2nd Edition

Translation in Systems Descriptive and Systemic Approaches Explained

By Theo Hermans Copyright 2020
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    A critically acclaimed foundational text, Translation in Systems offers a comprehensive guide to the descriptive and systemic approaches which have shaped translation studies. Theo Hermans considers translation norms, equivalence, polysystems and social systems, covering a wide range of theorists in his discussion of the principles of translation studies. Reissued with a new foreword by Kathryn Batchelor, which updates the text for a new generation of readers, Translation in Systems endures partly on account of Hermans’s vivid and articulate writing style.

    The book covers the fundamental problems of translation norms, equivalence, polysystems and social systems, encompassing not only the work of Levý, Holmes, Even-Zohar, Toury, Lefevere, Lambert, Bassnett, D'hulst and others, but also giving special attention to contributions derived from Pierre Bourdieu and Niklas Luhmann. Hermans explains how contemporary descriptive approaches came about, what the basic ideas were, how those ideas have evolved over time, and offers a critique of these approaches.

    With practical questions of how to investigate translation (including problems of definition, description and assessment of readerships), this is essential reading for graduate students and researchers in translation studies and related areas.

    Foreword to the Routledge Translation Classics Edition
    Kathryn Batchelor



    Preamble: Mann’s Fate

    1 An Invisible College


    Invisible Colleges

    Manipulation College?

    2 Lines of Approach

    ‘Diagnostic rather than hortatory’

    Decisions, Shifts, Metatexts

    A Disciplinary Utopia

    3 Points of Orientation

    4 Undefining Translation

    5 Describing Translation

    First Attempts


    Real Readers


    Comparative Practice

    6 Working with Norms

    Decisions and Norms

    Toury’s Norms

    Chesterman’s Norms

    Norm Theory

    Studying Norms

    7 Beyond Norms


    Translation as Index


    Historicizing Theory

    8 Into Systems

    Polysystem’s Sources

    Polysystem’s Terms

    Polysystems in Action

    Polysystem’s Limitations

    9 More Systems?

    Mass Communication Maps

    System, Ideology and Poetics

    Translation as Field and Habitus

    10 Translation as System

    Expectations Structure

    Translation as a Social System

    Self-reference and Description

    11 Criticisms

    12 Perspectives





    Theo Hermans was until recently Director of the Centre for Translation Studies at University College London (UCL). He is now Emeritus Professor in Translation Studies at UCL and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. His main research interests concern the theory and history of translation.

    "Translation in Systems has been the reliable companion for those who would like to access a clear, comprehensive and critical account of descriptive and systemic approaches – both foundational theoretical frameworks which have shaped translation studies. Almost two decades on, it deserves its place in the Routledge Translation Classics, and will continue to guide and inspire teachers, students and researchers who are new to the discipline."
    Şebnem Susam-Saraeva, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK

    "Hermans gives us an insider testimony and a critical review of the gestation of the basic principles on which the fledgling discipline was built: descriptive rather than prescriptive analysis, a systemic view of literature, and a quest for norms and laws of translation."
    Kaisa Koskinen, Professor of Translation Studies, University of Tampere, Finland