School of Manipulation

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Anne Schjoldager* Interpreting Research and the ‘Manipulation School’ of Translation Studies Abstract
This article examines, explains and puts into perspective what others have dubbed the ‘Manipulation School’. This group of scholars see themselves as working within descriptive translation studies (DTS), as defined by Holmes (1975), and their main methodological tool is a search for translational norms, first proposed by Toury (1980a). The article then explores how these ideas relate to current research on interpreting - especially Gile’s work - and it concludes that, with certain modifications, the theory of translational norms could be extended to interpreting.

1.

Introduction

In July 1993, two colleagues, Helle Dam and Friedel Dubslaff, and I participated in the summer programme of the CERA Chair for Translation, Communication and Cultures at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, organized by the Department of Literary Studies and headed by Prof. José Lambert. As PhD students of interpreting, our special reason for choosing to participate in the CERA programme was that this year its temporary Chair was held by Daniel Gile, an interpreting scholar1. However, though we expected mostly to be interested in what the CERA Chair Professor had to say about interpreting research, we soon discovered that the programme offered other interesting ideas concerning theory and research methodology. Many of the ideas put forward and discussed at the CERA programme may be said to originate in what others have dubbed the Manipulation School (Snell-Hornby 1988:22). This name was inspired by an anthology of essays, “The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation”, edited by Hermans (1985). Most of the scholars in this school, who 1 Previously, the Chair was held by Toury (1989), Vermeer (1990), Bassnett (1991), and

Neubert (1992). * Anne Schjoldager Department of English The Århus School of Business Fuglesangs Allé 4 8210 Århus (DK) Hermes, Journal of Linguistics no. 12 – 1994

66 are mainly concerned with the cultural aspect of translation, see themselves as working within descriptive translation studies (DTS), as defined by Holmes (1975). They also share a methodological framework organized around the search for norms, as defined by Toury (1980a), and they generally agree that research on translation should be the product of interdisciplinary studies. Though I realize that the scholars themselves would rather they were not described as belonging to a certain school2 and though I appreciate that such categorization will always be over-simplified, I shall nervertheless proceed on the assumption that such categorization is indeed possible and useful. I shall also assume that the Leuven scholars behind the CERA programme as well as many of the visiting professors - except, perhaps, this year’s CERA Professor - can, in fact, be classified as Manipulation scholars. Therefore, when wishing to deal with the Manipulation School as a whole and with its possible relevance for interpreting research, I feel justified in choosing my own experiences at the 1993 CERA programme as the point of departure in this article. In the following, I shall first try to give a general idea of what the CERA programme usually contains and - in particular - what it contained in 1993. I shall then try to explain and put into perspective the ideas of the Manipulation School. In this connection, I shall review relevant research on translation and interpreting in both historical and contemporary perspectives. Finally, I shall discuss how the Manipulation School of translation studies may influence research on interpreting in general.

2.

The CERA Programme

The programme bears the name of its sponsor, CERA, a Belgian bank with headquarters in Leuven. The theoretical framework takes its starting point in research work done on translation at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven since the late 1960s. This work was carried out by...
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