TIC Talk 63 2007

Newsletter of the United Bible Societies Translation Information Clearinghouse

Article: "Translation Universals (or...?)", by Sarah Lind
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Translation Universals (or laws, or tendencies, or...?)

Sarah Lind

Are translations different from non-translated texts? Is translation a “third code,” different from both the source text and native texts in the target language? This is the question that research on translation universals is attempting to answer. The idea that translated texts might share “universal” characteristics stems from the general impression that 1) translated texts differ from their source texts in regular ways that can’t be attributed to the interaction of the specific language pair, and 2) translated texts differ from non-translated texts in the same language in regular ways that, again, are not related to the interference of any particular source language.

Frawley proposed a model of the translation as a third code—a product of the negotiation of the translator between the first code of the source text, language, and culture, and the second code of the target language and culture, a product that differs not just in obvious ways from its source, but also from native texts of the “second code.” Others, especially Toury, have also proposed that there are particular laws operating in translating, particular not only because translating is a different activity from original text production, but also because translating produces a measurably different kind of text with features that identify it as a translation. Toury distinguishes between those features that are the result of conforming to (or deliberately flouting) culture-based norms and those that evince universal translation behavior.

Hypotheses about translation universals, then, posit the presence of various linguistic phenomena in translated texts that have a distribution different from what is found for the same phenomena in non-translated texts, whether those non-translated texts are the source text of the translation, or original texts in the target language. While much has been observed over the centuries about the nature of translations with respect to their source texts, those observations, and the evidence brought forward to support them, have lacked the statistical bulk necessary to give weight to hypotheses. Little attention was paid, furthermore, to how translated texts compare to non-translated texts in general (not just the source text).

Electronic Corpora

The investigation of both areas received a boost with the development of the academic field of Descriptive Translation Studies in the last quarter of the last century. Until the 1990s, however, individual studies lacked a consistent methodology and suffered from small data samples—any conclusions would need to be tested in complex quantitative and qualitative comparisons of a large body of texts in a variety of languages from a variety of cultures in order to have more than local validity.

The digitizing of texts, beginning in the 1960s, accelerated dramatically in the 80s and 90s, so that there are now large collections of electronic texts representing all sorts of genres, both translations, along with their source texts, and other non-translations. Just as important have been the development and continual refinement of tools to analyze them. These “e-corpora” or digitized collections of texts, have formed the basis of something that has the look of a field of its own—corpus studies—but is perhaps better regarded as a resource for a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, literature, and more recently, Translation Studies.

It is not possible to talk about research into translation universals without reference to corpus studies. In 1993, Baker outlined the potential of electronic corpora to supply the broad evidential base needed in universals research. Laviosa (2002) vividly demonstrates their contribution in a detailed discussion of results of work on universals before and after e-corpora. She concludes that corpus studies have allowed universals research 1) to develop the intuitive and vague notion of universals into clear, detailed operational research hypotheses; 2) to progress from small scale, manual, language pair and text genre specific to large scale, systematic, comparable, and target-oriented research; 3) to draw on more consistent and richer evidence; and 4) to take into account a wider range of factors involving socio-cultural elements such as the relative status of a language and the position of a literary genre within the general polysystem of literary production (75).

Universals research uses different types of e-corpora: parallel corpora are bilingual (or multilingual), and include source texts and their translations; comparable corpora are monolingual, and include translated and non-translated texts. Both types are needed to rule out or account for the influence of the source language and of target-language norms. Corpus design and quality, the fact that corpora are mostly limited to western languages, principles governing the alignment of texts, and methodologies for using corpora are the subject of much discussion. Articles in The Corpus-Based Approach, a special issue of Meta 43/4, 1998, examine different aspects of the use of corpora in Translation Studies. In the areas of universals research, Kenny describes methodologies involving parallel and comparable corpora; articles by Baker, Laviosa, and Zannettin discuss issues of corpus design. Many of the works listed in the bibliography grapple with the problem of the use of corpora (e.g., Paloposki, Bernardini & Zannettin).

Bernardini and Zannettin demonstrate that corpora are not always as comparable as first appears—they may contain different types of fiction, the direction of the translation may affect the predominance of different types of non-fiction, there may be different ranges of dates, differences in the prestige of works translated, and so on. They conclude: “corpus-based translation research does not only involve word counts and software development… designing a translational corpus implies researching the social context(s) in which translations are produced and interpreted, so as to provide a framework within which textual and linguistic features of translation can be evaluated” (Translation Universals, 60).

Proposed Universals

What are some of these proposed universal characteristics of translated texts? Most researchers conceptualize them in terms of processes or strategies of translation that may have any number of textual outcomes. Those outcomes—features of the text—are the data of investigation, usually assumed to be products of a particular translation process. Baker’s 1993 list, drawing from earlier studies on universals, has set the agenda for almost all ensuing research. The particular features of the primary strategies are still subject to verification. Some have found support in the corpora, some have been challenged, and in all cases it may be considered an open question whether the features actually are outcomes of one strategy or another.

1. Explicitation involves adding material in the target text that is implicit in the source text. Textual indicators of explicitation may occur in the form of lexical, syntactic, or semantic additions, expansions, or substitutions: for example, a higher ratio of function words to lexical items (lower lexical density) because function words make grammatical relations explicit, specific terms replacing more general terms, disambiguation of pronouns, increased grammatical and lexical cohesion, supplying of elided material, adding modifiers, greater sentence length or a longer text overall (always making allowance for morphosyntactic differences in the languages concerned). These types of explicitation are regarded as distinct from supplying information to compensate for cultural gaps, which is not in itself inherent in translation. Some explicitation studies include: Øverås; Olohan and Baker; Englund Dimitrova; Pym 2005; Pápai in Universals; Puurtinen in Universals; Cheong.

2. Simplification may also find expression lexically, syntactically, or semantically. Some textual features resulting from simplification may be just the opposite of explicitation—more general terms replacing specific ones, or a number of short sentences replacing a long one and lower average sentence length in general, omission of modifying phrases and words; or some may be exactly the same, e.g., lower lexical density (reducing the information load). Other types of simplification are the reduction and omission of repetition, a narrower range of vocabulary, and a related lower type/token ratio (that is, the number of distinct lexical items is lower relative to the total number of words than in the source text and in comparable original texts). Some simplification studies are: Blum-Kulka & Levenston; Ghadessy & Gao; Paloposki; Williams; Laviosa.

3. Normalization is the “tendency to exaggerate features of the target language and to conform to its typical patterns” (Baker 1996, 183) to the extent that the translated text’s conventionality exceeds both that of the source text and of target language texts. The shifts may involve punctuation or vocabulary or syntax. Just as some features may be explained as either explicitation and simplification, many normalization shifts could also be explained as simplification. Some researchers see simplification as a subcategory of normalization (e.g., Vanderauwera). Some normalization studies: Vanderauwera; May; Tirkkonen-Condit 2002; Jantunen.

4. Leveling out was a term applied by Schlesinger to “shifts that take place along the oral-literate or any similarly pre-defined continuum in either interpreting or translating.” That is, through the process of translation, oral-type texts acquire more written features, and written-type texts take on more oral characteristics. Leveling out is described more generally by Baker as “the tendency of translated text to gravitate towards the centre of a continuum” (Baker 1996, 184). Laviosa proposes the term convergence – “the relatively higher level of homogeneity of translated texts with regard to their own scores on given measures of universal features” such as lexical density or sentence length, in contrast to non-translational texts, which are more idiosyncratic, with a higher level of variance (Laviosa 2002, 73). In other words, translated texts, like converts, are more normal than normal.

One of the great benefits of corpus-based studies, as Laviosa points out, is that they allow a bottom-up approach to universal studies—starting from the data and working toward the theory, revealing regularities that may not be noticed otherwise. Type/token ratios, lexical density, and sentence length are not features that jump out at a reader, or a translator, or a reviewer. One would like to see a little more implementation of the bottom-up approach and less of a theory-driven approach. “We have theories enough; what we need are means of checking them on the micro-level” (van der Louw 2006a, 26). The explanatory categories sometimes seem to have the status of dogma and can get in the way of drawing meaningful conclusions.

But what does “universal” mean?

