Anyone familiar with Holz-Manttari's "Translatorial Action" theory?
Thread poster: Erin DeBell

Erin DeBell  Identity Verified
United States
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Spanish to English
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Aug 23, 2010

I am using some aspects of this theory in a thesis. I have read extensively but I have not been able to access or read the original work in German. Although I have a good grasp of the main points and many secondary points, I want to make sure that a few of my assertions do not misrepresent what she actually said in the original.

One question I have, for example, is whether Holz-Manttari allows for translation that comes about as a result of something other than an explicit commission from the initiator or commissioner. For example, does she discuss self-commission? How broad is her definition of translation?

I'd be thrilled if there are any "translatorial action" experts out there who would discuss this with me or if anyone has access to texts that discuss this theory in more detail than the majority of works that gloss over the main points.

Thanks!


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
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It's twelve years Aug 23, 2010

since I studied Holz-Mänttäri's publication. We called it skopos-theory then. Meaning the tranlation should fulfill its original purpose and deliver the message optimally.
According to H-M the translator is the specialist for the target culture and should translate the message in a manner that the recipient understands it as fully as the sender did in their culture.

The theory is popular among translators, but has never made it to the customers, who generally think the translator should translate faithfully the "text" of the message.

regards
Heinrich


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
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Advocate of native language translators? Aug 23, 2010

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
since I studied Holz-Mänttäri's publication. We called it skopos-theory then. Meaning the tranlation should fulfill its original purpose and deliver the message optimally.
According to H-M the translator is the specialist for the target culture and should translate the message in a manner that the recipient understands it as fully as the sender did in their culture.

I understand that H-M theory is to support Proz.com advocate of native speakers of the target language. However, from the stand point of cultural interface, a third party (not native to source or target language) translator may do well. The reason is, the translator is never biased by both source and target language cultures. In Google search, only 2 hits are seen as references. I understand that the English translation of this theory has been printed once and it limits popularity of this concept.

Best regards,

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:09
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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No Aug 23, 2010

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.) wrote:

I understand that H-M theory is to support Proz.com advocate of native speakers of the target language. However, from the stand point of cultural interface, a third party (not native to source or target language) translator may do well. The reason is, the translator is never biased by both source and target language cultures. In Google search, only 2 hits are seen as references. I understand that the English translation of this theory has been printed once and it limits popularity of this concept.

Best regards,

Soonthon Lupkitaro


The nativeness of the translator is not discussed in the theory. If a translator translates the text as text he does not work according to H-M.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
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I was wrong Aug 24, 2010

The skopos-theory is by Reiß, not Holz-Mänttäri.

Already the German original of H-M's book Translatorisches Handeln is a hard read. So understanding the English translation will be harder still.

I don't know what you mean with self-commisioning?

Because the world of translation does not obey the rules of theory, translations are done in small chunks of text and even by machine translation. That means that in most cases translations are never read or they need hefty post-translational editing and re-writing. We as translators could be part of the process but rarely have a chance.

Regards
Heinrich


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xxxOlaf
Local time: 09:09
English to German
Holz-Mänttäri offers nothing radically new Aug 24, 2010

The following paragraphs from her book present her main theory:

Translation sei ein mit Expertenfunktion auf Produktion gerichtetes Handlungsgefüge in einem komplexen und hierarchisch organisierten Gefüge verschiedenartiger Handlungen; konstituierende Merkmale seien analytisches, synthetisches, evaluatives und kreatives Handeln unter den Aspekten verschiedener Kulturen und gerichtet auf die Überwindung von Distanzen; Zweck translatorischen Handelns sei die Produktion von Texten, die von Bedarfsträgern als Botschaftsträger im Verbund mit anderen für transkulturellen Botschaftstransfer eingesetzt werden ...


Unfortunately, she's one of many linguists who are really good at expressing rather simple and pretty obvious concepts in the most complicated way without introducing any new ideas.
I think it's a pity that many theoretical linguists like her sit in their ivory towers and write papers and books that few working translators will ever read instead of focusing on applied linguistics and translator training.


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Erin DeBell  Identity Verified
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank You Aug 30, 2010

Thank you all for the information. Learning German is now on my to-do list, since practically every source I consulted for my thesis dealing with functional theories was originally in the language. Thank you all for your comments. Self-commission would be when the translator decides on his/her own to translate a certain text as opposed to receiving a commission from a third-party (such as a translation agency) requesting the translation. Vermeer mentions it, but it seems like H-M details the possible players in Trans. Act. without mentioning the possibility of self-commission.

One questions: When H-M refers to translators as cultural consultants, does she mean that cultural consultation itself could qualify as translation? I am pretty sure she does not broaden her definition of translation to that extent, since in the book she mentions the necessity of a source text. That is what I'm really concerned about. Not the demoted role of the ST (typical of functional approaches), but its necessary presence according to her theory.


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Anyone familiar with Holz-Manttari's "Translatorial Action" theory?

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