Translation Studies and Its Turns

Translation Studies and Its Turns

Research, Ideas, Issues

In my blog, I am going to publish fragments of my current research, or share my ideas about what I come across in the publications I read or in the materials I study, or discuss issues in Translation Studies which, I think, call for a discussion. My posts do not claim to be anything more than work in progress and are inevitably of fragmentary nature. I count on my readers and their expertise to fill in the blanks and to contextualize discussions, whenever necessary. All borrowings must be acknowledged.
NB: The posts are published so that the newest one comes first and shown on the main page, therefore the older ones are to be found the section "Previous Posts." The New Testament principle is at work: the first will become the last.

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LXX Studies and TS

TranslationPosted by Sergey Tyulenev Tue, May 14, 2013 09:27:57

Quite surprisingly, I have recently found publications where an attempt is made to bring TS and another discipline in the humanities together. Quite surprisingly—because I would not depart too far from the truth if I say that by and large, TS is not commonly recognized as a sister discipline in the humanities domain. At most, TS is seen as an applied branch of linguistics or literary studies. I would not discuss the reasons for that here. What I want to briefly relate is a positive counter-example.

I’ve been looking for examples for the book I’m writing now on how the social informs individual translators’ decisions. To provide fresh examples (rather than discuss or cite what has been commonly researched in TS mostly focussed on our time), I turned to a famous (and perhaps the most famous) translation—the Septuagint. By pure serendipity, I came across a couple of volumes where this translation is discussed by Septuagint scholars not independently, but with reliance on translation scholars. I have not seen too many books or articles, discussing the literature or language of a particular period in a particular place where and when translation played a significant role, citing time and again TS scholars, looking to them for methodologies of translation research. On the contrary, when I was in Cambridge, most notable medievalists would study Rus’ian history or Petrine and post-Petrine Russia knowing nothing of parallel research in TS. The contrary also holds true, as I showed in a couple of my own publications.

And here I open a book whose subtitle is “Towards an Interaction of Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies,” and read the following in the very first line: “The aim of this study is to promote interaction between Translation Studies and the study of the Septuagint with a keen eye to methodology”! The author, Theo A.W. van der Louw states the fact that, although “the Septuagint is a translation,” and “in fact, the most important translation of the pre-Christian era and intensively researched,” “Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies lead separate lives. Although one of the first major translations, the Septuagint has largely been neglected by Translation Studies, and, although a translation, it has barely been studied with the help of methods from Translation Studies” (Transformations in the Septuagint: Towards an Interaction of Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies).

Van der Louw delineates a brief history of the interaction between Septuagint [LXX] Studies and Translation Studies. According to him, in the 1970s, Jan de Waard was amongst a first modest attempt to study LXX as a translation (that is, as what it is!). But his work drew little attention from LXX scholars: “Works from Translation Studies […] have nearly gone unnoticed.” But “the tide is turning.” For instance, Boyd-Taylor draws on the translation theory of Gideon Toury and historical Translation Studies. In a Septuagint scholarly congress in 2004 in Leyden a panel was dedicated to the study of the possibilities of interaction between the descriptive branch of TS and LXX Studies. In 2005, an interdisciplinary symposium was held at the Helsinki University with the focus on translation in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Considering the translation techniques analysis in LXX Studies, van der Louw concludes: “Insights from Translation Studies can offer a helpful correction to the methods used in Septuagint research, since they force the researcher to explain more precisely which ‘free renderings’ result from linguistic demands and which are the result of the translator’s exegesis.”

Then van der Louw passes on to the topic “The Septuagint in Translation Studies,” but I have to run to a university meeting and that part will have to wait.

To be cont.

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