R. Weissbrod

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


This chapter maps the different and often clashing approaches to the relationship between translation and meaning and introduces some of their main representatives. It addresses the following approaches: (1) Translation is capable of transferring meaning. Actually, as Jakobson (1959) claims, this is what translation – whether interlingual, intralingual or inter-semiotic - is about. Distinguishing between meaning and style, Nida and Taber (1969) stress that the transfer of meaning should be the translator's primary aim. (2) Translation cannot transfer meaning; it consists of ‘textual equivalence' (Catford 1965), but due to the differences between languages, equivalence does not entail the transmission of meaning. (3) Meaning is not what translators are supposed to transfer. The most prominent representative of this idea is probably Walter Benjamin (1968/1923). In his view, the aim of translation is to reverberate the source language so as approximate the ideal of a ‘pure language'. (4) Translators are authorized to create meaning rather than transferring it. This idea, which developed under the influence of postmodernism and poststructuralism (e.g. Derrida 1985), is particularly prominent in the context of feminist approaches to translation, where even ‘hijacking' (Flotow 1991) – meddling with the original meaning so as to serve the translator's agenda – has been practiced. (5) Translation Studies are not about meaning. Hickey (1998) and Toury (2012), each in his way, illustrate a conceptualization of translation which does not depend on ‘meaning'. With due reservations, the concept of meaning can thus be a means to map Translation Studies, while highlighting its tight connections with philosophy.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy
Editorsp. Rawling, P. Wilson
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9781315678481
StatePublished - 2018


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