“Universals are absolute; translation is probabilistic.” (Frawley, 167)

Rationalization, clarification, expansion, ennoblement, qualitative impoverishment, quantitative impoverishment, destruction of rhythms, of underlying networks of signification, of linguistic patterning, of vernacular networks, of expressions and idioms… When Berman (1985) elaborated this list of “translation deformations,” he called them “universals of deformation inherent in translating as such”—part of a system “that operates in every translation”—and found them all abominable. At the same time, they were not ahistorical, but “the internalized expression of a two-millennium-old tradition.”

It was before the wolf-pack pursuit of translation universals, but Berman unwittingly expressed a crucial difficulty facing that pursuit—unwittingly because when Berman said “universal” it seems he meant “Western,” and so was not bound to demonstrate true universality. But the difficulty is a central challenge for identifying translation universals: What distinctive features of translation, if any, could be said to result from the translation process per se, in contrast to those features that result from all the particular forces in play in a translation (e.g., the specific source language/target language pair and direction of translation, attributes of the translator, the norms that govern writing and translation in the culture, institutional requirements, editorial intervention, communication situation, market pressures)?

Translation Universals: Do they exist? is the title of a 2001 conference and the subsequent published volume of papers. That question expresses the uncertain status of the subject in Translation Studies and the exploratory nature of the research. The range of papers in the volume offers an excellent introduction to issues that the research must face, beginning with the general conceptual essays by Toury and Chesterman, attempting to pin down what the term universal might mean in the context of translation.


Toury, while reluctantly accepting the term universal, prefers law, “not merely because the notion has the possibility of exception built in, but mainly because it should always be possible to explain away seeming exceptions with the help of another law, operating on another level.” He agrees with Frawley that regularities in translation involve probability and not absolute determinism, so promotes the concept of conditioned universals, essentially in the form “If conditions a, b, c, etc., are true, then there is a greater likelihood that X will happen.” It’s a theory of likelihoods—what translation is likely to involve, under different sets of conditions—that recognizes the incredibly complicating fact of the myriad variables in actual translation situations (Translation Universals, 26-29). Toury is also inclined to simplify the list of universals to two general concepts that are in tension with each other: the law of increasing standardization, and the law of interference from the source text.

Chesterman offers a parallel to Toury’s dichotomous model of translation regularities in the form of “S-universals,” that is, differences between translations and their source texts, regardless of language (e.g., interference, standardization, explicitation); and “T-universals,” that is, differences between translations and comparable texts in the target language (e.g., simplification by less lexical variety, lower lexical density, under-representation of TL-specific items). This distinction recognizes the importance of the fact that the hypotheses make claims about translated texts both with respect to their source text and with respect to original texts in the target language. If it were only one or the other, the claims would lose their universal punch.

Like Toury, Venuti doesn’t dismiss the research on universals as unproductive, but at the same time cautions that “a careful contextualization of translation practices, distinguishing universals from both contemporary and past norms, becomes crucial in describing any tradition.” The same sentiment is echoed by virtually all those involved in the research. “The accumulation of coherent and reliable data for the detailed description of the third code is however, Baker argues (1998), only a spring board for investigating wider issues concerning the product and process of translation, such as the study of the specific pressures, constraints and motivations under which translated texts are produced within a given social and cultural context.” (Laviosa 2002)

In fact, assessing the impact and interplay of all possible conditions is a requirement that severely challenges the search for universals. Snell-Hornby, an advocate of Translation Studies as an “interdiscipline,” strongly reproaches the “regression” to a linguistic approach represented by universals research, although almost all universals research emphasizes the importance of taking cultural factors into account. Nevertheless, the most recent research relies heavily on electronic corpora, which are unavoidably decontextualized. Tymoczko (2005) agrees with Snell-Hornby, stating flatly that Translation Studies “should give up the search for universals” because it is at odds with the nature of the object of study—translation is a “cluster concept”—such that “Not all conclusions of research are applicable to all translation types or all translation contexts” (§ 49).

Snell-Hornby adds that, as with linguistics, most studies are in relation to English and other Western languages—the same problem that linguistics in general and linguistic universals studies contended with. Furthermore, for any language used as a lingua franca, but especially for English (because of its dominance in the e-corpora), there is the question of what exactly a non-translated text versus a translated one is—“what about Midnight’s Children as a postcolonial hybrid text…or the UN text on Morocco, based on French material but intended to function as a source text?” she asks. “And what about the flood of English-language texts on the Internet…abounding in interferences?” (157).


In his critique of the universals canon as he sees it set forth in Baker, Pym (2007) plays the role of the boy declaring that the emperor has no clothes. While he goes too far in caricaturing Baker’s ideas, he does point to a weakness of the research: it has lacked conceptual sophistication and explanatory power. The work in the last five years or so has gone some way to remedy that situation, as the studies in the bibliography demonstrate. Baker herself states that corpus studies are only the point of departure for universals research, and that no amount of description will be useful unless it leads to hypotheses about causes (Baker 1998), also a concern of Chesterman.

Halverson attempts to provide such an explanation in terms of bilingual cognitive processing. Paloposki raises the possibility that the processes said to be universal for translation—simplification, explicitation, normalization—may be typical of text-processing in general, and therefore not distinguishing characteristics of translation at all.

Exploring what overarching motivation might unify Toury’s opposing “laws,” Pym proposes “that the tendency to standardize and the tendency to channel interference are both risk-averse strategies, and that their status as possible laws thus depends on the relative absence of rewards for translators who take risks. It follows that future possible laws might be found in the dynamics of risk management.” (Pym 2007, 1). In other words, translators tend to prefer to avoid risks—they will conform to target norms (through explicitation, or simplification, or other means) when that is where the rewards lie (clear communication), and they will allow the interference of the source text (through literal translation, for example) when that is where the rewards lie (in the case of a high status source text such as the Bible, for example).

Importance for Translation Studies

Research into translation universals has already had an important impact on Translation Studies. Through its recent focus on using e-corpora, corpora and corpus methodologies have been scrutinized and improved. Furthermore, whether the results of corpus research can be labeled “universal” or not, the identification of regularities in translated texts vis-à-vis other texts can provide insight into translation processes. The intent of the endeavor is “to discover more and more facets of the nature of translated text and translating and raise awareness about the complex, reciprocal relationship that links language to culture” (Laviosa 2002, 77). The accumulation of comparative data can certainly enrich our understanding of translated texts and perhaps serve as a stimulus, if not support, for improved hypotheses.

In the area of biblical studies, T. van der Louw has investigated the usefulness of the concept of universals, along with other approaches in Translation Studies, for Septuagint studies. He found that one of its most helpful applications is for describing how translators tend to develop over time. Helgegren also carried out this kind of comparative study, albeit on the “Harry Potter” corpus rather than that of the Psalms. Following van der Louw’s lead, Raija Sollamo will present a paper at this summer’s International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies XIII Congress in Ljublana, looking for common ground between translation technique in the LXX and universals research.

Usefulness for Translation Practice

“While the non-evaluative stance of Descriptive Translation Studies has indeed been a valuable move within translation research, there is no reason why textual investigations should not be of use to practising translators, as long as the latter also realize that there is as much to be learnt from insights into the many possibilities and constraints that operate on translation as there is from rigid prescription and definite answers.” (Øverås) The contribution of universals research so far may be those micro-level observations that have come out of corpus studies—observations of tendencies that are not at all evident to the reader, but help determine the shape of the text. Bringing unconscious choices to the conscious level at least raises the translator’s awareness of translation decisions and strategies and “should lead to a greater understanding of how to produce translations that have more desired effects and fewer unwanted ones.” (Chesterman 2000).


Translation universals have been the focus of a number of conferences, or sections of conferences, notably:

Baker, Mona. 1993. “Corpus Linguistics and Translation Studies: Implications and Applications.” In Text and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair, M. Baker, G. Francis and E. Tognini-Bonelli, eds., 233-250. Benjamins.

——. 1995. “Corpora in Translation Studies: An Overview and Some Suggestions for Future Research.” Target 7/2:223-243.

——. 1996. “Corpus-based Translation Studies: The Challenges That Lie Ahead.” In Terminology, LSP and Translation. Studies in Language Engineering in Honour of Juan C. Sager, H. Somers, ed., 175-186. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

——. 1998. “Réexplorer la langue de la traduction: une approche par corpus.” Meta 43/4, 480-485. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/001951ar.html

Baroni, M., and S. Bernardini. 2006. “A New Approach to the Study of Translationese: Machine-Learning the Difference between Original and Translated Text.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 21/3, 259-274.

