Translation policy

Reine Meylaerts
Table of contents

In its most restricted sense, a policy refers to the conduct of political and public affairs by a government or an administration, i.e. to political or public practices as implemented in legal rules. Such practices include the so-called language and translation policies (see also below). However, in a broader definition, policy embraces not only governments and government agencies but also other institutional settings and international organizations such as the EU or the UN and private companies, each of them implementing the conduct of their organization by specific rules. In addition, even relatively informal situations have their policy dimensions to the point that even a lack of policy may constitute a policy. Within Translation Studies, a similar stretch is to be observed: ‘translation policy’ covers a variety of meanings, designing official institutional settings (see Institutional translation) but also a wide range of relatively informal situations related to ideology, translators’ strategies, publishers’ strategies, prizes and scholarships, translator training, etc. Functioning as an umbrella term or a container concept, translation policy risks however becoming an empty notion with little conceptual surplus value. This paradox may be illustrated by the absence of the term as an entry in several companions (Munday 2009; Pöchhacker 2004), theoretical overviews (Pym 2010), readers (Venuti 2000) or encyclopedias in the field of Translation Studies (Baker & Saldanha 2008).

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