From Translation Markets to Language Management: The Implications of Translation Services

Johan Hermans and José Lambert
CETRA & Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Abstract

The fact that the position of "business translation" within Translation Studies remains unclear is probably symptomatic of the discipline as a whole. In this article, business translation is approached from a new point of view; namely, that of social organization and management in business environments. The situation under observation—the "translation market" in Belgium—is limited, and does not warrant any general conclusions. However, the rather predictable findings concerning the peripheral position of translation and translators in business life seem to indicate that it is not translation as such which is at stake here, but more general views on language, discourse and communication.

Table of contents

It is generally assumed that the academic situation of translator training and Translation Studies is heavily indebted to the boom of translation as a business service since the Second World War. The strange thing is that the dominant groups in Translation Studies are not at ease with the phenomenon of "translation for business purposes", which tends to be simplified into "technical translation" or "business translation". Does it constitute a special subarea, and on what basis would such a subarea be established? Are there any features that may be taken to distinguish "technical" or "business" translations from translations of other kinds, and what would a "normal" business translation be like? We are immediately reminded of the many discussions of "literary translation" where no basis for any formal distinction has been provided thus far (Toury 1995: 166–180). Or would it be sufficient to accept that "business translation" refers to cases where a translation is commissioned by someone who is willing to pay for it? Would the translation of a literary work commissioned by a publishing house not belong in the same category, then, and would there be many translations in today's world outside of the business context?

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