Translating social science: Good versus bad utopianism

Joshua M. Price
State University of New York at Binghamton

Dedicated to the memory of Daniel Simeoni

Insufficient attention has been paid in Translation Studies to the challenges particular to translating social scientific texts. Of the few who have taken up the topic, Immanuel Wallerstein has argued that one of the distinguishing characteristics of social scientific texts is that they traffic in concepts. Wallerstein wants the translation of social science to further the possibility of a universal conversation in the social sciences. I argue that a universal conversation in the social sciences is neither possible nor desirable. Instead, this article proposes that translating social science can contribute to conceptual clarification and elaboration. In this way, the translation may complement and further the flowering of the ‘original’ concept. The essay concludes with an extended example—how ‘bewilderment’ might be translated into Spanish.

Table of contents

Always melancholic, frantic, manic... man is always marching towards failure; human tasks are unrealizable. (Ortega y Gasset)

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