Empirical approaches

Alexander Künzli
Table of contents

Translation Studies has long been dominated by speculative and prescriptive writing, relying on theoretical entities or anecdotal evidence rather than on facts derived from direct experience or systematic observation. Holmes’ ‘map’ of Translation Studies, with its descriptive and applied branches, was developed in the 1970s and is considered by many as the founding statement for the emergent discipline. It was also a reaction against these shortcomings, and aimed to establish the use of the empirical method within Translation Studies (see Munday 2008: Chapter 1.4). Since then, empirical research has become an essential part of the field. Working empirically means analysing problems by means of data rather than relying solely on logical argument. Many researchers therefore make a distinction between empirical approaches on the one hand, and what are either termed non-empirical, semi-empirical, theoretical or rational approaches (for example, hermeneutics, deconstruction or postmodernism) on the other. This dichotomy is, however, debatable, as even empirical research generally is based on theoretical assumptions and/or supposed to develop or refine theories.

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Further reading

Sun, Sanjun & Shreve, Gregory
2012Reconfiguring Translation Studies. http://​sanjun​.org​/ReconfiguringTS​.html [Accessed on 8 July 2013].