On Friday we started our new Intro to Translation Studies series with a brief overview of the background of the field, discussing translation theorists before there was any solid translation theory. Whilst little was being done in the field of translation studies, linguistics had always seemed to be around and everybody believed it was more than sufficient in its own right to describe any phenomena that could occur in translation.
For many years, any study of translation fell into the hands of linguists, at least until the late 1950s and early 1960s, when scholars felt that translation needed its own academic discipline. Slowly but surely, translation studies was born.
The first translation theories were still founded in linguistics. As linguistics is the study of language and translation was definitely a language-based activity, basing the initial theories within linguistics seemed almost inevitable. For a while, this would do just fine. The field hardly boomed and struggled with attempts at becoming a globally-recognised discipline.
This linguistic-based view of translation would later be referred to as the linguistic turn, with two more turns coming. These first theorists were generally from North America and Western Europe, Britain in particular.
Jean-Paul Vinay and Jean Darbelnet were two linguistic translation theorists during the linguistic turn. Though both were born in Paris, France, they would later emigrate to Canada, where they would complete their most influential works in translation studies.
|A British shorthair, perhaps named John...|
Vinay and Darbelnet mainly worked between the languages of French and English, using Quebec and the Northeast of the United States as their inspiration for analysing the two languages through comparative linguistics.
British-born John Catford would further add to translation studies' budding corpus, basing his work firmly in the field of linguistics, as would be expected from someone who studied phonetics.
American Eugene Nida was famed for his theory on dynamic equivalence which he devised principally for Bible translations. He should also be noted for the ideas of foreignization and domestication which we will be covering later in the series.
These four translation theorists are certainly not the only four to have contributed to translation studies' linguistic turn, but we certainly felt they would be apt examples to whet your appetite as we approach the next milestone in our story, the cultural turn.
Part 1 | Part 2