DEFINITIONS OF TRANSLATION
How can we then go about defining the phenomenon of ‘translation’ and what the study of it entails? If we look at a general dictionary, we find the following definition of the term translation:
- the act or an instance of translating.
- a written or spoken expression of the meaning of a word, speech, book, etc. in another language.
(The Concise Oxford English Dictionary)
The first of these two senses relates to translation as a process, the second to the product. This immediately means that the term translation encompasses very distinct perspectives. The first sense focuses on the role of the translator in taking the original or source text (ST) and turning it into a text in another language (the target text, TT). The second sense centres on the concrete translation product produced by the translator. This distinction is drawn out by the definition in the specialist Dictionary of Translation Studies (Shuttleworth and Cowie 1997:181):
Translation: An incredibly broad notion which can be understood in many different ways. For example, one may talk of translation as a process or a product, and identify such sub-types as literary translation, technical translation, subtitling and machine translation; moreover, while more typically it just refers to the transfer of written texts, the term sometimes also includes interpreting.
This definition introduces further variables, first the ‘sub-types’, which include not only typically written products such as literary and technical translations, but also translation forms that have been created in recent decades, such as audiovisual translation, a written product which is read in conjunction with an image on screen (cinema, television, DVD or computer game).Moreover, the reference to machine translation reveals that translation is now no longer the preserve of human translators but, in a professional context, increasingly a process and product that marries computing power and the computerized analysis of language to the human’s ability to analyse sense and determine appropriate forms in the other language.
Our threefold definition of the ambit of translation will thus be:
- The process of transferring a written text from SL to TL, conducted by a translator, or translators, in a specific socio-cultural context.
- The written product, or TT, which results from that process and which functions in the socio-cultural context of the TL.
- The cognitive, linguistic, visual, cultural and ideological phenomena which are an integral part of 1 and 2.
Based on: Basil Hatim and Jeremy Munday (2004). Translation, An advanced resource book . Routledge.