Scopos, Loyalty, and Translational Conventions

Christiane Nord
Institut für Übersetzen und Dolmetschen der Universität Heidelberg

Within the framework of the functionalist or "scopos" theory, the (intended) scope or function of the target text is the most important criterion for the translator's decisions. However, this is a general theory of translation, which is not concerned with the culture-specific conventions valid in a particular culture. Since conventions determine what readers expect of a translation, the translator has the responsibility not to deceive the users of his translation by acting contrary to the conventions without telling them what he is doing, and why. This responsibility is what I will refer to as loyalty. Loyalty is a moral principle guiding the relationships between human beings.

Table of contents

Every year, conferences on translational topics call for scholars from all over the world to discuss the question of what translation is or should be and how certain translation problems ought to be solved. However, although translatologists usually agree on more general issues, e.g. the importance of translation as such or the necessity of improving the often [ p. 92 ]deplorable quality of translations, there seems to be little consent as far as concrete translational "rules" are concerned. Wouldn't it be useful to have a sort of Magna Charta of translation which every translator could turn to in case of doubt?

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