1st Edition

Relevance Theory in Translation and Interpreting A Cognitive-Pragmatic Approach

By Fabrizio Gallai Copyright 2023
    278 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book illustrates the potential of Relevance Theory (RT) in offering a cognitive-pragmatic, cause-effect account of translation and interpreting (T&I), one which more closely engages T&I activity with the mental processes of speakers, listeners, writers, and readers during communicative acts.

    The volume provides an overview of the cognitive approach to communication taken by RT, with a particular focus on the distinction between explicit and implicit content and the relationship between thoughts and utterances. The book begins by outlining key concepts and theory in RT pragmatics and charting the development of their disciplinary relationship with work from T&I studies. Chapters draw on practical examples from a wide range of T&I contexts, including news media, scientific materials, literary translation, audiovisual translation, conference interpreting, and legal interpreting. The book also explores the myriad applications of RT pragmatics-inspired work and future implications for translation and interpreting research.

    This volume will be of interest to scholars in T&I studies and pragmatics.


    List of abbreviations




    PART I

    1 Gricean pragmatics: Meaning more than we say

    1.1 Introduction

    1.2 What pragmatics aims to explain

    1.2.1 Sentence, utterance, proposition

    1.2.2 Truth value and truth condition

    1.2.3 The notion of context

    1.3 Gricean theory of meaning and implicature

    1.3.1 Types of meaning

    1.3.2 Saying and implicating

    1.3.3 The co-operative principle and its conversational maxims

    1.4 Critical voices on Grice’s model

    1.5 Summary

    1.6 Food for thought

    1.6.1 Further reading

    1.6.2 Review questions

    1.6.3 Exercises

    2 Relevance Theory: A cognitive approach to pragmatics

    2.1 Introduction

    2.2 Relevance, cognition, and communication

    2.2.1 Relevance as a psychological property: Effects and effort

    2.2.2 Two principles: Maximising and optimising relevance

    2.3 The relevance-guided heuristic in (language) comprehension

    2.3.1 A path of least effort and then stop

    2.3.2 Explicatures

    2.3.3 Only one type of implicature

    2.3.4 Overall comprehension heuristic

    2.4 The distinction between conceptual and procedural encodings

    2.4.1 Procedural constraints on the inferential phase of comprehension

    2.4.2 Discourse markers and perspective dependance

    2.5 Descriptive vs interpretive utterances

    2.6 Criticisms

    2.7 Summary

    2.8 Food for thought

    2.8.1 Further reading

    2.8.2 Review questions

    2.8.3 Exercises


    3 A relevance-theoretic model of translation

    3.1 Introduction: pragmatics and translation (and interpreting) studies

    3.2 Gutt’s approach to translation

    3.2.1 Translation as an act of interlingual interpretive use

    3.2.2 Indirect vs direct translation

    3.2.3 Shared communicative clues

    3.2.4 Cognitive environments

    3.3 Translator decision-making processes

    3.3.1 Assessing communicabilty

    3.3.2 Adjusting the content or the Interpretation?

    3.3.3 Monitoring resemblance relations

    3.3.4 Coordinating intentions and expectations of resemblance 

    3.3.5 Modelling translators’ competence

    3.4 Applications of Gutt’s model in translation studies

    3.4.1 The effort-effect relation

    3.4.2 The role of conceptual and procedural encodings

    3.4.3 Translation competence acquisition: the role of metacognition

    3.4.4 Explicitation and explicitness

    3.4.5 Style and figurative language

    3.4.6 Irony, jokes and wordplay

    3.4.7 Audiovisual translation

    3.5 Interdisciplinary methods of analysis

    3.5.1 Comprehension by ST and TT viewers

    3.5.2 Sci-tech translation

    3.5.3 Translators’ metacommunicative and metapsychological processes

    3.5.4 Post-editing machine translation

    3.6 Criticisms

    3.7 Summary

    3.8 Food for thought

    3.8.1 Further reading

    3.8.2 Review questions

    3.8.3 Exercises

    4 Relevance Theory and Interpreting Studies

    4.1 Introduction: interpreting and its bewildering complexity

    4.2 Early cognitive models in interpreting studies

    4.3 Relevance Theory and simultaneous interpreting

    4.3.1 Setton’s mental model

    4.3.2 The quest for optimal relevance

    4.3.3 Enrichment in simultaneous interpreting

    4.3.4 Explicitation

    4.3.5 The multimedia environment in in-vision sign language interpreting

    4.3.6 Addition of discourse markers in European Parliament speeches

    4.4 Insights into consecutive interpreting

    4.4.1 A relevance-theoretic approach to note-taking

