THE RELEVANCE OF THEORY FOR TRANSLATORS: TRANSLATION THEORY REVISITED – Isabel Palomo Merino, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
La relevancia de la teoría para los traductores: la teoría de la traducción revisada
La Teoría de la Traducción ha sido una disciplina que tradicionalmente se ha marginalizado en pos de la práctica de la traducción y se ha considerado como un ámbito menor e inferior respecto a esta. Con este artículo se pretende demostrar que esta idea no es precisa: la teoría de la traducción no solo es importante, sino necesaria para los Estudios de Traducción y para todos los traductores. Para ello se presentarán diferentes enfoques de la teoría de la traducción siguiendo un método genealógico –del enfoque platónico, al enfoque lingüístico y científico para terminar con los post-Nietzscheanos-demostrando que la teoría y la práctica de la traducción están inherentemente unidas y son necesarias la una para la otra.
Translation Theory has been traditionally marginalized in the practice of translation and has been considered within the field as a minor, not relevant discipline. In this essay I will show that this understanding is far from being precise: translation theory is not only important but necessary for Translation Studies and translators. In order to show this relevance, I will first review different approaches in translation theory using a genealogical method—from the Platonic approach, to the linguistics-inspired approach and the scientific model, and finally to post-Nietzschean approaches—to demonstrate that theory and practice of translation are intertwined and that theory is beneficial and necessary for translators, even inherent to the practice of translation.
it can be concluded that theory is highly beneficial for translators. Moreover, there is no way out of theory: in every decision the translator makes theory is at stake, although it might be in an unconscious manner. What theory does is to show the mechanisms and the philosophical basis of the ideas developed by translators. Theory is a way to be conscious and responsible of the ethics of translation and translators. It is beneficial because translators who know theory are aware of the big responsibility and impact that their work has. As Foucault would put it: «knowledge is power», meaning that knowledge is an instrument of power. Another of the benefits theory brings to the work of translators is that it offers a philosophical basis to their work. Translation is no longer based on apparently random decisions but it has a political dimension behind it that can be used to explain and answer to critiques. As it has been stated above, theory brings to translators the possibility of sharing ideas, discussing topics, opening dialogues, offering a variety of perspectives… in sum, enriching the field of Translation Studies. It seems that future translators should be aware of the issues posed by translation theoreticians because, apart from making them aware of the philosophical issues at stake, future translators may offer answers to those issues or improve the discussion on them. These future translators have the opportunity to start thinking critically about these issues from a new different perspective and come up with other approaches, questions and perspectives. It is both beneficial for the individual translators and for the discipline of translation.
We have the desire of having clear-cut distinctions, like in the case of translation theory and practice, because that way we can stand for one of them and critique the other. When the truth is that those distinctions are desires that we forget are desires. Theory is inherent to practice just the same way that practice is inherent to theory. Translation includes the two aspects within it, even though we are determined and we desire to separate them. But we should keep in mind that it is just that, an illusion, a desire.