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Linguistic and Cultural Aspects of Translation

Linguistic and Cultural Aspects of Translation


The rapid development of translation studies since the 1990s has been accompanied by an interdisciplinary broadening of the field. Discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and literary sociology have exerted a fruitful influence on the discipline, and corpus based translation analysis is gaining importance. Departing from the idea that translation should be considered above all pragmatically, as a domain of parole rather than langue, this research group wants to explore the relation between the translated text and the socio-cultural environment in which it functions. Fictional texts (literature in the first place, but also multimedial arts including film) will occupy an important place in our research. One  range of problems to be studied and discussed is the translation of regiolect, sociolect and idiolect, and the different solutions shown by translators in search of a rewording of the source text’s “poetic function”: how are foreignization, domestication and sanitation realized? The different findings are expected to result in a better general understanding of the translator’s discursive presence in the target text and of translational stylistics compared to authorial poetics.

A second domain of research, directly linked to the first one, concerns the text’s “afterlife” (W. Benjamin) through translation into a new socio-cultural context. A fundamental question in this respect is how translated texts relate to preexisting models in the target culture, and which kinds of impact their reception evokes in the polysystem connected with a particular language or culture. Apart from interlingual translation, there is also space for intralingual and intersemiotic kinds of adaptation.

The scope of this research programme is explicitly interdisciplinary and transnational. Therefore, we aim at collaboration across language departments, and (minimally) between linguists, literary theorists and translation scholars.  Because of its status as an “interdiscipline” par excellence, contemporary translation studies offers  very good opportunities for collaboration between scholars from different fields. Moreover, we strive to establish a connection between research and education through the university’s MA in Translation. The pragmatic approach in our research programme also testifies to our interest in the contextual factors of translation practice. This connection with  translation practice will be reflected in our planned collaboration with translators and translation institutes.  

Current PhD project

Imogen Cohen, The sanitization  of contemporary Dutch fiction translated into English: A corpus study (Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ton Naaijkens and Prof. Dr. Olga Fischer).