A Theory of Cross-Cultural Communication

Topics: Translation, Culture, Communication Pages: 27 (8875 words) Published: September 12, 2010
A Theory of Cross-Cultural Communication © Anthony Pym 2003 Intercultural Studies Group Universitat Rovira i Virgili Tarragona, Spain* Pre-print version 3.3 The following is a series of propositions designed to connect a few ideas about translation as a mode of cross-cultural communication. The ideas are drawn from a multiplicity of existing theories; the aim is not particularly to be original. The propositions are instead intended to link up three endeavors: an abstract conception of cross-cultural communication, a description of the specificities of translation, and an attempt to envisage the future of such communication in a globalizing age. The various points at which the propositions draw on or diverge from previous theories are indicated in a series of notes. 1. 1.1. 1.2. On cross-cultural communication in general Cross-cultural communication involves the perceived crossing of a point of contact between cultures. Cultures here are minimally seen as large-scale systems of assumed shared references, linguistic or otherwise1, used for the purposes of reducing complexity.2 Cultures themselves may idealize one or several centers, where the shared references are felt to be so dense that communication would be without any need for reductions of complexities. Away from such ideals, cultures have peripheries, where references are sparse, or sparsely shared, or mixed with references shared by other cultures. The terms “center” and “periphery” are not to be understood geopolitically. (cf. Even-Zohar 1990, Toury 1995) The differences between centers and peripheries are operative fictions rather than primary empirical facts. The very belief that one is in a central position may be enough to curtail complexity, just as the false impression that one is lacking in context may increase complexity. (Pym 1998) The difference between center and periphery may also be characterized in terms of effort. When shared references are believed to be dense (all else being equal), the reduction of complexity requires less effort than when the references are believed to be sparse. Effort here is understood as being on both the sending and receiving sides of messages, as well as in any mediating position or investment in the channel. A text sent and received near a perceived center will thus require less investment of effort than the same text sent from a center to a periphery (assuming that the reduction of complexity is




to be to a similar degree in both cases). And further supplementary effort will be needed if the text is to be received in another culture. (Pym 1995) 1.6. The lines between cultures are marked as cross-over points where the communication act receives supplementary effort of a mediating and discontinuous nature. Such points are usually where translations are carried out. (Pym 2001a) Cross-cultural communication thus marks the points of contact between cultures, although it alone will not join up the points to form any kind of line. (Pym 1998, 2001a, cf. Chatwin 1987) On complexity and its reduction Texts are inscribed objects that can be interpreted in different ways and for different functions, quite independently of any original intentions.3 The plurality of possible interpretations is what we are calling complexity. The reduction of complexity does not imply any discerning of a true or primal meaning. For example, a reader at this point might interpret the term “reduction of complexity” as “understanding”, but such a reading will hopefully be deviated by the following paragraphs. In this sense, the reduction of complexity does not entail an act of understanding in any idealist sense. Nor must effort be expended only to reduce complexity. Effort can also be used to make texts more complex, preparing them for a greater plurality of interpretations. Such might be a certain conception of aesthetic pleasure, diplomatic ambiguity, or communicative méchanceté. The degree of appropriate complexity is in each...

