How to choose a translation

Posted by yaj1 at Nov 21, 2019 01:34 PM |
Part of the LeCTIS Spring Seminar Series 2019/20.


Date: 10 October 2019
Time: 4.30pm-6.00pm
Venue: Physics Lecture Theatre C

ContactDr Yan Ying


SpeakerProfessor Kirsten Malmkjær, University of Leicester


A youthful Anthony Pym (1990; 1992: 281 - also available at defined translation competence as

The ability to generate a TT (target text) series of more than one viable term (TT1, TT2...TTn) for a ST (source text). - The ability to select only one TT from this series, quickly and with justified confidence, and to propose this TT as a replacement of ST for a specified purpose and reader.

He offered this definition in a volume of articles on the teaching of translation (likely to be relevant to the Leicester context) in an article on how translation error analysis relates to language teaching (perhaps less likely to be relevant to us). He offered the definition a long time ago, when there was much interest in defining the concept of translation competence. The definition is vastly oversimplified, and there is much less interest within the translation studies community in defining translation competence now than there was then.

Nevertheless, it is obviously true that almost every target text is one of many possible target texts for one source text, and that a translator almost always needs to select one; it would therefore have been nice if Pym has said something about how the choice is to be made, beyond the reference to the text purpose and the reader. He does not, because his article is essentially about something else (errors). My talk will address the issue of how to choose a translation.


Pym, Anthony. 1990. A Definition of Translational Competence, applied to the Teaching of Translation. Paper presented to the 12th World Congress of the FIT, Belgrade.

Pym, Anthony. 1992. Translation Error Analysis and the Interface with Language Teaching. In The Teaching of Translation, eds Cay Dollerup and Anne Loddegaard. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 279-288.


Kirsten Malmkjær is emeritus professor of translation studies at the University of Leicester. She is especially interested in translation theory – that is, in understanding the phenomenon that is translation, an interest that she has pursued throughout her academic career. In addition to teaching at Leicester, she has taught at the universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and Middlesex. Recent publications include the Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies and Linguistics (2018), the collection of articles, Key Cultural Texts in Translation, co-edited with Adriana Serban and Fransiska Louwagie (John Benjamins 2018) and Translation and Creativity, Routledge (2020).

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