Chapter published in:Reflections on Translation Theory: Selected papers 1993 - 2014
[Benjamins Translation Library 132] 2017
► pp. 3–16
On the idea of a theory
This article is based on a lecture that has been given to several groups of doctoral students at various times and in various places. It outlines five notions of what has been taken to constitute a “theory”: myth, metaphor, model, hypothesis and structured research programme. The most fundamental of these is the hypothesis. These different ideas of what a theory can be are illustrated with examples from Translation Studies. Any theory aims at description and explanation, and these two concepts are also discussed. A final comment takes up the idea that translations themselves are theories, and that a translator is thus a theorist or theoros.
Keywords: theory, description, explanation, myth, metaphor, hypothesis, structured research programme