Translation universals

Andrew Chesterman
Table of contents

Research on translation universals emerges from a convergence of influences. The first is the old idea that translations are recognizably different from other texts. There is a long tradition of comments about translations sounding unnatural, which has led to the notion of “translationese”. Similarly, it has long been recognized that some aspects of the source text and its meaning or style are typically “lost in translation” (see Stylistics and translation). Underlying both these traditions is the assumption that any translation shares characteristics with other translations, since otherwise no generalization about typical weaknesses could be made in the first place.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Baker, M
1993“Corpus linguistics and Translation Studies: Implications and applications.” In Text and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair, M. Baker et al. (eds), 233–250. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins  TSB. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Blum-Kulka, S
1986“Shifts of cohesion and coherence in translation.” In Interlingual and Intercultural Communication: Discourse and Cognition in Translation and Second Language Acquisition Studies, J. House and S. Blum-Kulka (eds), 17–35. Tübingen: Narr.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Chesterman, A
2004“Beyond the particular.” In Mauranen and Kujamäki (eds), 33–49.  TSB DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Laviosa, S
2002Corpus-based Translation Studies: Theory, Findings, Applications. Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mauranen. A. & Kujamäki, P
(eds) 2004Translation Universals. Do they exist? Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mauranen, O. & Koskinen, K
2010“Reprocessing texts. The fine line between retranslating and revising.” Across Languages and Cultures 11 (1): 29–49. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
Tirkkonen-Condit, S
2004“Unique items – Over- or under-represented in translated language?” In Mauranen & Kujamäki (eds), 177–184.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
1995Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Tymoczko, Maria
1998“Computerized corpora and the future of Translation Studies.” Meta 43 (4): 653–659. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar

Further reading

Chesterman, A
2007“What is a unique item?” In Doubts and Directions in Translation Studies, Y. Gambier et al.. (eds), 3–13. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins  TSB. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Halverson, S
2003“The cognitive basis of translation universals.” Target 15 (2): 197–241. DOI logo  TSBGoogle Scholar
House, J
2008“Beyond Intervention. Universals in translation?” trans-kom 1 (1): 6–19.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Klaudy, K
1996“Back-translation as a tool for detecting explicitation strategies in translation.” In Translation Studies in Hungary, K. Klaudy et al. (eds), 99–114. Budapest: Scholastica.  TSBGoogle Scholar
Pym, Anthony
2008“On Toury's laws of how translators translate.” In Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies, A. Pym et al. (eds), 311–328. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ulrych, M
2009“Translating and editing as mediated discourse: focus on the recipient.” In Translators and Their Readers. In Homage to Eugene A. Nida, R. Dimitriu & M. Shlesinger (eds), 219–234. Brussels: Editions du Hasard.Google Scholar