Berman, Antoine. 2000. “Translation and the Trials of the Foreign.” Lawrence Venuti, tr. In The Translation Studies Reader, L. Venuti, ed., 284-297. Routledge. Originally published as “La traduction comme épreuve de l’étranger.” Texte 1985, 67-81.

Bloch, Ilan. 2005. “Sentence Splitting as an Expression of Translationese.” Seminar paper, Translation Studies Department, Bar Ilan University. http://www.biu.ac.il/hu/stud-pub/tr/tr-pub/bloch-split.htm

Blum-Kulka, S., and E. Levenston. 1983. “Universals of Lexical Simplification.” In Strategies in Interlanguage Communication, C. Færch and G. Kasper, eds., 119-139. Longman.

Cheong, Ho-Jeong. 2006. “Target Text Contraction in English-into-Korean Translations: A Contradiction of Presumed Translation Universals?” Meta 51/2, 343-367. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2006/v51/n2/013261ar.html

Chesterman, Andrew. 2000. “A Causal Model for Translation Studies.” Paper presented at UMIST/UCL Conference: Research Models in Translation Studies, 28-30 April 2000, Manchester, UK. Published under the same title in Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies I. Textual and Cognitive Aspects, M. Olohan, ed., 15-27. St. Jerome.

——. 2003. “Contrastive Textlinguistics and Translation Universals.” In Contrastive Analysis in Language: Identifying Linguistic Units of Comparison, D. Willems, B. Defrancq, T. Colleman, and D. Noël, eds. Palgrave/Macmillan.

——. 2004. “Hypotheses about Translation Universals.” In Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies, 1–13.

——. 2006. “Interpreting the Meaning of Translation.” http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/sky/julkaisut/SKY2006_1/1FK60.1.1.CHESTERMAN.pdf

Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies: Selected Contributions from the EST Congress, Copenhagen 2001. 2004. G. Hansen, K. Malmkjær, and D. Gile, eds. Copenhagen Business School / Middlesex University / Université Lumière Lyon 2.

The Corpus-Based Approach. 1998. Thematic issue of Meta, Sara Laviosa, ed. (43/4): http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/index.html

Englund Dimitrova, Birgitta. 2005. Expertise and Explicitation in the Translation Process. Benjamins.

Frawley, William. 1984. “Prolegomenon to a Theory of Translation.” In Translation: Literary, Linguistic, and Philosophical Perspectives, W. Frawley, ed., 159-175. University of Delaware Press; Associated University Presses, 1984. Reprinted in The Translation Studies Reader, L. Venuti, ed., 250-263. Routledge.

Ghadessy, Mohsen and Yanjie Gao. 2001. “Simplification as a Universal Feature of the Language of Translation.” Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 11/1, 61-75.

Halverson, Sandra L. 2003. “The Cognitive Basis of Translation Universals.” Target 15/2, 197-241.

Helgegren, Sofia. 2005. “Tracing Translation Universals and Translator Development by Word Aligning a Harry Potter Corpus.” Undergraduate thesis, Linköping University (Sweden), Department of Computer and Information Science. http://www.diva-portal.org/diva/getDocument?urn_nbn_se_liu_diva-4579-1__fulltext.pdf

Jantunen, Jarmo Harri. 2005. “Non-translated and Translated Finnish in Contrast: A Corpus Analysis of Linguistic Correctness of Translations.” Paper presented at ICLC4: Fourth International Contrastive Linguistics Conference, Monday 19 September to Friday 23 September 2005, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Kanter, Ido, Haggai Kfir, Brenda Malkiel, Miriam Shlesinger. 2006. “Identifying Universals of Text Translation.” Journal of Quantitative Linguistics 13/1, 35-43.

Kenny, Dorothy. 1998. “Creatures of Habit? What Translators Usually Do with Words.” Meta 43/4, 515-523. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/003302ar.html

Laviosa, Sara. 2000. “TEC: A Resource for Studying What Is ‘in’ and ‘of’ Translational English.” Paper presented at UMIST/UCL Conference: Research Models in Translation Studies, 28-30 April 2000, Manchester, UK. http://www.art.man.ac.uk/SML/ctis/events/Conference2000/corpus1.htm

——. 2002. Corpus-based Translation Studies: Theory, Findings, Applications. Rodopi.

Laviosa-Braithwaite, Sara. 1998. “Universals of Translation.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, M. Baker, ed., 288-291. Routledge.

van der Louw, Theo. 2006. “Transformations in the Septuagint: Towards an Interaction of Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies.” Dissertation, Leiden University. (To be published this year by Peeters.)

——. 2006a. “Approaches in Translation Studies and Their Use for the Study of the Septuagint.” In XII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Leiden, 2004, M.K.H. Peters, ed., 17-28.

Mauranen, Anna. 2000. “Strange Strings in Translated Language. A Study on Corpora.” Paper presented at UMIST/UCL Conference: Research Models in Translation Studies, 28-30 April 2000, Manchester, UK. http://www.art.man.ac.uk/SML/ctis/events/Conference2000/corpus2.htm#mauranen . Published under the same title in Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies 1: Textual and Cognitive Aspects, M. Olohan ed., 119-141. St. Jerome.

May, R. 1997. “Sensible Elocution. How Translation Works in and upon Punctuation.” The Translator 3/1, 1-20.

Newman, Aryeh. 1987. “Translation Universals – Perspectives and Explorations.” In Translation Perspectives III: Selected Papers 1985–86, M.G. Rose, ed., 69-83. Nat. Res. Center for Translation and Interpretation.

Olohan, M., and M. Baker. 2000. “Reporting that in Translated English: Evidence for Subconscious Processes of Explicitation?” Across Languages and Cultures 1/2, 141-158.

Øverås, Linn. 1998. “In Search of the Third Code: An Investigation of Norms in Literary Translation.” Meta 43/4, 571-588. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/003775ar.html

Paloposki, Outi Helena. 2001. “Enriching Translations, Simplified Language? An Alternative Viewpoint to Lexical Simplification.” Target 13/2, 265-288.

——. 2002. “Variation in Translation: Literary Translation into Finnish, 1809-1850.” Dissertation. Department of Translation Studies, University of Helsinki.

Puurtinen, Tiina. 1998. “Syntax, Readability and Ideology in Children’s Literature.” Meta 43/4, 557-570. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/003879ar.html

——. 2003. “Genre-specific Features of Translationese? Linguistic Differences between Translated and Non-translated Finnish Children’s Literature.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 18/4, 389-406.

Pym, Anthony. 2005. “Explaining Explicitation.” Version 2.2 draft version of a paper published in New Trends in Translation Studies. In Honour of Kinga Klaudy, K. Károly and Á. Fóris, eds. Akadémiai Kiadó. http://www.tinet.org/~apym/on-line/translation/explicitation_web.pdf

——. 2007. “On Toury’s Laws of How Translators Translate.” http://www.tinet.org/~apym/on-line/translation/2007_toury_laws.pdf

Snell-Hornby, Mary. 2006. The Turns of Translation Studies: New Paradigms or Shifting Viewpoints? Benjamins.

Sollamo, Raijo. Forthcoming. “Translation Technique and Translation Studies.” Paper to be presented at the IOSCS XIII Congress in Ljublana, 13-14 July 2007.

Tirkkonen-Condit, Sonja. 2000. “In Search of Translation Universals: Non-equivalence or ‘Unique’ Items in a Corpus Test.” Paper presented at UMIST/UCL Conference: Research Models in Translation Studies, 28-30 April 2000, Manchester, UK. http://www.art.man.ac.uk/SML/ctis/events/Conference2000/corpus2.htm#tirkkonen-condit.

——. 2002. “Translationese — A Myth or an Empirical Fact? A Study into the Linguistic Identifiability of Translated Language.” Target 14/2, 207-220.

Toury, Gideon. 1995. “Towards Laws of Translational Behaviour.” Part 4 of Descriptive Studies and Beyond, 259-279. Benjamins.

