Panel 1

Tuesday, 26 April 2011 22:13

Speech Acts Defining Translation

Call for Papers

In The Conference of the Tongues, Theo Hermans addresses the question of how a translation ‘stands for’, ‘represents’ or ‘mediates’ its original (2007:87). The various possible relations between source and target text (as in the case of ‘declared equivalence’), Hermans argues, cannot be extrapolated on the basis of textual comparison. Rather, these features are ‘imposed on them through an external intervention in a particular context’ (2007:6). Defining and evaluating the relation between source and target text are therefore performative speech acts, which can include a written declaration or other official stamps of legitimacy.


The notions of ‘speech act’ and ‘external intervention’ pertain to the general theme of the conference, “The Politics of Recognition”, in that they consider the role of extra-textual authorities in the recognition of a translated text, as well as the pragmatic purpose of such a recognition. Such authorities and pragmatic purposes may be legal, religious, literary or institutional, amongst others.


The panel builds upon this claim and invites contributions that explore a variety of “translation-defining speech acts”, with the aim to assess, in the light of current research, the circumstances that make it necessary to recognise a translation as standing for, representing or mediating its original. Topics may include, but are not limited to:  

  • the historical / social perception of one or more specific translations
  • the cultural value of different kinds of translation (e.g. religious, legal, literary, scientific translation)
  • translation pragmatics
  • meta-translations
  • translator’s voice and the role of the paratext in defining a translation
  • specific discussion of scholars addressing translation in terms of speech acts


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. wrote her PhD dissertation on Translating Nonsense, Nonsensing Translation under the joint supervision of Theo Hermans (University College London) and Daniel Abondolo (SSEES) and expects to complete her doctoral degree in May 2011. She holds a Licence ès Lettres in Russian and Comparative Literature from the University of Geneva, and a Master of Studies in European Literature from Oxford University, where she specialized in Soviet children’s literatureShe has translated fiction, plays and articles and has worked as a freelance subtitler for the Swiss Broadcasting company SSR.

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