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Relations Between The Translators and Linguists

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The relationship between linguistics and translation and the way they advantage from each other are part of the objectives of this study. The essential idea, here, is that “between languages, human communication equals translation”. If we want to find a synonym for the study of translation it would be a study of language (Bassnett- McGuire, 1980. p. 23[1]). Moreover, translators and linguists deal with two linguistic systems, each with, maybe, a different cultural system. At this point of view, if it is agreed that ‘all communicators are translators’ (Bell, 1991), we must consider that the role of the translator is not the same from that of the ‘normal communicator’: a bilingual mediating agent between monolingual communication participants in two different language communities provides the definition of a translator.

Recently, the focal point of translation studies has been changed from linguistics to forms of cultural studies. The nature and development of the discipline of translation studies (TS) are attempted to study from the perspective of giving some indication to the nature of work that has been done up to now. It is an effort to show that TS is a greatly complicated area with many consequences.

Holmes created the term “Translation Studies” by in his well-known paper, “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies”, first presented in 1972 to the translation section of the Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics in Copenhagen, but published and widely read-only as of 1988.

Holmes (1988, p. 71) described the field of what he meant “Translation Studies” and its two main objectives:

  1. to describe the activity of translating and translation(s) as they reflect themselves in the world of our experience
  2. to set overall principles by means of which these actions can be explained and forecasted.

Since then, Translation Studies has evolved to a level that it has converted into an interdiscipline, related with several other fields.

Zakhir (2008) highlighted the importance of the history of translation and how we have to consider and base on the theories and names that developed TS in different periods of time. Each period of time is marked by specific changes in translation history. For centuries, people believed there was a relationship between translation and the story of the tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis. According to the Bible, the descendants of Noah decided, after the great flood, to settle down in a plain in the land of Shinar. Instead of setting up a society that fits God’s will, they decided to challenge his authority and build a tower that could reach Heaven. However, this plan was not completed, as God, recognizing their wish, regained control over them through a linguistic stratagem. He caused them to speak different languages so as not to understand each other. Then, he scattered them all over the earth. After that incident, the number of languages increased through diversion, and people started to look for ways to communicate, hence the birth of translation (Benabdelali, 2006).

The story of Babel remained a history with the origination of translation studies and the increase of research in the field. People started showing interest in specific dates and figures that represented the periods of translation history.

Writings on translation return to the Romans. Translating is a Roman invention is stated by Jacobsen (1958). The distinction between word-for-word translation and sense-for-sense translation was first introduced and discussed by Cicero and Horace theorists. Their work on translation activity impacted other generations of translation up to the 20th century.

A critical period that marked a significant step in translation development was introduced by St. Jerome (fourth century CE). “His approach to translating the Greek Septuagint Bible into Latin would affect later translations of the scriptures” (Munday, 2001). For more than a thousand years, the translation of the Bible remained a subject to many conflicts between western theories and ideologies of translation. The field of translation was developed by the invention of printing techniques in the 15th century (Zakhir, 2008). This event helped in the appearance of early theorists.

Dominant theorists, such as Sir John Denham, Abraham Cowley, John Dryden appeared in the 17th century. John Dryden was well-known for his distinction between several types of translation; metaphrase, paraphrase, and imitation. In the 18th century, the translator was compared to an artist with a moral duty both to the work of the original author and to the receiver. Moreover, the study of translation started to be systematic; Alexander Tayler’s volume “Principle of Translation” is a case in point.

Two conflicting tendencies marked the 19th century; the first viewed translation as an area of thought and view the translator as a brilliant person, who improved the literature and the language into which he is translating, conversely, the second view him through the mechanical function of making a text or an author well known (McGuire, 1980). Many theories and translations in the field of literature, especially poetic translation, appeared in the period of the nineteenth century. The translations used by Edward Fitzgerald for Rubaiyat Omar Al- Khayyam are an example of these translations.

Studies and research on translation turned to be an important subject in language teaching and learning at schools in the second half of the 20th century. Pragmatic and systematic approach to the study of translation are also characteristics of this period of time. In today’s world, the nature of translation has shifted and started to take another math course, which is more automatic. Cultural exchanges between nations have been increased with the invention of the internet as a global platform, along with the fresh technological advancements in communication and digital assets. As a result, translators are looking for techniques and ways to cope with these dramatic changes and to find more practical tools or methods that allow them to translate more and waste less. They also identified the need to go into the world of cinematographic translation, which came to the birth of audiovisual translation. Screen translation, another latter technique, deals with the translation of all kinds of TV programs, including films.

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