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1 The main stability lost in a shift from text-based to action-based theories is

the notion of textual equivalence, which becomes a nonissue in skopos/

Handlung theories. For people who believe that translation (and translation

studies) is and should remain text-based, focused on stable structures of

linguistic equivalence between a source text and a target text, this approach

will seem not only impossibly vague and general but not really about

translation at all. Translation studies, they believe, should be about translation,

which is equivalence between texts — not about translators in some huge

sociological context. The skopos/Handlung theorists, on the other hand, argue

that those sociological contexts are precisely where such things as the type of

equivalence desired are determined.

This also means, of course, that any claim to universality is lost: a focus on

the sociological contexts in which equivalence is determined will inevitably

relativize discussions of the "correct" translation, because different people in

different contexts will expect different types of correctness. For people who

prefer absolutes and universals, this relativism will seem dangerous — it will

seem to be saying to students that anything goes. It doesn't, of course — in

those real-world contexts, anything does not go, translation is very closely

regulated by sociological forces — but the comforts of universal absolutes are

indeed lost.

2 The idea here is to give students a chance to talk about their fears and

anxieties, and to help them to work through them to a greater sense of

confidence in their own abilities. Students who are inclined to heap abuse on

such fears should be gently but firmly discouraged from doing so in class.

3 This is a good chance for you to do some proselytizing for your national

and/or regional translator organization or union, and to encourage students

to join, buy their literature, attend their conferences (even, perhaps, offer to

present their projects from this class at those conferences). If you are

personally active in that group, share your experiences with them. Figure out

ways to get the students to attend a conference — does the department have

funds to help students attend? Would a fund-raiser be possible?

4 Social groups are often thought of as airtight categories: each person will be

a member of certain groups, and other people will be members of other

groups, with no overlaps. Obviously, this is not the case. Not only will people

who are members of different groups also at some level be members of the

same group — at the highest level, of course, we're all members of the human

race — but the boundaries between groups are often fuzzy. Racially, for

example, there are probably as many people of mixed race as there are of

"pure" ones (if indeed such a thing exists). Not only are there many people

with dual nationalities; immigrants and people living in borderlands often

have mixed national and cultural loyalties. Even gender is fuzzy: some men

are more feminine, some women more masculine; gays, lesbians, and

bisexuals blur the gender lines; and there is even a small group of hermaphrodites

who are biologically both male and female.

5 This topic is aimed implicitly at this entire book, and specifically Chapters

5—10 of the book, which constitute a series of bridges between theories and

practice. At the extremes of the discussion, some will argue that theorists

should serve practice by telling translators how to translate (usually a highly

unpopular position among translators, for obvious reasons, but one that some

translators do nonetheless hold), while others will claim that theory is useless

for practice and should not be studied at all. Once these extreme positions

have been aired, it will be most fruitful to explore the middle ground between

them: how can theories be made useful for practice? Do we have to rely on

the theorists themselves for this, or is it possible to convert apparently useless

theories into practically useful ones on our own, as readers? (Chapters 6—10

are attempts to achieve such conversions, and the exercises in those chapters

are examples of them.)