Memes of Translation: The spread of ideas in translation theory


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Benjamins Translation Library Amsterdam: John Benjamins. ISBN e. Reviewed by Susana Valdez NOVA University; University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies Targeted mainly at professional translators, translation trainees and their teachers, Memes of Translation sets out ambitious metatheoretical, theoretical and practical aims, which it reaches. Its first aim is to propose a conceptual framework that meaningfully links varied and distinct views of translation.

Its second is to build a Popperian theory of translation — oriented by "tentative theory, error elimination and the evolution of objective knowledge" x — in combination with an argument supported by norm theory and partially action theory. The guiding "building-blocks are the concepts of norm, strategy and value" x. Finally, the volume aims to show that translation theory is useful and applicable to translation practice. First published in , this revised edition with minor corrections and improvements offers an update at the end of each chapter with references to more recent research and addresses criticisms of the version.

This book remains mandatory re reading. Chesterman introduces the volume by describing the origin and meaning of the word "theory" — from the Classical Greek theoros came the noun theoria seeing or contemplating — in order to establish the central thread that will help the reader establish a link to piece together an apparently unconnected array of views on and related to translation: theory is a way of seeing, a point of view, an idea. Surviving ideas are called memes.

Translations are described as "survival machines for memes" Chapter 1. Memes are a concept borrowed from Dawkins' The Selfish Gene This "umbrella-idea" can be defined "simply [as] an idea that spreads, [and] ideas spread, replicate themselves, like genes do" x.


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Translation also has memes, translation memes: concepts and ideas which "affect the way translators think and translate" Five "supermemes" of translation theory are selected to depict fundamental translation issues discussed throughout the history of translation: source-target, equivalence, untranslatability, free-vs-literal, all-writing-is-translating. The physical world World 1 refers to the world of the physical entities. The mental or psychological world World 2 concerns the plane of mental objects.

The world of the "products of the human mind" World 3 refers to objective knowledge Popper , Memes exist in all three. A Popperian meme is introduced at this stage: faced with a Problem P1 , a Tentative Theory TT is put forward and subjected to a process of Error Elimination EE through "tests and criticism of all kinds, [compared] with alternative theories, checked for internal consistency, checked against the data and against new data, checked for the testable hypotheses it generates, and so on" 12 resulting in a new Problem P2 and the schema starts again.

In the Update section, Chesterman reflects on the productivity of the meme metaphor in TS. Vermeer, in the same year as the first edition of this volume , calls for more work "to find out how far the meme idea carries In spite of the coincidence, neither Chesterman nor Vermeer knew about the other s interest in memes at the time. In fact, even though The Translation Studies Bibliography does not list "meme" as a keyword, this book the and editions has been quoted times according to Google Scholar.

For Chesterman, memes have certainly been a productive metaphor, as he has discussed them in several articles cf.

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Nonetheless, the author finds that "the notion cannot be said to have entered the mainstream of Translation Studies" partly, in the author s view, due to criticisms of the adoption of the meme concept itself: does it exist or is it a metaphor? Chapter 2, "The evolution of translation memes", makes use of this scientific methodology to explain the evolution of European translation theory insofar as each stage presented is a Tentative Theory put to the test.

Consequently, the chapter starts with an analysis of eight meme-complexes in overlapping, cumulative and ahistorical stages: words, the word of God, rhetoric, logos, linguistic science, communication, target, and cognition. The chapter then discusses the "current pool of translation memes" as a contradictory amalgamate of "traces of all the preceding memes or meme- complexes" 40 , a "conceptual mess" In the Update section, Chesterman considers the development or lack thereof of a "unified general theory of translation" 44 towards which this volume aims to contribute.

In spite of the lack of a common guiding thread — evidenced by the focus on different theories and methodologies — the discipline of TS focuses on better understanding its object of research either by describing the act and event of translation, explaining and predicting translational behavior, or assessing its "effects and consequences" Drawing on research on norm theory, especially Toury's proposal, Chapter 3, "From memes to norms", focuses on norms.

Norms are long-lasting, dominating memes that guide translational behavior how translators translate and how the community at large evaluates translations. The author then establishes a distinction between normative and prescriptive approaches: dis ou ses ha i g to do ith o s vs. This proposal is circumscribed to the norms established by competent professional translators: "the norm authorities par excellence" There is nowhere in Chesterman's professional norms to address translators not recognized as competent or not working full-time in translation, with trainees, volunteers, user-generated and crowdsourced translation, to name just a few, excluded from research.

Translation is not only done by "competent" professionals, as is duly acknowledged by the author later on. Norms are explanatory hypotheses and, as such, Chesterman in the Update section asks for more evidence on the existence of norms. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Memes of Translation is a search for coherence in translation theory based on the notion of Memes: ideas that spread, develop and replicate, like genes.

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The author explores a wide range of ideas on translation, mapping the "meme pool" of translation theory with chapters on translation history, norms, strategies, assessment, ethics, and translator training. The aim of the b Memes of Translation is a search for coherence in translation theory based on the notion of Memes: ideas that spread, develop and replicate, like genes. The aim of the book is to search for a perspective from which the immense variety of ideas about translation can be related. The unifying thread is the philosophy of Karl Popper.

The book proposes the beginnings of a Popperian theory of translation, based on the fundamental concepts of norms, strategies, and values. A key idea is that a translation itself is a theory or hypothesis concerning the source text.

Memes of translation: the spread of ideas in translation theory

This hypothesis is then subjected to testing, refinement, and perhaps even rejection, just like any other hypothesis. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Memes Of Translation , please sign up. Lists with This Book.

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Memes of translation: the spread of ideas in translation theory

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