Monday, September 04, 2006

Translation as Anthropology

As someone who likes to read anthropology texts for fun but who unfortunately only took one anthropology course in school (typically for me, it was a class on the anthropology of food!), I really appreciated this quote from Dr. Rajendra Singh, a linguist at the University of Montreal:

“[T]ranslation is best defined as that branch of anthropology in which the field comes to the investigator’s office.”

This is such a succinct way of describing the translator’s job and the necessity of understanding the cultures behind the languages involved in a translation. Too many people believe translation is simply a matter of finding a replacement in the target language for each word in the source language and they forget how much more is required of the translator. Let’s be anthrotranslators, researching every aspect of the languages and cultures we work with.

2 comments:

Helena said...

in a total accordance with what you have written..do you have knowledge of more people doing translation as anthropology? i am in a literature search as i write a short chapter as anthropologist for translators for immigrants (mostly asylum applicants) in slovakia.
thank you!

B.J. Epstein said...

I don't actually have more info on that, but it is a great topic and I hope more research is done on it. Good luck!

Best wishes,
BJ