Official translation

Denise Merkle
Table of contents

The concept of Institutional translation has attracted considerable attention of late, while generating controversy in response to the “ambiguity of the concept of institution” (Kang 2009: 141) with translation scholars referring “either to translating in or for specific organizations” (ibid.). The literature invariably refers to institutional translation as “mostly centred on translation practice at large and important institutions” (Kang 2009: 144), without necessarily making a clear distinction between official and non-official language contexts (e.g. Pym 2004), or between national and supranational contexts (Koskinen 2008). Furthermore, “the concept is slowly but clearly being used as a means of understanding and studying translation practice in general” (Kang 2009: 144), adding to the ubiquity of the term. A potential subfield of institutional translation which could help nuance meaning and fine tune contributions to theory is “official translation” with a further subdivision between national and supranational contexts. While this term is also polysemic, its potential application is, nevertheless, far narrower than that of institutional translation. However, the term is rarely found in the Translation Studies literature, other than to distinguish certified and notarized translations of official documents (birth or death certificate, driver’s license, school transcripts, etc.) from those that are not.

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