    4.4.2 Maximizing and/or optimizing quality in CSI

    4.4.3 Reducing and focusing cognitive overload

    4.4.4 Procedural elements in consecutive interpreting

    4.5 Dialogue interpreting and Relevance Theory

    4.5.1 Mutual accessibility of contextual assumptions

    4.5.2 Gallai: The illusion of an ‘invisible’ interpreter

    4.5.3 Discourse markers in war crime trials

    4.5.4 The relevance and metarelevance in interpreter-mediated courtroom proceedings

    4.5.5 Relevance and metarelevance of  interpreting sequences in police interviews

    4.5.6 Modelling courtroom interpreters’ competence: The role of clues

    4.5.7 The effects of the verbalization of interpreters’ inferences

    4.6 Critical voices

    4.7 Summary

    4.8 Food for thought

    4.8.1 Further reading

    4.8.2 Review questions

    4.8.3 Exercises


    5 Relevance Theory in context: Theoretical implications and practical applications

    5.1 Introduction

    5.2 Theoretical implications

    5.2.1 A unified definition of T&I

    5.2.2 Interdisciplinary perspectives

    5.3 Testing Relevance Theory in mediated communication

    5.3.1 Expanding methodologies: triangulation

    5.3.2 Integrating product and process

    5.3.3 Experimental testing

    5.4 Issues in translation and interpreting practitioner (and service user) training and practice

    5.4.1 Meta-/cross-pragmatic competence as a mental faculty

    5.4.2 Ensuring quality: interpretive resemblance plus relevance

    5.4.3 Implicit and explicit competence

    5.4.4 The role of clues and procedural meaning

    5.4.5 Cognitive efficiency

    5.4.6 Monitoring skills

    5.4.7 Language proficiency enhancement

    5.4.8 Ethical implications

    5.5 Summary

    6 Future directions

    6.1 Introduction

    6.2 The quest for unitary, Relevance Theory-oriented models of translation and interpreting

    6.3 Promoting interchange between descriptive and applied relevance-theoretic pragmatics

    6.4 Conclusion

    Glossary on key notions of Relevance Theory and Relevance Theory-oriented translation and interpreting studies




    Dr Fabrizio Gallai is research fellow and lecturer at the UniversitaÌ degli Studi Internazionali - UNINT in Rome. He is the author of a range of articles on translation and interpreting and cognitive pragmatics (Relevance Theory), including the chapter on "Cognitive pragmatics and translation studies" in The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Pragmatics.

    1. "This book stands out as a felicitous combination of explaining the significance of Relevance Theory for translation and interpreting and of providing a wide-ranging overview of its application in practice over the last three decades." -- Dr Ernst-August Gutt, author of Translation and Relevance: Communication and Cognition.
    2. "Those considering the central problems of translation and interpreting inevitably confront the elusive nature of meaning in human communication. Relevance Theory offers a key to this door: Gallai turns the key. Informed and informative, theoretical and applied, this work is set to make a distinctive contribution to the field." -- Professor Graham H. Turner, Heriot-Watt University, UK.
    3. "Gallai’s book provides a clear and thorough account of a relevance-theoretic approach to translation and interpreting. A perfect example of research in translation and interpreting studies giving a central place to professional practice, which will be welcomed by translation/interpreting trainees, practitioners and theorists alike." -- Professor Federica Scarpa, University of Trieste, Italy.
    4. "Gallai’s volume provides a theoretically solid and empirically supported account of the complexity of translators’/interpreters’ cognitive processing mechanisms from the perspective of cognitive pragmatics. He shows how translators and interpreters get close to communicators’ intentions, illustrating the explanatory potential of Relevance Theory. This long-awaited volume on the intersection between Relevance Theory and translation and interpreting studies is a vital resource for researchers and students." -- Ryoko Sasamoto, Associate Professor, Dublin City University.
    5. "In the first full-length relevance-theoretic study of translation and interpreting in twenty years, Gallai takes us a step closer to understanding the subtler features of live, situated speech and the challenges and arts of interpreting. The author makes a persuasive case for an extended interdisciplinary prism, both theoretically and methodologically, to integrate the cognitive and social dimensions of complex mediated encounters, notably in the charged settings of public service interpreting." -- Professor Robin Setton, (formerly) GITIS (Taipei), SISU (Shanghai) and ETI (Geneva).