[New publication] Meta : journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators’ Journal: volume 63, issue 1, 2018

In Memoriam Katharina Reiß

Christiane Nord

The world of translation studies has lost one of its greatest scholars and most inspiring
teachers. On April 16th, 2018, Katharina Reiß died peacefully in Munich, where
she had lived for the last few decades. I received the notice by email on the 17th, the
day which would have been her 95th birthday. On that day, I had a plenary talk on
functionalism at a translation studies conference in Tijuana, Mexico, and when I told
the audience what had happened, they were all silent. They had not known her personally,
but each of them had heard at least her name or even read some of her publications.
Katharina Reiß was born in 1923. Before becoming a pioneer of translation studies,
which still was in its infancy at the time, she studied romance languages and
literature, and translated several works from Spanish into German, among them José
Ortega y Gasset’s famous essay on the “misery and splendour of translation”, Miseria
y esplendor de la traducción. Her practical translation work provided the material for
her translation classes at the School for Translation and Interpreting at the University
of Heidelberg, Germany, which I attended in the early 1960s. She was a great teacher.
What she wanted most of all was to offer students and practising translators general
guidelines for their translational decisions. This was the rationale for most of her
publications, first of all of her book on translation criticism published in 1971. The
text typology she presented in this book is now an essential requisite in any theory
class for trainee translators all over the world, although the translations into English
(Translation Criticism – The Potentials & Limitations) and French (La critique des
traductions, ses possibilités et ses limites) were not published until 2000 and 2002,
respectively. Firmly drawing on a normative concept of functional equivalence at the
text level, which she never gave up, her postulate was that the method of translating
is a correlate of the text type. Later, she integrated this approach as a specific theory
into the framework of Hans J. Vermeer’s general theory of translational action or
Skopostheorie, claiming that it accounted for those special cases in which the skopos,
or purpose, of the translation is to produce a textual equivalent of the source text.
Of course, as an experienced translator she knew that equivalence is not always called
for or even desirable. Apart from the textual categories, therefore, her model includes
a functional category for those cases in which the target text is needed for another
function than that of the source text. This is why she is often regarded as the founder
of Skopostheorie. But for her, the source text was always the sine qua non, the necessary
condition, of translation.

On that morning in Tijuana, I told the audience, “Without Katharina Reiß I
would not be here today”. And those are not just words: it was Katharina Reiß who
gave me the chance and even inspired me to become a translation teacher and, later,
a scholar in translation studies. Her students will always remember her as a strict but
fair teacher with a very subtle sense of humour. For me, she will always be the great
person to whom I owe so much.

Ortega y Gasset, José (1940): Miseria y esplendor de la traducción. In: El libro de las misiones.
Buenos Aires: Espasa-Calpe, 131-172.
Reiss, Katharina (1971): Möglichkeiten und grenzen der übersetzungskritik [Possibilities and
limitations of translation criticism]. Munich: Hueber.
Reiss, Katharina (1971/2000): Translation Criticism – The Potentials and Limitations. (Translated
by Erroll F. Rhodes) New York/Manchester: American Bible Society/St. Jerome.
Reiss, Katharina (1971/2002): La critique des traductions, ses possibilités et ses limites. (Translated
by Catherine Bocquet) Arras: Artois Presses Université.


Termes complexes et langues de spécialité en sciences humaines et sociales : que nous apprennent les textes intégraux ?

Evelyne Jacquey, Laurence Kister, Mario Marcon et Sabine Barreaux

Abstract: Our study is based on a specialized corpus of scientific papers dealing with three scientific fields of Humanities: Archeology, Linguistics and Psychology. The study aims at examining how transdisciplinary scientific lexicon and the disciplinary lexicon of each scientific field can produce new noun_adjective term candidates, for instance, human language, individual level, social background, syllabic structure. We focus on all of the occurrences of noun_adjective term candidates that expert annotators considered as terms in each field. Moreover, the selected candidates contain at least one component, the noun or the adjective, occurring in at least two fields. The results show the key role of the disciplinary lexicon and its recurrent interactions with the transdisciplinary scientific lexicon for creating noun_adjective terms.

Keywords : scientific transdisciplinary lexicon, terminology, scientific discourse, term candidate, pattern


Traduction de genres économiques de l’espagnol vers l’allemand, le français et l’anglais et vice-versa. Enquête auprès d’entreprises exportatrices

Daniel Gallego-Hernández, Miguel Tolosa-Igualada et Paola Masseau

Abstract: The paper seeks to further work on business texts that are usually translated from English, French and German into Spanish and vice versa. Its main goal is to help translator trainers design specialised courses. We briefly review the literature on business translation and genres. This review shows that these studies have partially covered this subject. This is why we conduct a survey on exporting companies in order to find out what texts they translate most frequently. The results obtained show similarities and differences with previous works, and can be used for different purposes.

