Domesticating the theorists: a plea for plain language

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Throughout the history of translation, those who we now call theorists expressed their views in respect to the translation process and the desired results to be achieved by translation. They formulated their views by advocating translation ad verbum or translation ad sensum and, more recently, by defending or opposing the theory that a translation must read like an original text. Nevertheless, whatever their views, whatever the controversy they provoked, they all had one thing in common—their definitions and their explanations were written in straightforward language. One unfortunate consequence of the present popularity of Translation Theory and Translation Studies has been the trend to eschew plain language and to use, instead, a pseudo-scientific style that often leaves the average reader in a state of mind ranging from incredulity to dizziness. The interest linguists began to show in translation about four decades ago has resulted in both benefits and losses. The benefits concern the theoretical content, the deeper insights into how language works, while the losses consist in the way in which all this is expressed. At present, teachers and students of translation are bewildered at the growing incomprehensibility of the books and articles that flood the market. The plea made in this article is for a return to plain English in Translation Studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslation Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


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