Book review
Christine Pagnoulle, ed. Sur le fil: traducteurs et éthique, éthiques du traducteur
Liège: Université, 2010. 149 pp. ISBN 9-782872-330270 €15

Reviewed by Françoise Massardier-Kenney
Kent, Ohio

Table of contents

This volume presents papers from a 2007 conference at Liège University. The participants included practitioners as well as scholars and the format of the articles reflects different approaches, ranging from very short anecdotal papers to longer scholarly ones. While some of the articles do focus on ethics, a topic that is currently popular in Translation Studies, most in fact deal with other issues such as, for example, the development of literary translation in modern Scottish literature through translations of Gaelic texts into Scots (Derrick McClure); a discussion of the translation process of an autobiographical text from Picardy into Letton (Astra Skrabane); a reflection, based on philosopher Martin Buber’s notion of dialogue, on what the discipline of Translation Studies has brought to our understanding of translation as a relation with the future as well as with the past (Anthony Pym); or an assessment of translations of Caribbean texts into French as reinforcing cultural stereotypes (Marie-José Nzengou-Tayo). The papers that focus on ethics do so with a variety of approaches ranging from personal narratives to more general researchbased analyses. This variety can be a strength. Indeed, to speak of ethics of translation implies that the translator has agency and that his/her experience must be taken seriously—thus the urgent need for case studies in which translators can report on their experience. However, papers that repeat what has been said elsewhere or that overly generalize from very specific situations paradoxically contribute to the status of translators as subordinate and of Translation Studies as an uncertain discipline. This is illustrative of a more fundamental issue within Translation Studies. As many translation scholars realize, perhaps because of Translation Studies’ recent status as a separate academic discipline, many write about translation without having done the necessary literature review. This results in repetitions of ideas that are well-known or that are obsolete because they fail to take into account recent developments affecting Translation Studies, for instance, those in expertise studies, the psychology of language, cognitive science (e.g., with regards to the reading process or decision-making processes), or even the sub-field of ethics in philosophy. For discussions of ethics to be meaningful, we must read widely in order to develop thoughtful definitions of ethics and apply them to translation in such a way as to advance [ p. 445 ]discussion. Some of the articles in the present volume would have benefited from such readings.

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