Publication details [#8163]

Gutt, Ernst-August. 1990. A theoretical account of translation - without a translation theory. Target 2 (2) : 135–164.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


This paper argues that the phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘translation’ can be accounted for naturally within the relevance theory of communication developed by Sperber and Wilson: there is no need for a distinct general theory of translation. Most kinds of translation can be analysed as varieties of interpretive use. The author distinguishes direct from indirect translation. Direct translation corresponds to the idea that translation should convey the same meaning as the original. It requires the receptors to familiarize themselves with the context envisaged for the original text. The idea that the meaning of the original can be communicated to any receptor audience, no matter how different their background, is shown to be a misconception based on mistaken assumptions about communication. Direct translation is merely a special case of interpretive use, whereas indirect translation is the general case. [Based on abstract in journal]