Relay translation

Table of contents

Relay translation refers to a chain of (at least) three texts, ending with a translation made from another translation: (original) ST > intermediate text (IT) > (end) TT. A plethora of terms has been suggested for this practice, creating a conceptual “mess” (Pym 2011: 80). Pym's recommended “indirect translation”, although widely used, has several competing usages (like content-oriented translation, e.g.); “retranslation”, another ambiguous term, now seems less current in the sense of relay translation (cf. Pym 2011: 90). The term “indirect translation” tends to focus the end product, whereas “relay translation” highlights the process (Dollerup 2000: 23; cf. Relay interpreting). Normally, it is in the end target culture that relay translation will be observed; witness the long-standing research project in Germany on early-modern translation via French into German (summarized in Graeber 2004). There is no equivalent interest in Germany's own mediating role in relation to eastern and northern Europe (nor, for that matter, any comprehensive Anglo-American research on English as an intermediate language in today's world). Consequently, research on relay translation – scant though it may be – tends to emanate from scholars linked to (semi)peripheral languages like Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, Hebrew, the Scandinavian languages etc.

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Further reading

Washbourne, Kelly
2013"Nonlinear Narratives: Paths of Indirect and Relay Translation". Meta: journal des traducteurs 58:3 (s. 607–625). DOI logoGoogle Scholar