What is Translation Studies?
As a student of translation studies, and as a first step in the path of an academic study of translation, the very first thing you need to do after choosing this major, is to be able to know what Translation Studies is, and where it did come from. On this page, we too started our path towards introducing translation studies by giving you a little bit about what is translation studies. In this article, we used two important resources: Introducing Translation Studies 4th edition by Jeremy Munday, and Translation: An Advanced Resource Book by Basil Hatim and Jeremy Munday. These two books are two fundamental cornerstones for an academic study of translation.
Throughout history, translation has played a crucial role in communication. As world trade grown, so has the importance of translation. Study of translation as an academic subject only really began in second half of the 20th century. Thanks to James S. Holmes, this discipline in English world is known as Translation Studies. There are four visible ways in which translation studies has become more prominent:
- With increasing demand for translation. there has been several specialized translating and interpreting programs. These programs were to make commercial translators and interpreters which their degree was so valued. Types of translation programs varied in different institutions, like a technical or audiovisual translation. And a few of these focused on the practice of literary translation.
- Increasing amount of conferences, books, and journals in many languages.
- increasing demand for general and analytical instruments, like databases, encyclopedias and etc.
- International organizations also had an impact. They brought together national associations of translation. There are some associations for bonding translators and gathering them, international conferences on a wide variety of themes are held in lots of countries.
An early history of translation studies
Translation was so important for the distribution of key cultural and religious texts and concepts. Some authors and figures proposed a way to translate and were influential. The major battleground was the translation of the Bible, but studies on this subject started in the latter part of 20th century as an academic subject. Before that, translation was considered a part of language learning in schools and dominated by the grammar-translation method. Their focus was mainly on the study of grammatical rules and structures. Students were reading the product until they gain the ability to read the original. After a while, GTM method had a bad reputation and alternative forms rose: Direct Method and Communicative Approach. They tried to make authentic language environment, preferred spoken language over written language, and avoided the use of mother tongue. This separated translation from language learning. Translation went to higher levels like universities.
In 60s USA, literary translation was promoted by the concept of translation workshop. This was based on studying criticism. The goal was to introduce new ways to translation process and understanding a text. Alongside this approach, there was comparative literature, where literature studied and compared and necessitating the reading of translation products. Another area of the importance of subject was contrastive linguistics: study of two languages in contrast to identifying differences between them. Translations and translated products served as an input for this study. After a while, linguistic approach began to study translation and the word science and a scientific investigation began to be used by Nida.
Is Translation a Discipline, Interdiscipline or Multidiscipline?
One of the important aspects of recent research is its interdisciplinarity. The nature of interdisciplinarity, according to McCarty goes: it is not easily understood, funded or managed in a world that already divided along disciplinary lines. It exists in the interstices of the existing fields dealing with all, some or many of them. It is enigmatic. An interdiscipline therefore challenges the current conventional way of thinking by promoting and responding to new links between different types of knowledge and technologies. McCarty sees the ‘conventional’ disciplines having either a ‘primary’ or a ‘secondary’ relationship to a new Interdiscipline (like translation studies). In translation studies, the primary relationship is with disciplines like linguistics, modern languages and language studies, comparative literature, cultural studies (including gender studies and postcolonial studies), philosophy, and recently, with sociology, history and creative writing. Some current projects are also multidisciplinary, involving the participation of researchers from various disciplines, including translation studies. the relationship of translation studies to other disciplines is not fixed and can change. Even the object of study has shifted over time. Among these some, like Daniel Gile, have seen it as a threat.
Nowadays, Translation Studies is regarded as an intediscipline which studies translation systematically. It studies how translation is manifested theoretically and practically.