Keywords: economic translation, business translation, financial translation, business genres, survey


Reconciling Institutional and Professional Requirements in the Specialised Inverse Translation Class – A Case Study

Patricia Rodríguez-Inés et Olivia Fox

Abstract: Translating into a language that is not one’s native language is no easy task, but one which may be necessary in certain settings. If a market niche exists for professional translators whose working language is not their native language, as studies have shown it does in Spain, it seems appropriate that translation trainees should be encouraged to develop their competence in what is generally known in Translation Studies as inverse (A-B/C) translation, in order to satisfy market requirements. Given current European Higher Education Area (EHEA) requirements for training students for the professional workplace, most translation degree programs in universities in Spain include subjects in which students are required to translate into the foreign language. This paper describes an early attempt to reconcile institutional requirements (curriculum design, assessment, reporting) and professional requirements (development of translation and instrumental competences, together with so-called softskills) in the specialised inverse translation class in the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. A competence-based, learner-centred, process-oriented curriculum was instituted.

Keywords: Translation teaching, competence-based training, inverse translation, translation technologies


Interference and the Translation of Phraseological Units in a Parallel and Multilingual Corpus

Zuriñe Sanz-Villar

Abstract: This paper will report on findings obtained from a corpus-based translation analysis of phraseological units on texts translated from German into Basque, with special emphasis placed on the shape that interference (Toury 1995/2012) takes in German-into-Basque literary translations. It will be shown not only that “typical” source language interference can be found in translated texts, but also that interference arises from other texts and/or languages present in the translator’s mind, most commonly in this study; Spanish. For the purpose of carrying out such an analysis, a digitized, parallel and multilingual corpus was compiled consisting of German source texts (STs), Basque target texts (TTs) and their corresponding intermediary versions in cases of indirect translation.

Keywords: interference, phraseology, corpora, Descriptive Translation Studies, Basque


Transposing Proper Names in Frank McCourt’s Memoir Angela’s Ashes from English into Maltese

Kenneth Grima

Abstract: This paper focuses on the transposition from English into Maltese of the various proper names encountered in Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes (Chapter 1). To achieve this aim, an extended practical translation exercise by the author himself is used. Eight different categories of proper names were identified in the source-text ranging from common people names to nicknames, titles and forms of address. Four different categories of cross-cultural transposition of proper names were considered, although only two were actually used. Various translation strategies were adopted ranging from non-translation to modification, depending on whether the particular proper name has a ‘conventional’ meaning or a culturally ‘loaded’ meaning. Although cultural losses were unavoidable, cultural gains were also experienced. Wherever possible, the original proper names were preserved to avoid any change in meaning and interference in their functionality as cultural markers. Moreover, a semantic creative translation was preferred, especially with proper names that were culturally and semantically loaded to reduce the amount of processing effort required by the target-reader and to minimize the cultural losses of relevant contextual and cultural implications in the target-text.

Keywords: transposition strategies, proper names, cultural losses, cultural gains, literary translation


La interpretación dialógica como práctica estratégica. Análisis de la toma de decisiones de cinco intérpretes en los Servicios Públicos

Marta Arumí Ribas

Abstract: This article examines the strategic behaviour of the Chinese-Spanish public services interpreter-mediator in the socio-educational setting when faced with various types of problems (lexical, cultural, pragmatic, arising from the management of the conversation, and ethical and professional issues). The data were obtained from fifteen filmed simulations which recreated situations that frequently arise in interpreting in the socio-educational field. The data were supplemented by an initial questionnaire and a retrospective interview for the five participants in the study.

The descriptive analysis shows an initial classification of the strategic resources used by the interpreters. Faced with an outstanding use of active mediation strategies and a less frequent use of interpreting techniques, the author argues that it is important to define the difference between intercultural mediation and interpreting in contexts such as this one, to ensure the parties’ transparency and autonomy. Moreover, she highlights the importance of consciously training future interpreters on the importance of taking strategic decisions when problem-solving.

Keywords: public service interpreting, dialogic interpreting, interpreting strategies, social and educational context, interaction


The Impact of the Source Language in Spanish Translations: A Survey on English Counterfactuals ‘Should have’

Isabel Repiso

Abstract: The present article shows that the most frequent way of translating Should have + Past participle in Spanish is the word-by-word translation Debería haber. This preference is not coherent with the language use of natives at three levels: (i) the marginal role of modal verbs to express the speaker’s subjectivity in Spanish; (ii) the preferred use of modal verbs in the past participle position (e.g., No hubiese debido tener libros); and (iii) the predominant use of the pluperfect subjunctive as a prompting tense for counterfactual readings. Our survey is based on 1.7  million-word Social Sciences corpus covering 8 essays, 4 political biographies and 2 dystopian novels. In all, 9  sentences containing should have + past participle were analyzed. The translations were crossed with a reference corpus in Spanish containing 154 million words (CREA). The translators’ preference by Debería haber has an effect in the output texts’ readability since it implies a reversal in the frequencies of the Spanish constructions pertaining to the irrealis semantic domain. Our results provide empirical cues to prevent the word-by-word translation Debería haber, such as avoiding infinitive periphrastic constructions or favoring subjunctive mood’s tenses.