Translation Universals: Do They Exist? 2004. Anna Mauranen and Pekka Kujamäki, eds. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

  • G. Toury, Probabilistic explanations in translation studies: Welcome as they are, would they qualify as universals? 15–32

  • A. Chesterman, Beyond the particular, 33–49

  • S. Bernardini and F. Zanettin, When is a universal not a universal? Some limits of current corpus-based methodologies for the investigation of translation universals, 1–62

  • A. Mauranen, Corpora, universals and interference, 65–82

  • S. Eskola, Untypical frequencies in translated language: A corpus-based study on a literary corpus of translated and non-translated Finnish, 83–99

  • J. H. Jantunen, Untypical patterns in translations: Issues on corpus methodology and synonymity, 101–126

  • P. Nilsson, Translation-specific lexicogrammar? Characteristic lexical and collocational patterning in Swedish texts translated from English, 129–141

  • V. Pápai, Explicitation: A universal of translated text? 143–164

  • T. Puurtinen, Explicitation of clausal relations: A corpus-based analysis of clause connectives in translated and non-translated Finnish children’s literature, 165–176

  • S. Tirkkonen-Condit, Unique items — over- or under-represented in translated language? 177–184

  • P. Kujamäki, What happens to “unique items” in learners’ translations? “Theories” and “concepts” as a challenge for novices’ views on “good translation,” 187–204

  • R. Jääskeläinen, The fate of “The Families of Medellín”: Tampering with a potential translation universal in the translation class, 205–214

Tymoczko, Maria. 1998. “Computerized Corpora and the Future of Translation Studies.” Meta 43/4, 652-660. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/1998/v43/n4/index.html

——. 2005. “Trajectories of Research in Translation Studies.” Meta 50/4. http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2005/v50/n4/012062ar.html

Vanderauwera, R. 1985. Dutch Novels Translated into English. The Transformation of a “Minority” Literature. Rodopi.

Venuti, Lawrence. 2005. “Translation, History, Narrative.” Meta 50/3, 800-816. Read from http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2005/v50/n3/011597ar.pdf.

Williams, Donna A. 2004. “Recurrent Features of Translation in Canada: A Corpus-based Study.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Ottawa. Department of Computational Linguistics.

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Publication Notices

Bible Translation


Traduire la Bible hébraïque/Translating the Hebrew Bible: de la Septante à la Nouvelle Bible Segond/From the Septuagint to the Nouvelle Bible Segond. 2005. R. David and M. Jinbachian, eds. Médiaspaul. The papers in this volume come from the 2004 symposium at McGill University and the University of Montreal commemorating the Canadian Bible Society centenary. Papers are grouped under Septuagint, Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, and Translating the Hebrew Scriptures Today.

Gerrit J. van Steenbergen. 2006. Semantics, World View and Bible Translation. SUN PReSS. Gerrit’s published dissertation offers a semantic analysis of selected Hebrew lexical items referring to negative moral behavior in the book of Isaiah and discusses the implications of the analysis for Hebrew lexicography and Bible translation. He explores new directions for componential analysis, particularly cognitive linguistics, and the contributions of world view theory to semantic description. A combination of the two approaches, componential analysis and world view analysis, offers new possibilities for semantic description, both in terms of categorization and semantic components of individual lexical items. (See also Gerrit’s articles in the January issue of The Bible Translator, and forthcoming in July.)

Ernst Wendland. 2006. Life-Style Translating, a Workbook for Bible Translators. SIL Publications. This workbook is a practical supplement to Ernie’s text Translating the Literature of Scripture (2004), which expounds a literary-rhetorical approach to Bible translation, literary-functional equivalence (LiFE). It introduces some of the main forms of biblical literature and their functions, and provides translation exercises. The text-intensive approach aims to increase the translator’s understanding of the forms and ability to identify equivalent modes of expression in the target language.

David J. Clark. 2006. Babes in the Jungle. AuthorHouse UK. David’s very entertaining first book of memoirs recounts the family’s year in Nigeria in 1965-66. He says, “While this book is never going to rival Harry Potter, in the event that there should be any profits, we intend to plough them back into Bible translation in some form or other.” The book can be ordered on the internet from AuthorHouse, or other booksellers.

The Korean Bible Society’s Journal of Biblical Text Research offers pdfs of its articles online (http://www.bskorea.or.kr/organ/sourcelab/lab_list.aspx). In issue 16 (2005), the English articles include: “Ethnographies of Speaking and Bible Translation in Asian Contexts,” Lourens de Vries; “The Tower of Babel: Adventures in Biblical Interpretation,” Yu Suee Yan; and “A Literary (Artistic-Rhetorical) Approach to Biblical Text Analysis and Translation: with Special Reference to Paul’s Letter to Philemon,” Ernst Wendland. The URL for issue 16: http://www.bskorea.or.kr/organ/sourcelab/labsource.aspx?nidx=39&CurrentPage=1&SearchKey=all&SearchText. To get the pdfs scroll down until you find the titles in English (unless of course you also want the Korean titles). In issue 17 (2005): “Translating the Eschaton: An Environmental Impact Report,” Stephen Pattemore; “Interlinears: Lack of Equivalence,” Annie del Corro; “Korean Translation of the Greek Personal Pronoun σου in the Lord’s Prayer,” Young-Jin Min & Ji-Youn Cho; “The Challenges of the RCUV Project: Revising Genesis as a Case in Point,” Joseph Hong. The URL for issue 17: http://www.bskorea.or.kr/organ/sourcelab/labsource.aspx?nidx=40&CurrentPage=1&SearchKey=all&SearchText. In issue 18 (2006): “Bible Translations for Asian Audiences: Nestorian Experiment in T’ang Dynasty China and Mongolian Equivalents for Diety,” Young-Jin Min; “Reflections on the First Translation of Korean Bible: the Ross Version of 1887 (Yesu-Seonggyo-Jeonseo),” Hwan-Jin Yi. The URL for issue 18: http://www.bskorea.or.kr/organ/sourcelab/labsource.aspx?nidx=41&CurrentPage=1&SearchKey=all&SearchText.

Terry Ray Clark. 2007. “Biblical Graphic Novels: Adaptation, Interpretation, and ‘Faithful Transfer.’” SBL Forum March. In his response to David Burke and Lydia Lebrón-Rivera (“Transferring Biblical Narrative to Graphic Novel,” SBL Forum, April 2004 http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=249 ), C. explores “the notion of what an unfaithful transfer of scripture might entail when adapting biblical material for the format of the graphic novel by examining two separate treatments of the Samson Saga in graphic-novel format and then briefly examining a graphic-novel treatment of the Exodus story” (i.e., the ABS graphic novels Samson: Judge of Israel and Testament, and The Lone and Level Sands, by A. David Lewis and mpMann). He argues that, in cases of ambiguity, “‘clear and understandable transfer’ should require the interpreter, even if adapting a text into the format of a graphic novel, to capture that ambiguity and communicate it faithfully, as opposed to seeking clarity where it never originally existed.” http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=641

Harriet Hill. 2006. The Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication. St. Jerome. Harriet’s field research among the Adioukrou of Côte d’Ivoire confirms that audiences need to have access to the contextual information the author expected the audience to bring to the text. The book presents a model to assist translators in identifying contextual mismatches and applies it thematically to mismatches between first-century Jewish and Adioukrou views of the unseen world, and on the passage level to contextual mismatches arising from four Gospel passages. In-text and out-of-text solutions for adjusting contextual mismatches are explored, with field research results showing the effectiveness of various solutions.

Wil Gafney. 2006. “Translation Matters: A Fem/Womanist Exploration of Translation Theory and Practice for Proclamation in Worship.” SBL Forum 4/3. G. offers what she terms “One Black Feminist’s Translation Principles”: Take the biblical text seriously in all its plurality; Attend to the orality of the text; Use comparative philology and semantic range to determine meaning; Translate for all of God’s people from each perspective present (or hidden) in the text; Recover and proclaim ontological blackness; Recover women obscured by masculine grammar; Put an end to the mediation of the Hebrew Scriptures through Western translation norms. http://www.sbl-site.org/PDF/Gafney.pdf

Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation. 2005. W. Grudem, L. Ryken, C.J. Collins, et al. Crossway Books. Translating Truth defines “Essentially Literal Bible translation” as translation that remains faithful to the original languages, preserving as much of the original form and meaning as possible while still communicating effectively and clearly in the receptors’ languages. The essays expound and defend the foundational ideas of “Essentially Literal Bible translation.”


Harold P. Scanlin. 2006. “Charles Thomson: Philadelphia Patriot and Bible Translator.” BIOSCS 39:115-132. In this paper delivered at the 2005 SBL meeting in Philadelphia, Harold gives an account of Thomson and his early 19th century English translation of the Septuagint.

