consideration of legal translation as a category in its own right has been rarely challenged in the past few decades Harvey , Mayoral Asensio However, models based on situational elements understandably offer further subdivisions. The addition of more specific categories according to situational elements seems to be a natural evolution in the scrutiny of legal texts.
On the one hand, the blend of functions in legal texts for example, judgements with a normative value in common law systems and their high degree of intertextuality with the typical role of written sources of law as primary references in language use across legal text typologies call for further differentiation. On the other hand, what matters most for legal translation is the characterization of groups of texts corresponding to specific varieties or styles of legal language, and this is generally a question of text producers and purposes in communicative situations.
Texts drafted by legislators, judges, scholars or notaries on a particular aspect of probate law, for example, will share key concepts and phraseology the legislative text normally conditioning and impregnating the other uses , but purposes and discursive conventions will certainly vary by text type.
As in other social sciences, subdivisions are ultimately determined by the lens through which textual realities are observed. In turn, legal text typologies comprise a variety of legal genres and subgenres for example, different kinds of contracts. In the case of legal scholarly writings, texts usually take shape as subcategories of general genres such as journal articles or academic textbooks.
They are not always addressed to legal experts for example, a press report on the details of a particular legal reform, comparable to a report on economic affairs written by an economist , and their stylistic features can be rather heterogeneous, but they all share a minimum degree of thematic specialization in descriptive and argumentative functions.
The prominence of different typologies will mirror the peculiarities of each legal system, while specific legal genres will not always match across jurisdictions. Overall, the more specific the categorization gets textual function, text type and genre , the more layers of information are activated on discursive conventions, but also the less universal and the more culture-bound those layers become. Beyond the differences between categorization models, there is consensus around the hybridity of legal texts, which reflects the high interdisciplinarity of law in dealing with all aspects of life.
A piece of legislation on financial products, an agreement on the provision of chemical engineering services or an arbitration award on the conditions of trade within the shipbuilding industry will require research on technicalities associated with other specializations. While thematic crossings between fields in different branches of law and legal settings are countless, those encountered in the area of business and finance are traditionally highlighted to illustrate how often two specializations can merge in specific texts; and this can result in the classification of legal texts with predominantly non-legal specialist language under other branches of translation.
However, in the examples provided, the text would remain of a legal nature and the subject of legal translation, as would be the case in instances where legal discursive features are minimal for example, in certain private legal instruments or intentionally tempered with non-specialist discourse for example, through plain language movements. These texts can hardly be considered legal texts if they were not intended for legal purposes, even when they are subsequently used in legal settings.
For instance, a personal letter or a scientific report which becomes evidence in court proceedings could be translated by a legal translator or be required for certified or sworn translation, but this would not make them legal texts, as claimed by some authors Abdel Hadi 47, Harvey This distinction helps to delimit the boundaries of legal translation: as opposed to the latter texts, private legal instruments prepared by laypersons, even if more unpredictable in style than other legal text types, include certain performative discourse features in more or less formal provisions, and tend to follow certain legal genre conventions with frequent influences from professional legal models.
Legal texts constitute or apply instruments governing public or private legal relations including codified law, case-law and contracts , or give formal expression to specialized knowledge on legal aspects of such instruments and relations;.
These functions follow certain linguistic patterns that are characteristic of varieties of legal language in different discursive situations, allowing for the identification of legal text types according to text producers and purposes , as well as legal genres according to more specific textual functions and conventions ;. Legal texts can also contain a great amount of specialized language from non-legal fields covered by law, while legal scholarly writings comprise a wide range of subcategories of general genres such as journal articles and textbooks.
Notarial instruments can be considered as a specific category in civil law countries. Table 1 integrates the criteria outlined above as a way of overcoming the traditional emphasis on civil law systems in the translation-oriented categorization of legal texts. Despite differences in the relevance and legal effects of particular text types by legal system, and despite the difficulty in proposing comprehensive categorization models, it is most useful to situate specific genres within general text types in order to better frame the comparison of discursive features.
For instance, the lawmaking role played by judicial decisions in common law countries cannot be equated with that of most judicial rulings in civil law systems, and their discursive features vary by genre and jurisdiction. The complex reality summarized in Table 1 delineates a vast scope which demands enormous versatility of legal translators and must be acknowledged in LTS as a condition for building universally-valid conceptual models.
LTS scholars have often focused on particular legal relations and text types predominantly legislative as a basis for generalizations on legal translation. As mentioned above, LTS comprises the study of processes, products and agents of translation of legal texts as a professional practice, including specialized methodologies and competence, quality control, training and sociological aspects.
