From Polysystem and Norms to Postmodernism and Post-Colonialism: The Ongoing Impact of the 1970s

R. Weissbrod

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Since the 1970s, Translation Studies in Israel were immensely influenced by the ideas of Even-Zohar, Toury and other researchers who were known as the Tel Aviv school (Weissbrod, 1998). The main ideas that they introduced into Translation Studies were that translation functions as part of a (poly)system and is subject to norms (Even-Zohar, 1997; Toury, 2012). Research was supposed to be target (rather than source) oriented and descriptive (rather than prescriptive). In the course of time, and partly under the influence of international streams of thoughts such as postmodernism and post-colonialism, Translation Studies in Israel moved in new and sometimes opposite directions. However, some basic ideas introduced by Even-Zohar, Toury and others are still influential. In my presentation, I would like to focus on the following ones: (1) To explain translational phenomena, one should look at translation in its historical and cultural context. Moreover, there is a lot to learn from the translational activity as a whole. For example, translation functions as a means to introduce new models into the literary polysystem (Levy Malinsky, 2008). (2) When focusing on a single translation, it is assumed that the source text and the norms embedded in it cannot fully explain our findings. Translations align themselves with translation traditions in the target culture, express the translator's individual preferences and conduct intertextual relations with sources other than the source (Magence and Weissbrod, submitted). (3) Translation has to be redefined for each cultural context. According to Toury (2012: 27-28), fixed, a-historical definitions led to two undesirable results: texts accepted as translations in their culture were ignored because they did not conform with the researcher's definition, or condemned as faulty rather than perceived e.g. as functional agents of change. A broad conception of translation, on the contrary, triggered the study of intralingual and intersemiotic transfer (Weissbrod, 2004; Weissbrod and Kohn, 2012; Karas, 2016). Following in the footsteps of Toury (recently in 2012), mediated and pseudo-translations, too, became legitimate objects of study due to their role in historical processes (Weissbrod, 1990). It is reasonable to assume that even the postmodern interest in translation as a means of colonial oppression and anti-colonial protest (Cronin, 2000; Venuti, 1998) developed from the basic idea that translation is a social activity and not just a collection of individual texts.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2017
EventThe 1st World Congress of Translation Studies - French Society for Translation Studies, Paris, France
Duration: 10 Apr 201714 Apr 2017 (Website)


ConferenceThe 1st World Congress of Translation Studies
Internet address


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