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Monday, 22 July 2019 09:16

Bloomsburry Handbook of Alternative Translation

Proposal for an edited volume prepared by

Kobus Marais

Department of Linguistics and Language Practice

University of the Free State, Bloemfontein

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The well-known, if somewhat notorious, turns in translation studies are indicative of a field of study that is still trying to find its boundaries. In subsequent turns, translation studies has expanded, on the one hand, the ambit of its scholarly view from linguistics to pragmatics to culture to sociology to ideology/power – keeping in mind that some might arrange the list in different order or use different names for the turns. On the other hand, these expanding efforts did not succeed in expanding the notion of translation itself beyond interlinguistic translation. Not much anyway. In a recent monograph (Marais, 2019), I presented an argument for expanding the notion of translation to that of negentropic semiotic work performed on semiotic processes with the aim of imposing constraints on these semiotic processes to create meaning. Many of the implications of such a theoretical expansion still need to be explored. One such exploration would be to study the ‘alternative’ uses of the term translation. By alternative, I mean alternative to interlinguistic translation. The theoretical work I did opened up all aspects of semiotic activity to translational enquiry. Alternative could thus refer to alternative fields of study, alternative times, alternative spaces, alternative cultures, alternative practices, alternative people or alternative conceptualisations. This volume thus aims at exploring translational aspects in contexts in which scholars usually do not think about translation.

While large portions of translation studies have been trying frantically to defend their field of interest in terms of interlinguistic translation, the rest of the world has been using the term ‘translation’ in a variety of contexts. Translation studies often responded to this wider use by calling it a ‘metaphorical’ use of the term translation. However, the theoretical conceptualisation to which I referred in the previous paragraph argues that these uses are not metaphorical at all. Rather, all semiotic work is based on the basic principle of translation, namely, ‘the meaning of a sign is its translation into another, more developed sign’ (CP) (Pym, 1993, pp. 35-42). Thus, what mathematicians, physicists, biologists, engineers, architects, managers, politicians, theologians, anthropologists, sociologists, semioticians, medical specialists, computer scientists, development specialists and others mean when they use the term ‘translation’ might indeed have specific connotations in that field, but they all refer to a meaning-making semiotic process which operates with the imposition of constraints on semiotic process.

As is well known in translation studies, in interlingual translation, translators and their practices and products differ widely, depending on the space and time under consideration. For instance, relatively little is known about pre-colonial translation practices in Africa or other colonized contexts. Furthermore, new technology allows for new practices.

The aim of this volume is thus to get together as many alternative views as possible on the notion of translation to explore and illustrate the breadth of the notion of translation. Authors are invited to submit papers that present theoretical work or data from their fields that illustrate the unique use of the term ‘translation’. They are furthermore invited to reflect on this uniqueness and to compare the use of ‘translation’ in their field/context with its use in other fields/contexts.

To fit into the category of ‘handbook’, potential authors should consider the following:

· Provide a substantial review of the main ideas and debates in the subject through a review of the literature, outlining the historical development of ideas in the field.

· Assess the main methodologies/paradigms in the field today, outline the main questions which the subject has sought or seeks to address, describe the current research agendas, analyze how the subject does or does not draw on related disciplines (or practices/professions if appropriate), and how it has or can explore key concerns (ethical, epistemological, etc.).

· Outline the likely future of the field, possible developments and new research directions.

I suggest this volume be structured in a number of sections:

· Alternative fields of study, such as

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Computer science
  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Sport
  • Agriculture
  • Law
  • Development studies
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Theology
  • Other
  • Alternative practices, such as
    • Animal-animal communication
    • Animal-human communication
      • Animal psychology
      • Human psychology
      • Animal welfare
      • Guide animals, rescue animals, police animals, etc.
      • Other
  • Alternative technology, such as
    • Computer translation
    • Multimodality/intermediality
    • Interart
    • Other
  • Alternative spaces, such as
    • Rural areas
    • Extreme climates
    • Inner cities
    • Other
  • Alternative times, such as
    • Precolonial times
    • The Anthropocene
    • Post-apocalyptic times
  • Alternative people, such
    • Non-professionals
    • People with neurological, psychiatric or psychological disabilities
    • Autism spectrum
    • Subcultures
    • Cultures or languages that have had no exposure in the translation studies literature
    • Other


1 April 2019 – Call for papers

1 September 2019 – Submission of abstracts

1 |December 2019 – Authors notified of review process

1 June 2020 – First drafts submitted and peer review starts

1 September 2020 – Reworking of drafts starts

1 November 2020 – Final drafts submitted

1 March 2021 – Final manuscript submitted to publisher

For enquiries or to submit abstracts, e-mail Kobus Marais at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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