Deconstructing Comparative Translation: Facts, Myths and Limitations

Alan Tse Chung
December 2012
Translation Quarterly;2012, Issue 66, p77
Academic Journal
What is the objective of comparative translation? Andre Lefevere (1992) compares the different renderings of Lysistrata, an ancient Greek play, by diff erent translators at diff erent times and concludes that the translator is oft en at the mercy of the ideology and patronage. Lefevere's project illustrates the fact that conclusions drawn from comparing and contrasting diff erent translations are very oft en extraneous to translation per se, and they certainly have nothing to do with the "quality of translation". Likewise, Tse (2003) observes that translation as an act and translations as texts are very oft en bound up with the socio-political matrix in which they are situated. Thus seen, comparative translation tends to inform us, more than anything else, about the social or personal background against which a particular translation was done, as well as the various constraints which bear on a particular act of translating. This is where we find both the significance and limitations of comparative translation.


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