Anthony Pym


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Translation and text transfer

Page numbers refer to original edition, 1992

Introduction 13
1. Translation depends on transfer 17
Transfer and translation work on distance 17
Transfer is a precondition for translation 18
Exactly what is transferred? 20
Translation can be intralingual or interlingual 25
Translation can be approached from transfer 27
Transfer can be approached through translation 29
How these approaches are used in this essay 32

2. Equivalence defines translation 37
Equivalence could be all things to all theorists 37
Equivalence is directional and subjectless 38
Equivalence is asymmetrical 40
Value is an economic term 42
Equivalence is an economic term 44
Equivalence is not a natural relation between systems 46
Equivalence has become unfashionable 47

 3. "I am translating" is false 51
The translator is anonymous 51
The utterance "I am translating" is necessarily false 53
Can interpreters say they are frightened? 54
Second persons can be anonymous 56
Third persons allow translators to talk 58
Does anyone speak Redford's language? 60
Third persons can conflict 62
Ideal equivalence can be challenged 63

4. Quantity speaks 67
Quantities replace the translator 67
Quantity is of practical and theoretical importance 69
Equivalence is absolute, relative, contradictory or not at all 70
A. Transliteration (absolute equivalence) 73
The proper name is sometimes improper 73
B. Double presentation (strong relative equivalence) 76
Relative equivalence presents asymmetry 76
Relative equivalence tends to paraphrase ("La Movida" moves) 79
Why translational paraphrase tends to stop at sentence level 81
C. Single presentation (weak relative equivalence) 83
Single presentation hides at least one quantity 83
Simple signs indicate expansion and addition, abbreviation and deletion 84
Notes are expansion by another name 85
Abbreviation and deletion can be difficult to justify 88
Authoritative subjectivity allows addition and deletion 89
Expansion and addition can run into political trouble 93
D. Multiple presentation (contradictory equivalence) 95
Some translations become originals 95
Some translations last as monuments 98

5. Texts belong 101
Transfer and translation work against belonging 101
There are no solo performances 103
Distance can break performance 105
Transferability has second-person thresholds 106
Textual worlds increase transferability 108
Transfer may call for explication 109
Absolute explicitness is rarely transferred 110
Belonging may be a tone of voice 111
Belonging may work on implicit knowledge 112
Belonging may work on forgotten knowledge 113
The tongue carries forgotten belonging 115
Embeddedness is complex belonging 118
Cultural embeddedness conditions translational difficulty 121
Texts belong 125

6. Texts move 127
Movement is change 127
Texts do not fall from the sky 128
Textual movements are not natural needs 128
Parallel texts are not really translations 130
Why "La Movida" moved 132
Texts are like sails raised to the wind 136
Networks are complex, quantitative and contradictory 138
Regimes are ways of representing and acting within networks 140
Translation histories are deceptively diachronic 145
Translation plays an active historical role 147
Translation history could be based on regimes 149

7. Translation rules are ethical decisions 151
Ethics is a professional concern 151
Translators are rarely above suspicion 152
Inspiration may have come to isolated cells on Pharos 154
Nec translatores debent esse soli 156
Isolated inspiration is also regulated 157
There can be no ethics of linguistic neutrality 159
To translate is to attempt improvement 162
Translators' first loyalty should not fall one side or the other 163
Professional detachment is attachment to a profession 166
Translation has purposes of its own 168
Regimes and the training of translators 173

8. Translators theorise175
Theorisation is part of translational competence 175
Theorisation is the basis of translation criticism 176
Translation errors are not necessarily mistakes 178
Critical theorisation is a negation of transfer and translation 179
Theory first expresses doubt 181
Explicit theorisation responds to conflict in practice 184
Linguistics is of limited use 184
Generality should begin from translation 186
Translation theory should be pertinent to translation 188
Translation theory should not lecture translators 189
Translation theory should address the social sciences 191

Notes 195
Bibliography 214
Index 225

© Anthony Pym 2014
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