Disciplinary boundaries of LTS . LTS builds on the core concepts of TS theories common to all translation specializations, including all aspects of translation methodology, that is, declarative and operative knowledge of the translation process and problem-solving procedures translation-oriented analysis, translation strategies and competence.
These concepts and metalanguage lie at the heart of any branch of translation as subject of study, including LTS. In turn, in developing its own communicative, cultural and cognitive approaches, among others, TS has drawn on notions from Communication Studies, Cultural Studies and Psychology, while studies in Translation Pedagogy, Translation Sociology and Translation Technology emerge as a result of crossings with other disciplines.
However, the major neighboring discipline from which TS has borrowed most heavily is Linguistics, particularly subfields or approaches within the realm of Applied Linguistics which offer relevant variables on language use and tools for translation-oriented and contrastive analysis: Text Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Contrastive Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics, Terminology, Pragmatics, etc.
LTS marries such insights to legal theory and practice in the dissection of legal discourses, terminology, genres and texts for translation from a TS perspective. It is in the interface between TS with its diverse influences and Law that LTS finds its natural place in the academic landscape.
LTS crucially relies on networks of legal knowledge in order to build interdisciplinary theories and methods. Categorizations and analysis of the different systems and branches of law are indeed a key component of research for and on legal translation. In the case of international law, translation plays a central role in rendering legal instruments multilingual in institutional settings, which attracts considerable attention in LTS, as has been traditionally the case with multilingual national systems.
In the scrutiny of the different branches of law for translation purposes, Legal Hermeneutics and Comparative Law stand out for their functionality: they offer useful techniques for the interpretation of legal texts and for the contrastive analysis of legal concepts and sources across systems. Legal comparative methodology has proved particularly relevant to legal translation, and its importance for LTS is nowadays uncontested see section 4. Even if the purposes of legal comparative practice and legal translation practice are different shedding light on legal issues as opposed to applying adequate translation techniques , both share the same interest in deconstructing semantic elements in their legal contexts in order to determine degrees of correspondence for decision-making see, for example, works by legal experts De Groot , Sacco , Vanderlinden , Brand A mutually instrumental relationship can be identified: comparative methods are paramount in linguistic mediation between legal systems, while translation is often necessary in the comparison of such systems by legal experts see, for example, De Groot The interdisciplinary concern with legal language is shared by the adjacent field of Legal Linguistics, which analyzes features of legal discourses at large, including comparative studies in Contrastive Legal Linguistics see, for example, Mattila , but lacks the distinctive TS core of LTS.
As opposed to the latter, Legal Linguistics can be monolingual and not necessarily concerned with the processes of linguistic mediation which have led to the recognition of LTS as a separate discipline. Although the distinction between Legal Linguistics and LTS is already well-established in parallel to the distinction between Linguistics and TS , their shared interest in legal language explains the overlap of certain definitions and denominations, particularly in French.
It was defined as follows:. In any case, the debate on the overlap between Legal Linguistics linguistique juridique and LTS traductologie juridique should not hinder the distinction between these complementary sister interdisciplines and their denominations. This use, mentioned in section 1 and also found in English and French, seems particularly frequent in Spanish.
Even if these names are all compatible, and different culture-bound scholarly labels are a healthy sign of academic diversity, the consolidation of uniform denominations for LTS in line with its status within TS would contribute to its clear identification and further cohesion. Let us briefly delve into the historical evolution which has led to the position of LTS outlined above. Rather than an exhaustive review of approaches and authors, an overview will be outlined with focus on major stages and illustrative markers of development.
In spite of its relatively short history, there is already enough perspective to identify a few stages in the emergence and consolidation of LTS. Its recognition as academic field has been associated with that of TS in general since the s, and stimulated by the school of Jurilinguistics in Canada. Legal experts such as Pigeon , also from Canada, and De Groot contributed to the debate on the implications of incongruities between legal systems for legal translation, and vindicated the relevance of functional equivalence and comparative legal methods, respectively.
After this initial period of increasing focus on specific issues and transition from traditional theories, LTS entered into a crucial stage in the mids as a result of several converging factors. In spite of differences between their approaches, they all analyze features of legal language and translation problems resulting from conceptual incongruency, taking pragmatic and legal considerations into account, and defending the active role of the legal translator.
These theories contributed to further defining the scope and academic profile of the field, and have inspired many contemporary researchers and translators. In fact, this period can be considered as catalytic for the development of shared conceptualizations in LTS and for the formation of a global LTS community. This was favored by two additional factors: 1 the use of new electronic communication media, which gradually made the dissemination of research results much more dynamic and accessible, as opposed to the slower-moving and geographically-limited expansion in the initial period; and 2 the flourishing of TS in general, with the proliferation of academic programs including legal translation and the exponential increase in the number of researchers in LTS.