XII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies Leiden, 2004. 2006. M.K.H. Peters, ed. Brill. A section of this congress was devoted to the LXX and Descriptive Translation Studies

  • Approaches in Translation Studies and Their Use for the Study of the Septuagint, T. van der Louw

  • The Translation of a Translation: Some Methodological Considerations on the Translation of the Septuagint, J. Cook

Other papers from the discussion were published in the Bulletin

  • LXX and DTS: A New Archimedean Point for Septuagint Studies? Albert Pietersma

  • A Handful of Methodological Issues in DTS: Are They Applicable to the Study of the Septuagint as an Assumed Translation? Gideon Toury

  • Toward the Analysis of Translational Norms: A Sighting Shot, Cameron Boyd-Taylor

  • The Letter of Aristeas and the Reception History of the Septuagint, Benjamin G. Wright III

  • Locating Targum in the Textual Polysystem of Rabbinic Pedagogy, Steven D. Fraade

Septuagint Research Issues and Challenges in the Study of the Greek Jewish Scriptures. 2006. W. Kraus and R.G. Wooden, eds. SBL; Brill. This volume surveys methodological issues, thematic and book-centered studies focused on the LXX, its use in the NT, and a call for the exploration of the theologies of the LXX as a bridge between the theologies of the Hebrew Bible and those of the NT. It brings together a variety of perspectives, including scholars working on the New English Translation of the Septuagint project and those working on the Septuaginta Deutsch project. Some of the titles:

  • Translation as Scripture: The Septuagint in Aristeas and Philo, B.G. Wright III

  • Contemporary Translations of the Septuagint: Problems and Perspectives, W. Kraus

  • The Hermeneutics of Translation in the Septuagint of Genesis, R.J.V. Hiebert

  • The Letters of Paul as Witnesses to and for the Septuagint Text, F. Wilk

  • Flourishing Bones-- The Minor Prophets in the NT, H. Utzschneider

  • The Septuagint Textual Tradition in 1 Peter, K.H. Jobes

  • The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Septuagint, M. Karrer

Abraham Wasserstein and David Wasserstein. 2006. The Legend of the Septuagint from Classical Antiquity to Today. Cambridge University Press. The authors offer an account of the Letter of Aristeas and subsequent variations on the story of LXX origins over the last two millennia, providing a history of the uses of the legend in various cultures around the Mediterranean.

Jean-Claude Haelewyck. 2006. “The Relevance of the Old Latin Version for the Septuagint, with Special Emphasis on the Book of Esther.” Journal of Theological Studies 57/2:439-473. For certain books of the Old Testament the Old Latin is witness to a Greek model which differs from the one given in the major critical editions of the Septuagint, particularly for Esther. H. analyzes the sources for the Old Latin to Esther (manuscripts, patristic quotations, and editions in antiquity) and situates the Old Latin within the Greek tradition of Esther logically and chronologically: The Greek model of the Old Latin (La-GrIII) represents the first Greek translation of the book, and the other two forms, the L text (GrII) and the LXX text (GrI), are later. H. dates this first translation to between 120 and 100 BC at the latest.

Corpus Linguistics and Textual History: A Computer-Assisted Interdisciplinary Approach to the Peshitta. 2006. P.v. Keulen and W.v. Peursen, eds. Van Gorcum. Essays from a 2003 seminar that was part of a joint project by the Peshitta Institute in Leiden (PIL) and the Werkgroep Informatica Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (WIVU) address questions relating to the interaction of computer-assisted research of text corpora, linguistics, and textual criticism in the analysis of ancient texts. Issues discussed are synchronic and diachronic approaches, the role of linguistic analysis in the interpretation of texts, and the interaction of linguistic theory and the representation and analysis of linguistic data—in this case the Syriac Peshitta. A summary of the papers can be found in J. Cook’s RBL review at http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=5403



Lénart J. de Regt. 2006. “Hebrew Syntactic Inversions and Their Literary Equivalence in English: Robert Alter’s Translations of Genesis and 1 and 2 Samuel.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 30/3:287-314. Lénart discusses the functions of the syntactic inversions in Genesis and 1 and 2 Samuel in terms of contrastive focus or topical referents (before the verb), and most salient information represented by the verb (when the verb occurs at the end of the sentence), then analyzes the extent to which Robert Alter has expressed these functions in the literary language of his translations. When it is a topical referent that has been put in first position in the Hebrew, maintaining the syntactic inversions in English wrongly suggests focus on the fronted element.

David E.S. Stein. 2006. “God’s Name in a Gender-Sensitive Jewish Translation.” SBL Forum. Stein, the editor of The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS Translation (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006), reports on a survey of scholars that he initiated when deciding how to represent the tetragrammaton in The Contemporary Torah (which refers to God in gender-neutral terms except where poetry employs gendered imagery). The discussion from the survey led the editor and publishers to use the unvocalized יהוה. “This styling would enable the word to function as a name without limiting the conception of God to a single quality. We would invite those who read the translation aloud to pronounce the Name via whatever term they customarily use for it. Thus those who prefer the traditional vocalization as Adonai could say it that way, while others who prefer “the Eternal” could say it that way, and so on.” http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=552 (To be reprinted in the July issue of The Bible Translator.)


Ines Oseki-Depre. 2003. “Retraduire la Bible: Le Qohélet.” Cadernos de Tradução 11/1. http://www.cadernos.ufsc.br/online/volume11.html/ines.pdf The author compares three translations of Qohélet to situate each one in terms of its context and sets of expectations—the scholastic, hermeneutical translation of La Bible de Jérusalem, the Hebraizing translation of Andre Chouraqui, and the poetic transpositions of Henri Meschonnic (Les cinqs rouleaux) and Jacques Roubaud (in the Bayard Bible). The Brazilian translation of Haroldo de Campos is also taken into account as a point of comparison.


Die Bibel in Gerechter Sprache. 2006. U. Bail, F. Crüsemann, M. Crüsemann, et al., eds. Gütersloher Verlagshaus. In the terms of one of its editors, Helga Kuhlmann, “The adjective ‘equitable’ [gerechter] marks the idea to which our project is especially committed, ‘to correspond to the fundamental Biblical idea of justice in a particular way,’ in gender appropriate language, in a language that takes up the results of the Jewish-Christian dialogue, and in a language that shows particular sensitivity in the translation of social differentiations.” For the name of God, the translation “proposes eighteen variants of the name of God: ‘Adonai,’ ‘ha Shem,’ ‘the Name,’ ‘GOD,’ ‘the Living’ (in the masculine gender), ‘The Living’ (in the feminine gender), ‘I-am-here,’ ‘ha-Makom,’ ‘You,’ ‘HE SHE,’ ‘SHE HE,’ ‘the One’ (in the masculine gender), ‘the One’ (in the feminine gender), ‘the Holy’ (in the masculine gender), and ‘the Holy’ (in the feminine gender). The header [at the top of some pages] with varying proposals for reading allows the reader to choose another variant than that in the body of the text in place of the original name of God.” http://www.bibel-in-gerechter-sprache.de/


Eric A. Hermanson. 2006. Metaphor in Zulu: Problems in the Translation of Biblical Metaphor in the Book of Amos. SUN PReSS. Eric examines metaphor in Zulu in the light of conceptual metaphor theory from the perspective of a Bible translator, and considers the translation of Biblical Hebrew metaphor into Zulu, focusing on conceptual metaphors in Amos.

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Edesio Sánchez. 2006. ¿Qué es la Biblia? Respuestas desde las ciencias bíblicas. Kairos Ediciones. This second edition includes a revised bibliography, more examples from the NT, an added chapter on biblical archeology, and the chapter on social and cultural setting is expanded to two chapters.

Vilson Scholz. 2006. Princípios de interpretação bíblica: Introdução à hermenêutica com ênfase em gêneros literários. Editora da ULBRA. Vilson offers an introduction to the canon, text criticism, translation, history of interpretation, exegetical method, and literary genres of the Bible.

