Agents of translation

Hélène Buzelin
Table of contents

In Translation Studies (TS), the notion of agent has received various definitions. For Juan Sager (quoted in Milton & Bandia 2009: 1), an agent is anyone in an intermediary position (i.e. a commissioner, a reviser, an editor, etc.) between a translator and an end user of a translation whereas for Milton & Bandia (2009) an agent of translation is any entity (a person, an institution, or even a journal) involved in a process of cultural innovation and exchange. A third avenue was suggested by Simeoni (1995) who defined the agent as “the ‘subject,’ but socialized. To speak of a translating agent, therefore, suggests that the reference is a ‘voice,’ or a pen (more likely a computer today), inextricably linked to networks of other social agents” (Simeoni 1995: 452; see Networking and volunteer translators). As this definition reminds us, agent is a sociological concept. It designates an entity endowed with agency, which is the ability to exert power in an intentional way. Agents are usually understood to be human, although some paradigms, such as actor-network theory, maintain that non-humans are also endowed with agency.

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Further reading

Buzelin, Hélène
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