Is There a Special Kind of “Reading” for Translation? An Empirical Investigation of Reading in the Translation Process

Gregory M. Shreve, Christina Schäffner, Joseph H. Danks and Jennifer Griffin
Kent State University | Aston University, Birmingham

Abstract

The role of reading in translation is rarely discussed in the literature. Translation has mainly been discussed within a product-oriented framework. The more process-oriented approaches of recent years have taken notice of reading as a component activity of the translation process. However, few empirical studies have been completed which address the role of reading in translation. The way a person reads, and the result of that reading (some sort of mental representation of the text or text segment), will depend on the reader's purposes and motivations. The present empirical study indicates that while the translator's reading of a text may be to some extent more thorough and deliberate than that of an ordinary reader, it is not likely to be markedly so. The study also indicates a significant variability in the way translators "read for translation". This suggests the existence of alternate strategies in this kind of reading.

Table of contents

A primary investigative technique in translation studies has been the contrastive analysis of source text and target text. Many of the central concepts of modern translation studies, such as communicative equivalence, are based on a detailed study of relationships between source and target texts. These approaches are result-oriented and are grounded in the objective existence of source and target. The source and target texts are assumed to be linked by some sort of intervening translation process which can be reconstructed by detailed textual analyses of the source-target pair. Toury has commented on this relationship (Toury 1982: 25):

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