Monthly Archives: May 2013

A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation

I just had an article published in the Journal of Translation titled “A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation”. It discusses theoretical developments in translation theory while advocating a perspective I support called ‘functionalism’ which, in short, argues that translations must be designed to fit particular needs. The logical end to this is that because there are multiple needs, there must be multiple ‘correct’ ways of translating the Bible. The one ‘best Bible’ translation doesn’t exist. The one ‘right’ way to translate doesn’t exist either. Sometimes you’ll need a literal translation, other times you’ll need an idiomatic translation, and both are ‘right’ in their particular situation.

Anyway, here’s the LINK (free registration required to view the paper online) and the abstract:

This article studies the development of twentieth century translation theory. This was a period during which significant theoretical contributions were made in both secular and Bible translation circles. These contributions have had a profound impact on the practice of translation throughout the twentieth century and since. The individuals who contributed to the present state of translation theory worked in both secular and Bible translation circles and this article examines contributions from both. A select history of theoretical developments, focusing on the most important ideas relevant to Bible translation work is given in order to examine the impact of such theories in the practice of Bible translation. These include the philosophical approaches of the early twentieth century; the linguistic era of the 1950s and 1960s; the rise of functionalism and descriptive translation studies; and, finally, the emergence of postcolonial and related foreignising approaches.

Andy Cheung, “A History of Twentieth Century Translation Theory and Its Application to Bible Translation”, Journal of Translation 9:1 (Apr 2013) 1-15. [Link]

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Dr Andy Cheung is Academic Dean at King’s Evangelical Divinity School.