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The Translational is the science of interpreting and translating . In the German academic discourse, the term translation studies predominates. Occasionally it is also simply referred to as translation science, although this term strictly speaking excludes the interpreting science, which is also part of translatology .

The distinction between translation and interpreting in modern translation studies goes back to Otto Kade , although the translation scholar himself rejected the concept of translation studies as strange. The distinguishing criterion here is the possibility of repeated corrections, which requires a fixed source and target text. A fixed source text (usually in writing) is translated from one language into an equally fixed target text in another language; In contrast , a non-fixed and / or one-time (mostly oral) source text is interpreted into a non-fixed target text.

Unlike the Translational even this article does not deal with machine translation and computer-aided translation (computer-assisted translation, CAT), as market custom products exist.

Translatology sees itself as an interdiscipline . In addition to her core areas (explained in the next section), she also deals with issues of linguistics , computational linguistics , technical language research , technical documentation , terminology and terminography / lexicography , cultural sociology , communication science and psychology / brain physiology.

Sub-areas and questions

Translatology can be divided into a theoretical , a descriptive and an applied branch.

The descriptive translation studies describes the observable processes in the interpretation and translation and the resulting Translate (Interpreting and Translation). It can, for example, be product-oriented (description of translations, e.g. in the form of a translation comparison), process-oriented (description of the translation process, e.g. through introspection with think-aloud protocols ) or function -oriented (description of the effects and social significance of translates).

The Applied Translational deals with practical issues related to translation, as the interpreter and translator training, with tools for translators ( CAT tools, terminology management systems , etc.) or with the quality assessment of Trans distillates.

The theoretical Translatologie examined in their general shape models for the explanation the translation or the flow of interpreting itself. What exactly is going on in translation? In this area there are the points of contact between translatology and the cognitive and neurosciences . The special theoretical translatology, on the other hand, deals with delimited forms of translation, e.g. B. with a certain problem such as the translation of metaphors or with a certain language or culture pair.


Translatology as an independent interdisciplinary discipline is a child of the late 20th century, but thinking about languages ​​and translation is much older. Many philosophers and linguists have dealt with the problem of translation and interpreting . See also translation , philosophy of language , linguistics , language .

There have already been several paradigm shifts in the still young history of modern translation studies. The initially contrastive-linguistically oriented translation studies with the concept of equivalence as a central topic soon developed further in the direction of communicative and later functional approaches. At the same time, descriptive approaches have emerged which, with their cultural orientation, together with aspects of the functional approaches , have contributed to a paradigm shift ( cultural turn ). The most recent developments in translation studies (also influenced by increasing globalization) have moved in the direction of translation sociology, translation culture and translation ethics.

The concept of equivalence

For a long time, equivalence was the central term in the contrastive-linguistic early days of translation studies. There are many definitions of equivalence, but it is usually understood to mean the relationship between the source text (the “original”) and the target text (the translate). The exact nature of this relationship and what “value” should be kept invariant in translation has long been the subject of lively discussions. In the history of translation studies, there has been an increasing differentiation into different levels or types of equivalence. The bipolar distinction between formal vs. dynamic equivalence (Nida), which can be found in a similar way in other works (e.g. covert vs. overt translation by Juliane House or documentary vs. instrumental translation by Christiane Nord). A very differentiated elaboration of the term equivalence can be found in Werner Koller. It is important to say that the equivalence with the emergence of functionalist approaches (Scopo theory, etc.) was very much in the background of research and was largely replaced by the concept of (purpose-dependent) adequacy.

Equivalence types according to Koller

In 1992 Werner Koller distinguished between five different frames of reference "which play a role in determining the type of translation equivalence" (Koller 1992: 216):

  1. A denotative equivalence exists when the target text reflects the same non-linguistic issues as the source text.
  2. A connotative equivalence exists if the type of verbalization of facts in the source and target text causes comparable emotional and associative reactions.
  3. A text normative equivalence exists if the target text fulfills or breaks language and text standards in the same way as the source text . An example with the primary importance of text normative equivalence is the translation of package inserts for medicinal products. Different legal requirements often have to be met here in the country of origin and destination. If the source text is an acceptable US package insert, the target text must be an acceptable German package insert in order to establish normative equivalence, even if parts of the text have to be omitted, supplemented or rearranged.
  4. A pragmatic equivalence exists when the source and target texts fulfill their communicative function in the same way (information, entertainment, creating a sense of community, etc.) in a certain situation.
  5. A formal-aesthetic equivalence exists when the source and target text show an analogy of the design , whereby formal-aesthetic qualities are constitutive for literary texts. The translation of metaphors and language games within these literary texts falls into this area.

For every translation task, there are large quantities of different equivalence requirements. These equivalence requirements must be arranged in a hierarchy, since they can never all be met in the same way. Different translatological approaches differ particularly frequently and sharply in the extent to which this hierarchy is determined by the source text (preservation of as many aspects as possible) or the target text (as good as possible functionality), and in the extent to which the functions of a source text and one as a translate are assigned descriptive target text may differ from one another, i.e. how the definition of a translate, a translation or interpretation is to be formulated.