Africa Bible Commentary. 2006. T. Adeyemo, ed. WordAlive; Zondervan. This volume “attempts to relate the Scriptures and African cultures and in so doing to seek ways in which the gospel may be seen to be relevant to African cultures” (K. Bediako, p. 3). African scholars from diverse ecclesiastical traditions and theological viewpoints are represented. Each book contains an introduction, outline, section-by-section commentary, and further reading. Interspersed throughout the book are about 80 articles on various topics. Among the authors, some names familiar to our community:

  • Anastasia Boniface-Malle, “Numbers”

  • Edouard Kitoko Nsiku, “Isaiah”

  • Issiaka Coulibaly (also editor of the French articles), “Jeremiah,” “Lamentations,” “2 Corinthians,” “Suffering”

  • Daniel Bitrus, “Amos”

  • Youssouf Dembele, “Habakkuk”

  • Eshetu Abate (Ethiopian BS), “Philippians”

  • Aloo Mojola, “Bible translation in Africa”

  • Kwame Bediako--“Scripture as the interpreter of culture and tradition”

  • Mae Alice Reggy-Mamo, “Widows and orphans,” “Widow inheritance.”

Biblical Interpretation in African Perspective. 2006. D.T. Adamo, ed. University Press of America. This volume includes six essays on historical perspective, including “Historical development of OT interpretation in Africa,” by Adamo, and “Sub-Saharan African doctoral dissertations in OT studies, 1967-2000: Some remarks to their chronology and geography,” by K. Holter, and six articles on contextual interpretation of texts.

The Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation. 2006. M.W. Chavalas, ed. Blackwell. This volume contains primary sources from around 2700 BC to 331 BC with new translations of Mesopotamian and Ancient Near Eastern historiographic texts and related materials. The opening chapter sets out themes of the book and discusses the difficulties of translating cuneiform texts and reconstructing ANE history from textual sources. Each of the 13 collections is preceded by a brief introduction, and for each text, a detailed commentary is provided.

Biblical Traditions in Transmission: Essays in Honour of Michael A. Knibb. 2006. C. Hempel and J.M. Lieu, eds. Brill. Eighteen papers treat the theme of the transmission of biblical traditions in a variety of contexts (as represented in the versions, the pseudepigrapha, at Qumran, and in early Christian writings), exploring the way in which biblical traditions were shaped in early Jewish and Christian literature. A few titles:

  • G. J. Brooke, “The Formation and Renewal of Scriptural Tradition”

  • F. García Martínez, “Divine Sonship at Qumran: Between the Old and the New Testament”

  • B. G. Wright III, “From Generation to Generation: The Sage as Father in Early Jewish Literature”

  • Yarbro Collins, “Christian Messianism and the First Jewish War with Rome.”

Giuseppe Veltri. 2006. Libraries, Translations, and ‘Canonic’ Texts: The Septuagint, Aquila and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. Brill. V. considers how ancient traditions are decanonized by the technique of reconstructing their original context; in particular: the process of canonization of the Greek Torah in Jewish-Hellenistic and Christian tradition and its decanonization in Rabbinic literature; the use and abuse of the translation(s) of Aquila in Patristic and Rabbinic literature and the substitution of Aquila by Onkelos in Babylonian academies; the decanonization of the book of Ben Sira in Rabbinic literature. The author concludes that, if a canon is the ability of a text to produce and authorize commentary deconstructing its original context by generalization, decanonization is the inverse way of contextualizing a canonical text by reconstructing the supposed original context.

Currents in Biblical Research 2006, 5/1:

  • M. Avioz, “The Book of Kings in Recent Research (Part II)”

  • C. W. Griffin, “Digital Imaging: Looking Toward the Future of Manuscript Research”

  • M. Myllykoski, “James the Just in History and Tradition: Perspectives of Past and Present Scholarship (Part I)”

  • T. A. Wilson, “The Law of Christ and the Law of Moses: Reflections on a Recent Trend in Interpretation.”

Textual criticism

Sôfer Mahîr: Essays in Honour of Adrian Schenker Offered by Editors of Biblia Hebraica Quinta. 2006. Y.A. Goldman, A. van der Kooij, and R.D. Weis, eds. Brill. These essays in honor of Adrian Schenker address a variety of issues and topics in the field of textual criticism and the textual history of the Hebrew Bible. Except for the Book of Kings, the contributors are editors of individual biblical books for the Biblia Hebraica Quinta. The topics of the essays range from assessments of the overall textual situation for a particular book to investigations of translation technique to studies of particularities in the Leningrad Codex and its Masorah.

Philippe Hugo. 2006. Les deux visages d’Élie: texte massorétique et Septante dans l’histoire la plus ancienne du texte de 1 Rois 17-18. Academic/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. H. presents a comparative study of the MT and LXX of 1 Kings 17–18 and related passages, in an attempt to determine whether the differences are due to the translation or transmission of the Greek, or to a Hebrew text-type different from the proto-MT. He concludes, based on his textual and literary study, that the underlying Hebrew text was an older text than the proto-MT, which for theological reasons modified the portrayals of Elijah and Ahab, as well as the characterization of idolatry. For a review by Graeme Auld in RBL: http://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=5360

Arie van der Kooij. 2006. “Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible: Its Aim and Method.” In Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov, 729-739. S.M. Paul, R.A. Kraft, L.H. Schiffman, and W.W. Fields, eds. Brill.

Bruce M. Metzger. 2006. Un comentario textual al Nuevo Testamento Griego. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft/Sociedades Biblicas Unidas. Spanish translation by Moisés Silva and Alfredo Tepox of Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World. 2006. T.J. Kraus and T. Nicklas, eds. Brill. Twelve essays deal with the conditions under which manuscripts from the early days of Christianity were produced and transmitted, specific individual manuscripts, and special features observed in and with the help of various manuscripts. In a final essay by Stanley Porter, “Textual Criticism in the Light of Diverse Textual Evidence for the Greek New Testament: An Expanded Proposal,” the usual method of how to organize and categorize New Testament manuscripts is challenged and an alternative method proposed.

Bart D. Ehrman. 2006. Studies in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Brill. This book is a collection of E.’s contributions to the textual criticism of the New Testament made over the past twenty years, including 15 previously published articles and six lectures. A general essay gives an introduction to the field, several essays deal with text-critical method, especially pertaining to the classification of the Greek manuscript witnesses, two articles treat the history of the text, several articles treat specific textual problems, and three articles discuss the use of patristic evidence for establishing the text and the history of its transmission. The six lectures are designed to show the importance not only of reconstructing an allegedly “original” text but also of recognizing how that text was changed by scribes of the early Christian centuries.

Larry W. Hurtado. 2006. The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Eerdmans. H. studies the formal aspects (i.e., physical form) of ancient Christian manuscripts, including use of the codex form, nomina sacra, the staurogram, etc. An article by the same title in the SBL Forum outlines Hurtado’s interest: http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=304

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Translation, Language, Culture


Translation - Theory and Practice: A Historical Reader. 2006. D. Weissbort and A. Eysteinsson, eds. OUP. In this translation reader (see also Venuti 2000, noted in TT 46), the excerpts of both theoretical writings and translations are arranged to elucidate the complexities of translation history and to point to the links between theory and practice. Translations of texts of the Bible and Homer are traced through the ages, with the same passages excerpted, making it possible for readers to construct their own map of the evolution of translation and to evaluate, in their historical contexts, the variety of approaches. Though the emphasis is on the English tradition, a number of non-English texts, such as Martin Luther’s “Circular Letter on Translation,” help to set the English tradition in a wider context. Some of the authors and subjects: Classical Latin and Early Christian Latin Translation; Martin Luther; William Tyndale; The Catholic Bible in England; The Authorized Version of the Bible; Women Translators from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century; Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig; Eugene Nida; Ethnopoetics: Translation of the Oral and of Oral Performance; Everett Fox.

An Anthology of Chinese Discourse on Translation Volume 1: From Earliest Times to the Buddhist Project. 2006. M.P.Y. Cheung, ed. St. Jerome. The first volume of this anthology of Chinese writings on translation covers a time-frame from about the 5th century BCE to the 12th century CE, dealing especially with translation in civil and government contexts, and with the Buddhist sutra translation. The second volume will span the 13th century CE to the Revolution of 1911. Containing over 250 passages, the anthology offers primary material not previously available in English, allowing access to a translation tradition markedly different from that of the West.

