What is Translation Studies?

What is Translation Studies?

Definition of Translation Studies

Translation Studies is the field of study that deals with the theory, description, and application of translation. Because it examines translation not only as interlingual transfer but also as intercultural communication, it can also be described as an interdiscipline which touches on other diverse fields of knowledge, including comparative literature, cultural studies, gender studies, computer science, history, linguistics, philosophy, rhetoric, and semiotics. Translation Studies is often paired with Interpreting, although the two are distinct fields.

History of Translation Studies

Although translators from the Romans have had much to say about the theory and practice of translation, it was not until the twentieth century that Translation Studies emerged as a formal academic discipline. James S Holmes’ 1972 landmark paper entitled The Name and Nature of Translation Studies was the foundational statement of Translation Studies: it called for the creation of a distinct discipline with its own system of classification.

Translation Studies as an Academic Discipline

Translation Studies entails the systematic examination of translation both as an applied practice and also as a means of understanding the movement and transfer between diverse languages and cultures. Translation Studies deals with the practical experiences of the translator; it also explores from theoretical and methodological perspectives the history and philosophy of translation, as well as current trends in the field. Translation Studies may examine the practices and context of translating texts that are specialist (legal, business, medical, etc.); it also may explore the art of translation as a creative act in literary translation and international marketing. Translation Studies may also explore how issues of culture, power, gender, ethics medium affect the act of translating. The study of these enables students to apply their theoretical understanding to the approaches, techniques, and choices that are used daily as a practicing translator.

What Does Translation Studies Involve?

The study of translation usually includes the analysis of key texts, enabling students to develop an awareness of the problems of understanding and interpretation. It also involves the development of the analytical, practical, evaluative, aesthetic, and expository skills required to address translation problems. Finally, it includes the development of research skills, practical translation skills, and the ability to develop strategies for managing complex linguistic and cultural transactions.

Why Study Translation?

The discipline of translation studies has grown alongside the introduction of university schools and courses, relevant conferences, translation journals, and other translation-related publications.

The skills of translation are becoming ever more important and desirable, as today’s multicultural and multilingual society demands effective, efficient, and empathetic communication between languages and cultures.

Careers in Translation

Translation Studies prepares students for various careers. Some graduates choose to start their own business as a freelance translator. Others become in-house translators or project managers for translation companies or international businesses. There are also roles in such language services industries as international publishing, journalism, public relations, and teaching.

Professionals with significant linguistic backgrounds, as well as translators, linguists, and other language professionals often choose to study a Master of Arts degree or a Ph.D. in Translation Studies. This course of study enables students to develop specialist language skills, research skills, and the credentials required to land more advanced specialist roles in translation, teaching, international business, and media.

Further Reading

MA Translation Studies at the University of Exeter

The Role and Scope of Translation Studies in the 21st Century by Shivnath Sharma

How to Become a Translator – Institute of Translation and Interpreting.