Is translation indispensable or expendable? Is it a necessary evil and a constant reminder of our limitations or rather a powerful way of enlarging our understanding and experience? Is translation always benign, beneficial and positive or can it turn into a sinister, malign and ethically dubious activity? Are we always in control of what we translate? Is translation an end in itself or a means to an end? Why do we translate (not just what for)?
These and similar questions demonstrate that while reflecting on translation we inescapably reflect on much larger issues, such as meaning, sense and purpose; identity, sameness, and similarity; the relationship between part and whole; between the message and its medium; between ideas; between texts; between individuals; between individuals and texts; between communities; between texts and communities; between different times and places; between what is fixed and what is dynamic; between exercising force and experiencing influence, etc.
In this seminar, I propose a certain thought experiment, founded on serendipity, in order to offer a new method of theorising translation. At the centre of my approach is the conviction that when it comes to translation – as well as to other mental processes of understanding, reasoning, and explaining – the HOW is at least just as important as the WHAT. Perhaps scholars in other disciplines (e.g. philosophy, logic, linguistics, social sciences, anthropology, and theology) are saying something important about translation without fully realising it? If this indeed should be the case, then translation studies (an inter- or trans-discipline by definition) may serendipitously learn from as well as contribute to other fields.
About the Speaker:
Dr Piotr Blumczyński is a lecturer in translation and interpreting at Queen’s University Belfast. His areas of interest and research include translation theory, ethnolinguistics and cognitive semantics as well as translator and interpreter training. He has published in leading journals in the field, including TARGET, Translation Studies and translation. He is the principal investigator in an international research network studying English valuative concepts in translated religious and devotional texts. Recently he has been working on a monograph that seeks to integrate reconceptualised insights from philosophy, theology, anthropology and linguistics into translation theory.