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Language Proficiency and Social Acceptance

Sintagma: revista de lingüística
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ZABALBEASCOA, P. (1993): Finding the Proper Places for Prescriptiveness and Descriptiveness in Translation, Sintagma 5(1993), pp. 49-58 FINDING THE PROPER PLACES FOR PRESCRIPTIVENESS AND DESCRIPTIVENESS IN TRANSLATION PATRICK ZABALBEASCOA Universitat de Lleida 1 . The Nature of Translating This paper works from an understanding that translation is not a natural process. There is a will behind each production and an understanding as to what translations are and what translating involves. Translating is subject to personal opinions, to fashions, to social attitudes, to authorities on the subject and other influential forces. No text contains an inherent translation of itself. For this reason, to my mind there can be no objective translation rules. Normative translation rules are similar to the rules of a board game; somebody decides what they are to be, and if you find yourself playing that game you will have to obey those rules. The analogy for translation might be a stylebook. Other translation rules derive directiy from rules of logic, common sense, composition, grammar, and any other factor which is related to the translating process, but which is also separately identifiable. This explains how somebody can translate without knowing theoretical translation rules. The fact that stylebook rules are frequently ill-defined or not defined at all helps towards explaining the need for a certain amount of intuition. I feel the following considerations are important for Translation Theory: a) The interdisciplinary nature of translation studies demands interactivity with scientists and experts from various areas of knowledge, firstly, to identify and explain factors operative in the process, and, secondly, to account for translation as a product. This is not to say that translation studies are not viable for their own sake. b) While the description of translation production may be objective, translation strategies are subjective and often respond to arbitrary restrict

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