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Translation Studies

It would be difficult to find a human function that is not involved, directly or indirectly, in some form of translation. Our immediate association with the word “translation” takes us to verbal texts. The general public tends to believe translating these texts is a simple act of leafing through a dictionary, word-for-word, to find equivalent words in the new language. Yet, the act of translation is not restricted to the verbal realm. Writers translate their fictional or poetic vision into words, painters translate their vision into images, the pianist translates the notes of the score through the piano, ministers and priests translate their interpretations of biblical passages for members of their congregations, and human beings translate their perceptions and emotions into the movement of their gestures. The list of translation activities can be extended ad infinitum.

The question will have to be raised, “What is translation?” To this day, no comprehensive, satisfactory answer has been found or articulated. To understand translation in an immediately accessible form, one could quote George Steiner’s now famous statement: “All acts of communication are acts of translation.” Yet, for any act of translation to occur, it has to be preceded by an act of interpretation. Translation and interpretation are intricately connected. Translation without interpretation cannot take place! 


Selected Essays

Translation and Interpretation

What is Translation?