Equivalence in descriptive translation studies

In contrast to the normative-prescriptive approaches, which see the establishment of an equivalence (however defined in the special case) as a condition for the fact that a text is a translation, the descriptive translation studies (Toury et al.) Start from the Reality of translation. Accordingly, when examining actually existing translations, it is assumed that there is definitely a relationship (equivalence) between the source and target text. The nature of this relationship is essentially dependent on the applicable norms, which also determine the general understanding of translation in a culture; ie what counts as a translation depends on the (target culture) norms. So this approach is very strongly target culture-oriented and does not see the concept of equivalence as a means of defining what a translation is and what is not.

Functional translatology, scopo theory and translational action

In the 1980s and 1990s, translatology (especially in German-speaking countries) underwent a comprehensive reorientation, which is still controversially discussed today. One of the key works for this reorientation is the foundation of a general translation theory by Hans Josef Vermeer and Katharina Reiss .

Scopo theory

Translation is a form of action. Every action is determined by a situation, the analysis of this situation by the agent and the intention of an agent who wants to achieve certain goals. Like every action, translation is also intended as a communication action. The purpose of an act of communication, its Skopos (Gr.), Is fulfilled if the result achieved corresponds to the intention of the agent (the sender ) and the recipient of the communication can also interpret the received message conclusively in his own situation.

The Skopo theory now assumes that the purpose of a translate, to fulfill a certain function , is the determining factor to which the translation process must be oriented. A translate can basically have any function that can be fulfilled by a text; the assessment of a certain function as “good”, “sensible” or “ethical” is initially left out. This results in the conception of translations and interpreting as target language and target cultural information offers about other information offers in the source language and culture. In principle, the quality of a translate can only be assessed in terms of its function.

The following points form important principles of the scopo theory:

 1. The target text is determined by the Skopos;
 2. The target text is an offer of information in a target culture and language about an offer of information in a source culture and language;
 3. The target text clearly depicts an information offer that cannot be reversed;
 4. The target text must be coherent in itself;
 5. The target text must be consistent with the source text;
 6. The rules listed are arranged hierarchically (“chained”) in the order given.

The question of the evaluation of various translation functions as “correct”, “permissible” or “appropriate” as well as the definition of the term “translat” is particularly controversial about the scopo theory : where does the translation end?

Constructed example

A scientific article (a certain information offer in a certain linguistic and external form) appears in an English-language specialist journal. The content of the article is also of interest to scientists who prefer to read articles in German. So a translation should be made.

This translation could aim to fulfill functions in the target language and culture that are as similar as possible to the original article ( functional constancy ), then it would appear in a German-language specialist journal on the same subject after completion.

But it can also fulfill various other functions ( function variance ). For example, a single expert who does not speak English might want to find out about the content of the article and request an information translation. In this case, less emphasis would be placed on the sophisticated linguistic and external form of the translation. Another scientist may have some knowledge of English but finds it difficult to read complex articles in the foreign language. He first wants to know whether the effort is worthwhile and has an abstract translation made, a brief summary in the target language. A third one has a lot of time right now and wants to improve his English skills. He asks a translator to prepare a philological translation for him that shows the grammatical structures and text norms of the source language in the target language in order to clarify them. Many different approaches are conceivable for each source text, depending on the purpose of the translation.

Translational action

The translational action ( Justa Holz-Mänttäri 1984 et al.) Represents an extension of the Scopo theory and is an explanatory approach that also includes the ethically correct attitude of the professional translator . Here, too, it is assumed that many different translates with different objectives can be produced from one source text. In addition, the translator is required to advise the client of a translate about whether an interpretation or translation is necessary at all, and if so, in what form and with what precise intention. This is called product specification and should be as detailed as possible. After such clarification, the translator can request the necessary additional material, create a schedule and cost estimate, etc. The translator as a text designer therefore helps to specify the desired product first, then to manufacture it, and to ensure the quality.

Functional approaches

All branches of translatology that assume that the fulfillment of the purpose of the translate is the determining factor in the translation process are summarized as functional approaches. It should be pointed out here that functional translatology also provides for functionally constant translation (in the example above, the translation of a scientific journal article into a scientific journal article of a similar level) and not, as its opponents occasionally perceived, generally for "deviating", "free" or "Unfaithful" translate stands.

By taking into account the linguistic-cultural-historical situation (exploring the requirements for a translate), functional translatological approaches have a high explanatory value when examining historical translations (with requirements that sometimes deviate from today's ideas) and translations or interpreting outside the mainstream (with Requirements that sometimes differ from “generally applicable” ideas, such as feminist Bible translations).

Functional approaches are also an option for quality assurance and quality assessment, since partly unclear or implicit requirements for translate can be made explicit by precisely defining their purpose and function.

These principles can be seen today in translation management (Risku 2004) and in the ISO and DIN standards for translation services, e. B. DIN EN 15038.

