Directionality in Translation Processes and Practices

A. Sophia S. Marmaridou
English Department, University of Athens

In this article an attempt is made to systematically approach directionality in translation processes and practices from a cognitive point of view. Within the framework of cognitive semantics, it is argued that translation is an instance of conceptual metaphor, whereby conceptual structures of the target language are mapped onto the source text in order to make it understood by the TL reader. The relevance of this position for the study of translation becomes obvious when considered against existing practices in professional and nonprofessional translating. Thus, the directionality from target to source is experimentally shown to correlate with another type of directionality, namely, translating from or into one's mother tongue, and can explain observable facts in the performance of translation tasks.

Table of contents

Within the framework of current theoretical views on translation processes and practices, it is the aim of this article to examine the issue of directionality in translation in the light of recent trends in cognitive linguistics. Adopting some basic tenets of cognitive semantics, as advocated by Johnson (1992), Lakoff (1987) and Fillmore (1985 and 1977), an attempt will be made to show [ p. 50 ]that translation is the textual realization of the conceptual mechanism of metaphor which has so far been shown to be extremely functional in the expression of linguistic meaning (see Lakoff 1992, Lakoff 1987, and Lakoff and Johnson 1980) and in the characterization of various discourse types (see Marmaridou 1991 and 1994). Moreover, it will be argued that even though translation has so far been viewed as a directional process from the source language to the target language, on cognitive grounds this process is reversed. In this sense, conceptual structures which are realized in the target language are mapped onto the source language text in order to make it understood by readers of the target language as an independent piece of work.

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