References: Agar, Michael (1994) Language shock: Understanding the culture of conversation, New York: William Morrow. Bourdieu, Pierre (1979) Le Sens pratique, Paris: Minuit. Chatwin, Bruce (1987) The Songlines, London: Picador. Chesterman, Andrew (1994a) “From ‘Is’ to ‘Ought’: Laws, Norms and Strategies in Translation Studies”, Target 5(1). 1-20. ----- (1994b) “Karl Popper in the Translation Class”, Cay Dollerup & Annette Lindegaard, eds Teaching Translation and Interpreting 2. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins, 89-95. ----- (1997) Memes of Translation, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. ----- (2001) “Proposal for a Hieronymic Oath”, Anthony Pym, ed. The Return to Ethics. Special issue of The Translator 7(2). 139-154. Colas, Dominique (1992) “Les politiques d’aide”, Françoise Barret-Ducrocq, ed. Traduire l’Europe, Paris: Payot. Even-Zohar, Itamar (1981) “Translation Theory Today: A Call for Transfer Theory”, Poetics Today 2(4). 1-7. ------ (1990) “Translation and Transfer”, Poetics Today 11(1), special issue on Polysystem Studies: 73-78. Frow, John (1995) Cultural Studies and Cultural Value, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Grant, Colin B. (1999) “Fuzzy Interaction in Dialogue Interpreting: Factual Replacements, Autonomy and Vagueness”, Linguistica Antverpiensia 33. 85100. Grice, H. Paul (1975) “Logic and Conversation”. Peter Cole & Jerry L. Morgan, eds Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts, New York: Academic Press, 41-58. Gutt, Ernst-August (1991) Translation and Relevance, Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Halverson, Sandra (1999) “Conceptual Work and the ‘Translation’ Concept”, Target 11(1). 1-31. Holz-Mänttäri, Justa (1984) Translatorisches Handeln. Theorie und Methode, Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica. Katz, Jerrold (1978) “Effability and Translation”, F. Guenther and M. GuentherReutter, eds Meaning and Translation. Philosophical and Linguistic Approaches, London: Duckworth. 191-234. Keohane, Robert O. (1984) After Hegemony. Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. Lambert, José (1989) “La traduction, les langues et la communication de masse. Les ambiguïtés du discours international”, Target 1(2). 215-237. Levy, Jirí (1967) “Translation as a Decision Process”. Reprinted in Andrew Chesterman ed. Readings in Translation Theory, Helsinki: Oy Finn Lectura Ab, 1989, 37-52. Luhmann, Niklas (1989) Vertrauen. Ein Mechanismus der Reduktion sozialer Komplexität, 3. durchgesehene Auflage, Stuttgart: Ferdidand Enke. Mayoral, Roberto (2003) Translating Official Documents, Manchester: St Jerome. Monacelli, Claudia, & Roberto Punzo (2001) “Ethics in the Fuzzy Domain of Interpreting: A ‘Military’ Perspective”. Anthony Pym, ed. The Return to Ethics. Special issue of The Translator 7(2). 265-282. Pym, Anthony (1992a) Translation and Text Transfer. An Essay on the Principles of Intercultural Communication, Frankfurt/Main, Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Vienna: Peter Lang. ----- (1992b) “The Relations between Translation and Material Text Transfer”, Target 4/2. 171-189. ----- (1992c) “Translation Error Analysis and the Interface with Language Teaching”, Cay Dollerup & Anne Loddegaard, eds The Teaching of Translation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 279-288. ----- (1993) Epistemological Problems in Translation and its Teaching, Calaceite: Caminade. ----- (1995) “Translation as a Transaction Cost”, Meta 40(4). 594-605. ----- (1996) “Multilingual Intertextuality in Translation”, Beatriz Penas Ibáñez, ed. The Intertextual Dimension of Discourse. Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza, 207-218. ----- (1997) Pour une éthique du traducteur, Arras: Artois Presses Université / Ottawa: Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa. ----- (1998) Method in Translation History, Manchester: St Jerome. ----- (2000a) “On Cooperation”, Maeve Olohan, ed. Intercultural Faultlines: Research Models in Translation Studies I: Textual and Cognitive Aspects, Manchester: St Jerome Publishing. 181-192. ----- (2000b) Negotiating the Frontier: Translators and Intercultures in Hispanic History, Manchester: St Jerome Publishing. ----- (2001a) “Alternatives to borders in translation theory”, Athanor (Bari) 12, nuova serie: Lo stesso altro, ed. Susan Petrilli, 172-182.
(2001b) “Four Remarks on Translation and Multimedia”, Yves Gambier & Henrik Gottlieb, eds. Multimedia Translation. Concepts, Practices, and Research, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 275-282. ----- (2003) “Redefining Translation Competence in an Electronic Age”, Meta 48/3. Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson (1988) Relevance. Communication and Cognition, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Sprung, Robert C., ed. (2000) Translating Into Success. Cutting-edge strategies for going multilingual in a global age, American Translators Association Scholarly Monograph Series. Volume XI. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. Stecconi, Ubaldo (2002) “Not a Melting Pot: The Challenges of Multilingual Communication in the European Commission”, paper delivered to conference The Translation Industry Today, Rimini, Italy, 11-13 October 2002. Toury, Gideon (1995) Descriptive Translation Studies and beyond, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Cross-Cultural Communication Essay
  • Essay on Cross Cultural Communication
  • Essay on cross cultural
  • COM360 Cross Cultural Communication Guide Essay
  • Essay about Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Cross-Cultural Business Communication Essay
  • Cross-Cultural Communication Matrix Essay
  • Cross- Cultural Communication Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free