Interpreting science

In the 1970s, a separate scientific discipline was established that deals with interpreting . At first, scientists from other areas, for example cognitive psychology , dealt with the phenomenon of simultaneous hearing and speaking (barik). Danica Seleskovitch , with the Théorie du Sens at the University of Paris, is widely considered to be one of the founders of modern interpretation. In the next phase, practitioners shared their experiences. With now more than 4,500 publications, the research goes into completely different areas than in translation. Important theories are Daniel Gile's capacity model and the process analysis according to Moser-Mercer, or the strategy analysis according to Kalina.

See also


  • Mona Baker (Ed.): Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge, New York 2001.
  • Susan Bassnett : Translation Studies. Routledge, New York 1980 (revised 1991; 2002).
  • Walter Benjamin : The Task of the Translator, an introduction to the translation of Les Fleurs du Mal , Préface.- German edition: The task of the translator , in: Drucke des Argonautenkreises , Verlag Richard Weissbach, Heidelberg 1923. German reprint 2016, ISBN 978 -3-86600-256-2 (with preface).
  • Antoine Berman : La traduction et la lettre ou l'auberge du lointain. Seuil, Paris 1991.
  • Antoine Berman: Pour une critique des traductions: John Donne . Gallimard, Paris 1994.
  • Antoine Berman, Isabelle Berman: L'âge de la traduction. "La tâche du traducteur" de Walter Benjamin, un commentaire . Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2008.
  • Magloire Kengne Fokoua: Methodological Problems of Translation. With special consideration of the translation procedures. Publishing house Dr. Kovac, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8300-4132-0 .
  • Larisa Cercel (Ed.): Translation and Hermeneutics / Traduction et herméneutique ( Memento of September 4, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). Zeta Books, Bucharest 2009, ISBN 978-973-1997-06-3 .
  • Evelyn Dueck: L'étranger intimate. Les traductions françaises de l'œuvre de Paul Celan (1971–2010) . De Gruyter, Berlin 2014.
  • Eliane Hareau, Lil Sclavo: El traductor, artífice reflexivo . Montevideo 2018, ISBN 978-9974-9319-5-4 (
  • Hans Hönig: Constructive translation . Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1995, ISBN 3-86057-240-7 .
  • Justa Holz-Mänttäri: Translational action. Theory and method . (= Annales Academiae Scientarum Fennicae. Ser. B. 226). Helsinki 1984, ISBN 951-41-0491-9 .
  • Justa Holz-Mänttäri: Text design - responsible and brain-friendly. In: Justa Holz-Mänttäri, Christiane Nord (Ed.): Traducere Navem. Festschrift for Katharina Reiss on her 70th birthday . Tampereen yliopisto, Tampere 1993, ISBN 951-44-3262-2 , pp. 301-320.
  • Werner Koller: Introduction to Translation Studies . Quelle and Meyer, Heidelberg 1992.
  • Ekkehard König, Volker Gast: Understanding English-German Contrasts. Berlin 2007.
  • Irène Kuhn : Antoine Berman's “productive” translation criticism. Design and testing of a method. Narr Francke Attempto , Tübingen 2007, ISBN 3-8233-4094-8 .
  • Judith Macheiner: Translate. A vademecum. ISBN 3-492-23846-7 .
  • Erich Prunč : Lines of Development in Translation Studies . Frank & Timme , Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-86596-146-4 .
  • Bastian Reinert: Translating Memory [in the documentary Night and Fog (film) ]: Acts of Testimony in Resnais , Cayrol , and Celan . In: Peter Arnds (Ed.): Translating Holocaust Literature. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2016, pp. 139–152.
  • Hanna Risku : Translation Management. Intercultural specialist communication in the information age . Gunter Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2004, ISBN 3-8233-6086-6 .
  • Peter A. Schmitt: Translation and Technology . Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-245-8 .
  • Mary Snell-Hornby (Ed.): Translation Studies - A New Orientation. To integrate theory and practice . Francke, Tübingen 1994.
  • Mary Snell-Hornby et al.: Handbuch Translation . Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-992-4 .
  • Radegundis Stolze: Translation Theories. An introduction . Narr, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-8233-6197-X .
  • Dušan Tellinger: Dependence of the transference of realities on contemporary translation theories. In: Translator's Strategies and Creativity. John Benjamin, Amsterdam 1998, pp. 87-96.
  • Dušan Tellinger: Cultural competence of the translator of literary and technical translation. In: German with all the senses. Zborník príspevkov zo VI. konferencie Spoločnosti učiteľov nemeckého jazyka a germanistov Slovenska. Technická univerzita Košice 2003, ISBN 80-88922-72-0 , pp. 272-275.
  • Hans Josef Vermeer , Katharina Reiss : Foundation of a general translation theory. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1984, ISBN 3-484-30147-3 .

Web links

References and comments

  1. The translation-theoretical thoughts in the foreword range between theological and linguistic-philosophical considerations. They later caused an ongoing discussion among neo-structuralists, especially Jacques Derrida .
  2. Further articles on translatology in this Open Access Zs., See sitemap on the left, "Topics", keyword "Translation Theory" u. Ä.
  3. List and attempt to structure all types of translation that do not belong to literary translation in the narrower sense and with which the Zs. Deals exclusively.