The first issue of the new journal The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter (1/1 2007) includes an article by Christopher Stone, “Deaf Translators/Interpreters’ Rendering Processes: The Translation of Oral Languages,” (53-72). S. studies the rendering of English to British Sign Language within television settings to identify ways in which written languages are translated into oral languages. He compares the distribution of blinks in Deaf and hearing translators/interpreters to illuminate the role of preparation and rehearsal, and uses think-aloud-protocols to explore whether differences between the two groups point to a contrast between translation and interpretation processes. From his study of similarities and differences between Deaf and hearing translators, he is able to identify a Deaf translation norm, which can provide guidance to hearing translators. (from published abstract)

Jean Boase-Beier. 2006. Stylistic Approaches to Translation. St. Jerome. This book attempts to answer the question of how translators take the style of the source text into account in creating a target text. The author situates approaches to style within general trends in linguistics and literary criticism and assesses their place in translation studies. Some of the issues addressed are the link between style and meaning, interpretation of stylistic clues in the text, differences between literary and non-literary texts, and more practical questions about the recreation of stylistic effects. Underlying the book is the notion that knowledge of theory can affect the way we translate. Theories that describe what we know in a general sense can become part of what an individual translator knows, opening the way for greater awareness and also greater creativity in the act of translation.

Kirsten Malmkjaer. 2005. Linguistics and the Language of Translation. Edinburgh University Press. M.’s textbook includes chapters on the development of translation studies in the West and contemporary approaches to translation. Five practical chapters cover sounds and rhythms, lexis, collocation and semantic prosody, texture, register, cohesion, coherence, implicature, speech and text acts, text and genre analysis, clausal thematicity and transitivity, and the expression through language choices of ideological positions.

Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation. 2005. S. Bermann and M. Wood, eds. Princeton University Press. The essays are grouped into four sections (translation as medium and across media; ethics of translation; translation and difference; beyond the nation) and cover a range of topics: distinctions between “the original” and its reproductions, globalization redefining national and cultural boundaries; simultaneous translation and legal theory, language of exile, language of new nations; press, cinema, cultures and languages from contemporary Bengal to ancient Japan.

Translation and Context” is a thematic issue of Journal of Pragmatics (2006 38/3) edited by M. Baker, including two general theoretical articles:

  • Contextualization in Translator- and Interpreter-mediated Events, M. Baker, surveys recent thinking on the notions of context and contextualization in pragmatics and linguistic anthropology and examines the extent to which these notions have explicitly or implicitly informed current thinking on translation and interpreting. Closer attention to processes of contextualization in the production and reception of translated texts and interpreted utterances can tell us much more about the goals and ideological positioning of participants than a static listing of contextual variables.

  • Text and Context in Translation, J. House, reviews several conceptions of context and the relationship between text and context in a number of different disciplines; presents a theory of translation as a theory of re-contextualization that explicates the relationship between context and text in its design and categorial scheme; and sketches recent developments in translation and multilingual text production which may limit the scope of re-contextualization in translation. (adapted from the published abstracts)

Paulo Edson Alves Filho and John Milton. 2005. “Inculturation and Acculturation in the Translation of Religious Texts: The Translations of Jesuit Priest José de Anchieta into Tupi in 16th Century Brazil.” Target 17/2:275-296. The authors describe the translation of religious texts by the Jesuit missionary José de Anchieta in Brazil in the 16th century. Anchieta showed a readiness to mix Catholic and native Tupi terms in order to achieve the acculturation of the Tupi people to Catholicism, but the inculturation remained at a superficial level, as he used terms from the Tupi spiritual world but did not attempt to understand their usage in Tupi culture. (adapted from published abstract)

Paola Toninato. 2006. “Translating Gypsies: Nomadic Writing and the Negotiation of Romani Identity.” The Translator 12/2:233-251. T. argues that Romani authors are acting as translating subjects in two ways: by being translators of Romani texts, and as Roma activists engaged in “translating” their culture for non-Gypsy audiences. An important part of Romani literature is devoted to autoethnography, conceived as a strategy of the Roma to represent themselves “through the eyes of the other” without losing their cultural specificity. A crucial factor in this context is the growing use and appreciation of a unifying Romani language, Romanes. Increased use of Romanes in written form presents new opportunities for translating Roma to challenge asymmetrical power relations. (adapted from published abstract)

Meta (2006) 51/4. “Langue, traduction et mondialisation : interactions d’hier, interactions d’aujourd’hui / Language, Translation and Globalization: Interactions from Yesterday, Interactions from Today.” Some of the titles in this issue:


Linguistic Universals. 2006. R. Mairal and J. Gil, eds. Cambridge University Press. The essays consider how different linguistic theories have dealt with the question of universals, providing an overview of work on linguistic universals, with chapters on syntax, semantics, phonology, morphology, and typology. A range of issues is addressed—for example, the relationship between linguistic universals and the language faculty, and what universals suggest about human biological make-up and cognitive abilities.

Space in Languages: Linguistic Systems and Cognitive Categories. 2006. M. Hickmann and S. Robert, eds. Benjamins. The essays from various disciplines treat fundamental questions about the nature of space in language, the linguistic relativity of space, the relation between spatial language and cognition. Findings concerning spatial perception and cognition suggest the existence of two distinct systems governing linguistic and non-linguistic representations, but also show the strong impact of language-specific factors on the process of language acquisition and cognitive development. Some of the titles:

  • Encoding the distinction between location, source, and destination: A typological study, D. Creissels

  • The expression of static location in a typological perspective, C. Grinevald

  • What makes manner of motion salient? Explorations in linguistic typology, discourse, and cognition, D.I. Slobin

  • Are there spatial prepositions? C. Vandeloise

  • Deictic space in Wolof: Discourse, syntax and the importance of absence, S. Robert

  • The representation of spatial structure in spoken and signed language, L. Talmy

  • Iconicity and space in French sign language, M.-A. Sallandre

  • On the very idea of a frame of reference, J. Dokic and E. Pacherie

  • Spatial language and spatial representation: Autonomy and interaction, B. Landau and L. Lakusta

Voice and Grammatical Relations: In Honor of Masayoshi Shibatani. 2006. T. Tsunoda and T. Kageyama, eds. Benjamins. These papers deal with various aspects of voice and grammatical relations from typological, functional, and cognitive perspectives, including the nature of grammatical relations, voice in agent/patient systems, the expression vs. non-expression of participant roles, and personal vs. impersonal passives.

Lourens de Vries. 2006. “Areal Pragmatics of New Guinea: Thematization, Distribution and Recapitulative Linkage in Papuan Narratives.” Journal of Pragmatics 38/6:811-828. Papuan speech communities in New Guinea share a number of specific discourse preferences that are used in similar ways in certain genres. This article focuses on three discourse practices as they operate in narrative texts: thematization (a strong preference for Theme, Predication or Left Dislocation constructions), distribution (a strong preference to distribute nominals over series of clauses and of modifiers over series of phrases) and recapitulative linkage (connecting clause chains or sentences by tail–head linkage). Many aspects of the typology of Papuan languages, from demonstrative topic markers to experiential, subordinate, and perception complement constructions, can be understood from the perspective of these discourse preferences of Papuan speakers. But the identification of these patterns also has methodological implications for the way field linguists transcribe and analyze whole texts or single expressions from these languages. Ignoring these discourse practices may lead to distortions in the transcription and collection of data and in the grammatical description of these languages. (from the published abstract) Two other recent articles from Lourens: “Towards a Typology of Tail-head Linkage in Papuan Languages,” Studies in Language 29/2 (2005) 363-384; “Wambon,” In Morphology. An International Handbook on Inflection and Word-formation, G. Booij, C. Lehmann, J. Mugdan and S. Skopetas, eds., vol. 2, 1501-1505 (de Gruyter, 2005).

Advances in the Sign Language Development of Deaf Children. 2006. B. Schick, M. Marschark, and P.E. Spencer, eds. Oxford University Press.

