Skip navigation

In brief

página de inicio ayuda (guía de consulta) buscar descargar (pdf) imprimir broken link



cita SPA Direccionalidad



origen  origins

There are centuries-old examples of translators working into a language other than their mother tongue, including translations into Latin by Greeks and St. Jerome’s translation of the Bible into Latin. However, it was not until the 16th century that reservations about the direction of translation were first expressed. They appear to have begun with Luther, who placed great importance on common people understanding and identifying with the word of God, leading him to question whether that would be possible with a translation performed by a non-native speaker of the target language.


 otras denominaciones  other names

L1-to-L2 translation has been given many names, including theme translation, service translation, prose translation, reverse translation, forward translation, translation into a foreign language, and translation into a non-mother tongue. To avoid any negative connotations, there is currently a tendency to use the name L2 translation. In general, the term directionality is used to refer to the direction in which translation takes place.


resumen  abstract

Directionality refers to the direction in which translation or interpreting takes place within a language pair, in relation to what is considered to be the subject’s first language (L1), second language (L2), and so on, according to the chronological sequence in which the subject acquired those languages, how far removed they are from the subject’s native or mother tongue, or the subject’s level of proficiency in them.

The need for L2 translation is often associated with translating from languages with relatively few speakers into lingua francas (such as English in the Western world or Swahili in certain African countries), although it also arises in other language combinations. L2 interpreting is a common professional practice, e.g., in dialogue interpreting and sign-language interpreting.

There is abundant evidence that L2 translation is an actual practice among both professional and amateur translators, as well as in translator training. However, the translation industry, in certain countries and contexts, and, to a greater extent, academia, associations and institutions have concerns regarding the quality of L2 translation.

There is a popular belief that being able to speak a language enables one to translate from and into it, and it is generally assumed that translation into one’s mother tongue is easier and should be prioritized. However, this is not a clear-cut matter, and professional standards, international declarations, and the codes of ethics of various national and international associations of translators differ in their acceptance of L2 translation as a professional task. Research findings on the quality of L2 translation and the cognitive effort it requires have provided inconclusive data. Many more studies are needed to identify the elements truly affected by directionality.

This entry will deal with the concept of directionality from cognitive, market, and educational perspectives.


ficha   record

autor Patricia Rodríguez-Inés
fecha de publicación 2022
referencia (cómo citar) Rodríguez-Inés, Patricia. 2022. "Directionality" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI.
URL estable