Andrew Chesterman’s 2008 article “On Explanation” examines what it means to explain translational phenomena. In doing so, it explores the nature of explanation itself and raises one crucial question: How much is beyond explanation? In other words, to what extent could translational phenomena be due to mere chance? This article addresses this question by drawing on six landmark experiments within the field of psychology. These experiments suggest (1) that we, as translators, might unknowingly be injecting random elements into our translations, and (2) that we, as Translation Studies scholars, might be ‘seeing’ causes in that randomness where there are none. This article also draws on psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s ideas about the ‘illusion of causation’ and on Nassim Taleb’s definition of randomness within the humanities and social sciences. It concludes by arguing that retrospective explanations of translations should pay far more than lip service to the notion of chance.
- 2.Chesterman on explanation
- 3.Randomness and its relation to TS
- 4.Daniel Kahneman on the machinery of cognition and cognitive errors: System 1 and 2
- 5.Six experiments
- 5.1Experiment 1: The illusion of physical causation
- 5.2Experiment 2: The illusion of intentional causation
- 5.3Experiment 3: What are our intentions actually?
- 5.4Experiment 4: Anchoring and the wheel of fortune
- 5.5Experiment 5: Priming and a word recognition task
- 5.6Experiment 6: Priming and our attitudes
- 6.1The illusion of causation and TS scholarship
- 6.2Randomness and translation
- 6.3Random primes and TS scholarship
- 7.Concluding remarks
Published online: 25 January 2018
Bassnett, Susan, and André Lefevere
2011 “On Explanation” [lecture given at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain, on February 2, 2011]. Part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53L_g_S_MK0; part two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfpVF1w6AVQ.
Englich, Birte, Thomas Mussweiler, and Fritz Strack
Hall, Lars, Petter Johansson, Betty Tärning, Sverker Sikström, and Thérèse Deutgen
Hall, Lars, Petter Johansson, and Thomas Strandberg
Hall, Lars, Thomas Strandberg, Philip Pärnamets, Andreas Lind, Betty Tärning, and Petter Johansson
Johansson, Petter, Lars Hall, Sverker Sikström, and Andreas Olsson
Johannsson, Petter, Lars Hall, Sverker Sikström, Betty Tärning, and Andreas Lind
Johansson, Petter, Lars Hall, and Nick Chater
Kahneman, Daniel, and Amos Tversky
Kaplan, Michael, and Ellen Kaplan
Mussweiler, Thomas, and Fritz Strack
Saldanha, Gabriela, and Sharon O’Brien
Strack, Fritz, Leonard Martin, and Sabine Stepper
Taleb, Nassim Nicholas
Von Wright, Georg Hendrik
Wason, Peter C.
Cited by 2 other publications
Pang, Shuangzi & Kefei Wang
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