Translating as a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist Approaches Explained, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Translating as a Purposeful Activity

Functionalist Approaches Explained, 2nd Edition

By Christiane Nord


154 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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This bestselling text is a comprehensive overview of functionalist approaches to translation in English. Christiane Nord, one of the leading figures in translation studies, explains the complexities of theories and terms in simple language with numerous examples. Covering how the theories developed, illustrations of the main ideas, and specific applications to translator training, literary translation, interpreting and ethics, Translating as a Purposeful Activity concludes with a concise review of both criticisms and perspectives for the future. Now with a Foreword by Georges Bastin and a new chapter covering the recent developments and elaborations of the theory, this is an essential text for students of translation studies and for translator training.


"This widely used and highly popular book is back – in revised form. With an added chapter on the spread of functionalism throughout the world and numerous small revisions, it promises to keep functionalism growing. Both students and researchers should find it enlightening and challenging – of both theory and practice."

Kobus Marais, University of the Free State, South Africa

"This timely new edition of Christiane Nord’s landmark work takes functionalist approaches into the next generation. The consideration of recent trends and applications reflects the author’s deep vision and pedagogical talent. The result is a most comprehensive and readable overview for anyone seeking to understand translation as professional communication."

Fernando Prieto Ramos, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Table of Contents


1. Historical Overview

Early Views

Katharina Reiss and the Functional Category of Translation Criticism

Hans J. Vermeer: Skopostheorie and Beyond

Justa Holz-Mänttäri and the Theory of Translational Action

Fuctionalist Methodology in Translator Training

2. Translating and the Theory of Action

Translating as a Form of Translational Interaction

Translating as Intentional Interaction

Translating as Interpersonal Interaction

Translating as a Communicative Action

Translating as Intercultural Action

Translating as a Text-Processing Action

3. Basic Concepts of Skopostheorie

Skopos, Aim, Purpose, Intention, Function and Translation Brief

Intratextual and Intertextual Coherence

The Concept of Culture and Culture-Specificity

Adequacy and Equivalence

The Role of Text Classifications

4. Functionalism in Translator Training

A Translation-Oriented Model of Text Functions

A Functional Typology of Translation

Norms and Conventions in Functional Translation

Source-text Analysis, Translation Briefs and Identifying Translation Problems

A Functional Hierarchy of Translation Problems

Translation Units Revisited

Translation Errors and Translation Evaluation

5. Functionalism in Literary Translation

Actional Aspects of Literary Communication

Literary Communication across Culture Barriers

Skopos and Assignment in Literary Translation

Some examples

6. Functionalism Approaches to Interpreting

The Role of Interpreting in Spokostheorie

Translator Training: From Interpreting t Translation

A Functionalism Approach to Simulteanous Interpreting

7. Criticisms

8. Function plus Loyalty

9. Future Perspectives at the end of the 1990s

10. Skopos Theory and Functionalism in the New Millenium


Bibliographical References

About the Author/Editor

Christiane Nord is Professor Emerita of Translation Studies and Specialized Communication at the University of Applied Sciences of Magdeburg, Germany, and Visiting Professor at several universities of the People’s Republic of China. She also holds the position of Professor Extraordinary and Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Her homepage can be found at

About the Series

Translation Theories Explored

Translation Theories Explored is a series designed to engage with the range and diversity of contemporary translation studies. Translation itself is as vital and as charged as ever. If anything, it has become more plural, more varied and more complex in today\'s world. The study of translation has responded to these challenges with vigour. In recent decades the field has gained in depth, its scope continues to expand and it is increasingly interacting with other disciplines. The series sets out to reflect and foster these developments. It aims to keep track of theoretical developments, to explore new areas, approaches and issues, and generally to extend and enrich the intellectual horizon of translation studies. Special attention is paid to innovative ideas that may not as yet be widely known but deserve wider currency.

Individual volumes explain and assess particular approaches. Each volume combines an overview of the relevant approach with case studies and critical reflection, placing its subject in a broad intellectual and historical context, illustrating the key ideas with examples, summarizing the main debates, accounting for specific methodologies, achievements and blind spots, and opening up new perspectives for the future. Authors are selected not only on their close familiarity and personal affinity with a particular approach but also on their capacity for lucid exposition, critical assessment and imaginative thought. The series is aimed at researchers and graduate students who wish to learn about new approaches to translation in a comprehensive but accessible way.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General