Method in Translation History  book cover
1st Edition

Method in Translation History

ISBN 9781900650120
Published June 17, 2014 by Routledge
234 Pages

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Book Description

Starting from the critical notion that we should be asking questions of contemporary importance - and that 'importance' itself must be defined - Anthony Pym sets about undoing many of the currently dominant models of translation history, positing, among much else, that the object of this history should be translators as people, that researchers are subjectively involved in their object, that cultural systems are based on social will, that translators work in intercultural spaces, and that a model of cooperation through negotiation may be applied to the way translators (and researchers!) work between cultures.

At the same time, the proposed methodology is eminently constructive, showing how many empirical techniques can be developed and applied: clear illustrations are given of corpus selection, working definitions, deceptive statistics, and the construction of networks and regimes, incorporating elaborate examples drawn from medieval and modernist fields, as well as finding space for notes on practical problems like funding research. Finding its focus in historical debates, this book cannot help but create contemporary debate: its arguments seek not only to revitalize the historical study of translation but also to develop the wider concerns of intercultural studies.

Table of Contents

Method in Translation History: Contents



1. History

History within translation studies
The parts of translation history
The interdependence and separateness of the parts
A too-brief history of translation history
Reasons for doing translation history

2. Importance

What is importance?
5Against blithe empiricism
Personal interests
Research and client interests
Subjective interests and humility

3. Lists

Reasons for lists
Getting data
The difference between catalogues and corpora
Shortcomings in bibliographies: four examples
Completeness in history and geology
Sources as shifting sands
The historian as reader of indexes

4. Working definitions

Why some information has to be thrown out
In defence of definitions
Inclusive definitions
Defining translations from paratexts
Corpora of limit cases
How Wagner sneaked in
How Salomé danced out

5. Frequencies

Statistics and importance
Diachronic distribution
Retranslations, reeditions and non-translations
Retranslation and its reasons
A general diachronic hypothesis

6. Networks

Reconstructing networks from within
Mapping networks
Two cheap transfer maps
Lines and symbols
The spatial axis
Cities as borders

7. Norms and systems

Actually reading translations
Leaps of faith
The will to system
Subjectless prose
Where's the gold?

8. Regimes

What are regimes?
Starting from debates
A regime for twelfth-century Toledo
A regime for Castilian protohumanism
A regime for early twentieth-century poetry anthologies
Translation as a transaction cost

9. Causes

Systemic and probabilistic causation
Transfer as material causation
Final causes in theories of systems and actions
Equivalence as formal cause
Translators as efficient cause
Multiple causation

10. Translators

Translators, not 'the translator'
Translators can do more than translate
Translators have personal interests
Translators can move
Translators can go by several names

11. Intercultures

Where intercultures are hidden
Translations or translators?
Strangers and trust
Interculturality and its negation
Intercultural professions as a social context
An alternative basic link
What is a culture?

12. Interdisciplinarity

Personal reasons for pessimism
A lacking discipline
Cultural Studies
Intercultural Studies


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Pym, Anthony


... a provocative and intelligent book which represents a model of excellent scholarship. (Edoardo Crisafulli, Perspectives)

... an invaluable contribution to the discipline, long overdue (Zuzan Jettmarova, Across Languages and Cultures)

... asks many fundamental questions about the present state and future direction of translation theory in addition to being an excellent primmer for research students in translation history. (Michael Cronin, Target)