Equally receptive to these theories, Peter Sandrini and Roberto Mayoral Asensio should also be mentioned as major proponents of LTS applied research in the German-speaking countries and in the Spanish context over the same period, especially for their work on comparative analysis of legal terminology Sandrini a, b and the translation of official documents Mayoral Asensio The subsequent introduction of a legal translation specialization at postgraduate level today MA in and the abovementioned conference the same year also illustrate the new momentum in LTS.
Since the mids, a growing constellation of researchers have continued to expand the interdiscipline by applying cross-cultural paradigms to different branches of law, legal genres and settings in many jurisdictions and languages, and by broadening cross-cutting topics, such as specific competence models, pedagogical issues, or the use of corpora and new resources in legal translation for example, Biel More interestingly, the relationship between legal translation and comparative law is being further advanced from an LTS perspective see, for example, Engberg and Pommer , while legal experts such as Ost and Glanert have recently acknowledged the new status of TS and the relevance of its paradigms in studying processes of legal convergence.
The intensification of scholarly work in LTS is reaching areas where the impact of previous academic advances has been more limited to date. The remarkable expansion of LTS in the past three decades explains the keen interest in stocktaking that has motivated this paper. The intersection between linguistic and legal analysis for translation has been a research continuum and a driving feature in that process of fertilization, reshaped by the assimilation of new TS approaches.
The complementary nature of various classifications has been highlighted and a conciliatory approach proposed in which the combination of legal functions, themes and discursive situations serves to determine the legal nature of a text and to cluster linguistic features by text types and genres.
This multidimensional categorization, permeable as it must remain to the dynamic and hybrid reality of texts and discourses, provides predictable criteria to outline the scope of legal translation and to avoid questionable generalizations on it.
Legal translation theories are being applied to multiple corpora of legal texts and mediation contexts around the world, and there is still much to be done in order to shed light on specific genres and translation problems at both national and international levels. Although this might cause some overlaps and a certain sense of fragmentation, such studies are essential to stimulate good practices and further research on existing problems and emerging needs, as apparent in the multiple training, sociological or technological issues being addressed in LTS.
Most approaches converge on the need to integrate legal theories and comparative legal analysis into legal translation methodology as a hallmark of the field. Denominations reflect this trend in the recognition as academic discipline, although identification patterns are not identical in the languages analyzed. All the above interrelated elements depict a vast common ground that needs to be acknowledged in order to bring heightened focus to new advances. Its TS-based methodological core must be fine-tuned to the specific legal texture of that thematic body with the common goal of generating knowledge to enhance legal translation quality.
In a context of rapid expansion, it is indeed worth ensuring that research on legal translation methodology progresses by keeping the forest, and not just its trees, in sight. Such research on professional problem-solving fits a paradigm in which observation and experimentation yield results for improving the observed practice.
The Name and Nature of Translation Studies by James Holmes
Plus d'informations. This paper offers an overview of the development of Legal Translation Studies as a major interdiscipline within Translation Studies. It reviews key elements that shape its specificity and constitute the shared ground of its research community: object of study, place within academia, denomination, historical milestones and key approaches. The focus is placed on commonalities as a means to identify distinctive reference points and avenues for further development. Analyzing the applicability of these models and their impact on legal translation quality is considered a priority in order to reinforce interdisciplinary specificity in line with professional needs. After decades of consolidation and expansion, Translation Studies TS is experiencing a marked trend towards increasing specialization by area of practice and research see, for example, Brems, Meylaerts et al.
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Translation Studies is the field of study that deals with the theory, description, and application of translation. Because it examines translation not only as interlingual transfer but also as intercultural communication, it can also be described as an interdiscipline which touches on other diverse fields of knowledge, including comparative literature, cultural studies, gender studies, computer science, history, linguistics, philosophy, rhetoric, and semiotics. Translation Studies is often paired with Interpreting, although the two are distinct fields. Although translators from the Romans have had much to say about the theory and practice of translation, it was not until the twentieth century that Translation Studies emerged as a formal academic discipline. Translation Studies entails the systematic examination of translation both as an applied practice and also as a means of understanding the movement and transfer between diverse languages and cultures.
What is Translation Studies?
We have also added new Featured Authors and included more links to lectures. Subtitling: Concepts and Practices second edition coming in December ! The Resources with newly added titles including Translation Resources tab offers students a wide range of learning materials, from fully interactive companion websites to glossaries of key terms, extensive further reading lists and downloadable podcasts.