Publication details [#13172]

Xiumei, Xu. 2006. 'Style is the relationship': a relevance-theoretic approach to the translator's style. Babel 52 (4) : 334–348.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Journal DOI


This paper aims to analyze the commonly debated issue of translator's style in Translation Studies from the perspective of the relevance theory and show that the issue of the translator's style can be satisfactorily explained under the relevance-theoretic framework. According to relevance theory, human cognition is relevance-oriented, and that as a result, someone who knows an individual's cognitive environment can infer which assumptions he is actually likely to entertain. Hence, the style is the product of the balance between the original writer's communicative intentions on the one hand and the target reader's cognitive environment on the other, the translator's preferences and abilities being the fulcrum. The translator's style best embodies his purpose and understanding of translation, his understanding of the reader's cognitive environment, his preference and abilities. And the style is a comprehensive embodiment of the translator's subjectivity. Such aspects of translation as unidiomatic translation and multi-translation also can find convincing explanations from a relevance-theoretic perspective: unidiomatic expressions serve to draw the reader's additional mental efforts to a better understanding of the original work since human knowledge is open-ended, and multi-translation is both reasonable and necessary because the readers tend to read the versions compatible to their preferences and capabilities. As for poetry translation, the translator's primary task is to create a certain impression. The translator's style on the final analysis is supposed to assume the optimal relevance balancing between the translator's understanding of the target reader's cognitive environment and the translator's own preference and ability. In conclusion, 'style is the relationship'.
Source : Based on abstract in journal