Chapter published in:Translating Asymmetry – Rewriting Power
Edited by Ovidi Carbonell i Cortés and Esther Monzó-Nebot
[Benjamins Translation Library 157] 2021
► pp. 101–121
Tom, Dick and Harry as well as Fido and Puss in boots are translators
The implications of biosemiotics for translation studies
As a field, translation studies arose from the practice of interlingual, mostly written translation. Though not an invalid point of departure, this assumption, which had not really been investigated critically despite lip service to Jakobson’s categories of intralinguistic, interlinguistic and intersemiotic translation, has meant that translation studies has limited its field of interest to, mainly, written, literary, professional translation as instantiated by Western practices. This linguistic bias has an anthropocentric bias as its logical implication. The limited conceptualization of translation has become untenable for a number of reasons, not least of which is the growth in multimodal communication made possible by information-technology developments as well as the growth in posthumanist thinking. Lastly, semiotic conceptualizations of translation clearly pose theoretical challenges to a translation studies that is conceptualized on the basis of interlinguistic translation only or that is based on a linguicentric and thus anthropocentric bias.This chapter investigates the Peircean definition of meaning as “the translation of a sign into another system of signs” (Peirce 1931–1966: 4.127), in particular the ways in which this kind of thinking has evolved in the modern field of biosemiotics. If all meaning creation is, per definition, translation, it means that every living organism is a translator. It further means that one needs to consider translational actions by animals and plants at both intraspecific and interspecific levels. The chapter addresses the asymmetry both in the relationships between human and non-human animals and in the attention that translation studies pays to this power dynamic.
Keywords: anthropocentric bias, biosemiotics, non-professional interpreting and translation (NPIT), linguicentrism
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