  • Understanding Sign Language Development by Deaf Children, M. Marschark, B. Schick, and P. Spencer

  • Issues of Linguistic Typology in the Study of Sign Language Development of Deaf Children, D. Slobin

  • The Development of Gesture in Hearing and Deaf Children, V. Volterra, J.M. Iverson, and M. Castrataro

  • Patterns and Effects of Language Input to Deaf Infants and Toddlers from Deaf and Hearing Mothers, P. Spencer and M. Harris

  • Acquiring a Visually-Motivated Language, B. Schick

  • Lexical Development of Deaf Children Acquiring Signed Languages, D. Anderson

  • Deaf Children Are Verb Attenders, N. Hoiting

  • Learning to Fingerspell Twice, C. Padden

  • The Form of Early Signs, R. Meier

  • Acquisition of Syntax in Signed Languages, D. Lillo-Martin and D. Chen Pichler

  • How Faces Come to Serve Grammar, J. Reilly

  • Deaf Children’s Acquisition of Modal Terms, B. Shaffer

  • The Development of Narrative Skills in British Sign Language, G. Morgan

  • Natural Signed Language Acquisition Within the Social Context of the Classroom, J. Singleton and D. Morgan.

Beyond Misunderstanding: Linguistic Analyses of Intercultural Communication. 2006. K. Bührig and J.D. ten Thije, eds. Benjamins. The contributions in this volume analyze to what extent instances of discourse are institutionally and/or interculturally determined. The studies involve different theoretical frameworks—functional grammar, systemic functional linguistics, functional pragmatics, rhetorical conversation analysis, ethno-methodological conversation analysis, linguistic anthropology and a critical discourse approach. Some titles:

  • The Cultural Apparatus: Thoughts on the Relationship Between Language, Culture, and Society, J. Rehbein

  • The Notions of Perspective and Perspectivising in Intercultural Communication Research, J.D. Ten Thije

  • Beyond ‘Misunderstandings’ and ‘Cultural Stereotypes’: Analysing Intercultural Communication, J. Hartog

  • Ethnic and Social Groups and Their Linguistic Categorization, Dennis Day

  • Where Do ‘We’ Fit In? Linguistic Inclusion and Exclusion in a Virtual Community, L. Fontaine

  • Beyond Competence: A Multiculturalist Approach to Intercultural Communication, Xu Shi

Steven Mithen. 2006. The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body. Harvard University Press. M. draws on archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, and musicology in an exploration of music as a fundamental aspect of the human condition, encoded into the human genome during the evolutionary history of the species. He marshals evidence about social organization, tool and weapon technologies, hunting and scavenging strategies, habits and brain capacity of all the hominid ancestors, and comes up with a scenario for a shared musical and linguistic heritage.


Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion. 2006. T. Omoniyi and J.A. Fishman, eds. Benjamins. The studies in this volume explore how the shared interests of language and religion impact social practices in various communities around the world. The authors utilize resources from a variety of geographical, cultural, linguistic and religious groups.

  • A Decalogue of Basic Theoretical Perspectives for a Sociology of Language and Religion, J.A. Fishman

  • Religion and Traditional Beliefs in West African English: A Linguistic Analysis, H.-G. Wolf

  • Eastern-Christian Tradition and the Georgian Language, T. Bolkvadze

  • Religion, Social History, and Language Maintenance: African Languages in Post-Apartheid South Africa, N.M. Kamwangamalu

  • Creating God in Our Own Image: The Attributes of God in the Yoruba Socio-Cultural Environment, L.O. Salami

  • Societal Multilingualism and Multifaithism: A Sociology of Language and Religion Perspective, T. Omoniyi

  • Ideology, Authority, and Language Choice: Language of Religion in South Asia, R.V. Pandharipande

  • The Shifting Role of Languages in Lebanese Christian and Moslem Identities, J.E. Joseph

  • Language and Religion in Bethlehem: A Socio-Historical Linguistic Perspective, M.H. Amara

  • The Role of Language in Some Ethnic Churches in Melbourne, A. Woods

  • Language Use and Religious Practice: The Case of Singapore, Phyllis G.L. Chew

  • Jewish Prayers as Sociolinguistic Factors Integrating Jewish Religious Discourse Communities, P. P. Chruszczewski

  • The Shamanic Book: Diversity, Language and Writing in an Indigenous Community in Brazil, L.M.T. Menezes de Souza

Jan Assmann. 2006. Religion and Cultural Memory: Ten Studies. Stanford University Press. Translation by Rodney Livingstone of Religion und kulturelles Gedächtnis. The author studies the connections between religion, culture, and memory, developing a view of the life of the past in such surface phenomena as codes, religious rites and festivals, and canonical texts on the one hand, and in the Freudian psychodrama of repressing and resurrecting the past on the other. A. focuses on cultural memory from the Egyptians, Babylonians, and the Osage Indians, as well as the role of memory in some current situations. One of the studies is “Five Stages on the Road to the Canon: Tradition and Written Culture in Ancient Israel and Early Judaism.”

Robert Harding. 2006. “Historical Representations of Aboriginal People in the Canadian News Media.” Discourse & Society 17/2:205-235. Using methods of critical discourse analysis, H. examines newspaper coverage of four “flashpoints” in the history of aboriginal/non-aboriginal relations in Canada, contrasting mid-19th and late-20th-century representations of aboriginal people in the media. He considers such elements as the news frames employed, the way meaning is structured through the use of equations, oppositions, headlines, lead paragraphs, sources, and other techniques. A significant finding of this study is the degree to which news discourse about aboriginal people has remained constant over the last century and half. In the 1990s, these issues were framed, much as they were in colonial times, in ways that protect dominant interests and signify aboriginal people as a threat. (from the published abstract)

Ebrahim Moosa. 2006. “Contrapuntal Readings in Muslim Thought: Translations and Transitions.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 74/1:107-118. A diverse and cosmopolitan world requires the production of knowledge that will sustain such complexity. Central to that goal is to ask how we relate to formative documents and exemplars located in a distant past. The reading of texts, the demands of continuity within traditions and commitment to canons while also being open to creativity are among the challenges. To resist the homogenization of both the past and the present, we require sensitive tools and theoretical applications. Otherwise, we tend to colonize the past and announce the death of certain forms of knowledge while privileging and preserving other kinds of knowledge as a result of the conjunctions of knowledge and power. Engaging in contrapuntal readings and acknowledging the processes of transculturation could be one way to minimize such effects. (from the published abstract)

Daniele M. Klapproth. 2004. Narrative as Social Practice: Anglo-Western and Australian Aboriginal Oral Traditions. Mouton de Gruyter. K. investigates the interrelatedness of narrative and culture by contrasting the oral storytelling traditions of two widely divergent cultures— Anglo-Western culture and the Central Australian culture of the Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara Aborigines. Arguing for the adoption of a communication-oriented and cross-cultural perspective as a prerequisite for understanding the cultural variability of narrative practice, K. presents detailed textual analyses of Anglo-Western and Australian Aboriginal oral narratives, and contextualizes them with respect to the different storytelling practices, values and worldviews in both cultures.

Amit Pinchevski. 2005. By Way of Interruption: Levinas and the Ethics of Communication. Duquesne University Press. “Ethical communication does not ultimately lie in the successful completion of communication but rather in its interruption; that is, in instances where communication falls short, goes astray, or even fails.”

Kristin Beise Kiblinger. 2006. Buddhist Inclusivism: Attitudes Towards Religious Others. Ashgate. K. analyzes the currently favored position towards religious others in Buddhist traditions. She presents examples of inclusivism from a wide range of contexts and periods, from Pali texts to the Dalai Lama’s recent works. After constructing and defending a preferred, alternative form of Buddhist inclusivism, K. evaluates the thought of particular contemporary Buddhists in light of her ideal position.

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News & Notes


Traducción de la Biblia has a new format. Check it out at www.traducciondelabiblia.org. The current feature article is “Traducción de las Escrituras y teología: algunas lecciones del cristianismo primitivo. Introducción: el estatus de la Septuaginta en el cristianismo primitivo,” by Dr. Kwame Bediako of Ghana.

There’s also a new look for the public UBS translation site at www.ubs-translations.org. Remember that you can access the entire Bible Translator archive up to volume 50, and search TBT citations up to the present.

The International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies has launched The IATIS Comp@ss (http://www.iatis.org/compass), “the most comprehensive collection of information and resources on translation and intercultural studies available online.”

Thousands of books are available online, through Google Books and other services. A recent article on the SBL Forum provides useful links that will help you locate books in biblical studies that are freely accessible (“The Wired Scholar: Five Free Tools You May Not Know About,” by Danny Zacharias). One such link is to a site maintained by Mischa Hooker, “Bible, Judaism, Christianity via Google Book Search,” and another by Bob Buller, “Free Books in Biblical Studies and Related Fields.”

End of TIC TALK 63, 2007.

May, 2007

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