Keywords: covert transfer, word-order, modal verbs, None, subjunctive mood


Translators’ Perspectives: The Construction of the Peruvian Indigenous Languages Act in Indigenous Languages

Raquel De Pedro Ricoy, Rosaleen Howard et Luis Andrade Ciudad

Abstract: An urgent need is emerging in contemporary Latin America for the translation of legal texts from the languages of former European colonial powers into the many indigenous languages spoken across the region. This article addresses the issue in relation to the rise of legislation that requires States to uphold the principle of linguistic human rights. It takes as a case study the translation of the Peruvian Indigenous Languages Act (2011) from Spanish into five Amerindian languages, viewed as a postcolonial practice situated at the communicative interface between the State and the country’s indigenous populations. Our specific interest is the strategic behavior of the indigenous translators, as described by themselves, when communicating to their peoples the State norms contained in the Indigenous Languages Act. In order to analyze this behavior, we depart from text-analytical models and favor an approach based on the translators’ perceptions of their role and their rationales for the translation solutions adopted. The analysis combines theoretical strands from translation studies, legal studies and postcolonial studies so as to throw light on the translation of legal discourse from Spanish into the indigenous languages of Peru, as conducted, crucially, by bilingual translators situated on the cultural “inside.”

Keywords: legal translation, indigenous languages, Peru, language rights, postcolonialism


Deux haïkus de Bashô (étude comparative de quelques traductions françaises)

Seiji Marukawa

Abstract: This article compares several French translations of two haikus of Bashō (1644-1694). The aim of comparison is not to observe the improvement of translation over the years but rather to rethink the so-called untranslatability of poetry, in the case of a language so far from the Indo-European languages. If the harmony of a language harnessed by the poetry is not translatable (according to Dante), we must add “the imitative harmony” of the ideograms (Claudel) for the poetry written in Chinese or Japanese. In translating a poem so brief as a haiku, is only the meaning to be considered, even if the translation seems insipid? And, if there is no other solution than a semantic translation, should aesthetic factors be totally ignored? Yet, even as a semantic translation, the two haikus examined each offer a symbolic problem: the first presents an ungrammatical ellipsis which always has to be completed in translation; in the second, the particle of punctuation serves as a caesura, idiomatic and untranslatable. In each case the translation has to deal with an unstated feeling or thought which the brevity of the poem brings out all the more.

Keywords: haiku, Bashō, French translations, untranslatability, brevity


Émile Nelligan en espagnol : quatre versions latino-américaines d’un même « soir d’hiver »

Madeleine Stratford

Abstract: Émile Nelligan is one of the greatest poets in Quebec, the ultimate poète maudit. Of all the members of the Montreal School, he is the most translated into Spanish. Originally published in Mexico in the 1980s, the first versions were reissued, revised and expanded in the late 1990s. In addition, two Mexican and one Spanish anthologies containing a selection of his work were published between 1996 and 2002. Set to music and included in many textbooks, Soir d’hiver remains one of the greatest Nelligan “classics.” To date, four Spanish versions have come out: one by Marco Antonio Campos (first published in 1989, then in 1999), one by Lorenza Fernández del Valle and Juan Carvajal (1996), one by Benjamín Valdivia (2002) and one by Miguel Frontán (undated, online). Curiously, none of them reproduces at first sight the metrical or rhyme scheme of the original poem. However, one of the translators claims to have paid special attention to the “music” of the lines, even if it meant sacrificing their meaning. This study will determine how the translators approached the poem’s sonority by comparing the poem’s original “soundtrack” with the phonic characteristics of the re-translations and their effects.

Keywords: poetry translation, Nelligan, Latin America, prosody, sonority


Constraints on Opera Surtitling: Hindrance or Help?

Anna Rędzioch-Korkuz

Abstract: The article addresses the problem of constraints typical of opera surtitling, an audiovisual translation modality that seems rather neglected as far as the academic discourse is concerned. Although the term constraint may appear to have mainly negative connotations, it seems that the idea of a constraint may often prove helpful, since it may facilitate the process of translation by restricting the scope of possibilities and hence justify the chosen techniques. The article is meant to propose a classification of potential constraints on the surtitling process, including the constraint of a live performance, music, audience design or relevance, and the resulting implications for the whole process. It is argued that the awareness of the constraints operating in the process of drafting surtitles helps to understand the rationale behind this particular translation activity and consequently helps to draft good quality surtitles which serve their original purpose.

Keywords: opera, surtitling, constraint, translation, audiovisual


La autotraducción como versión prototípica

Xosé Manuel Dasilva

Abstract: In the present paper we advance the concept of prototypical version, which we apply in some cases to the self-translated text that acts as a source (text) for rendering the original text into other languages, in lieu of the original text proper (written in a first language). We think that the author who translates himself frequently deems the self-translated text to be a version of higher rank, since he has introduced into it relevant aesthetic modifications or else has resolved in it linguistic and cultural problems with a view to facilitating the task of other translators. The concept of prototypical version is hereby illustrated through numerous examples belonging to several cultural domains.

Keywords: self-translation, prototypical version, transparent self-translation, opaque self-translation, semi-self-translation