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Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


The term translation, commonly understood as the act of rendering words from one language into another, has come to describe several linguistic and cultural processes, abstract concepts as well as professional activities, the products of these activities, and various academic fields of study. To define translation means then to understand all the different traditions that have contributed to shaping this concept, and the complex cultural patterns that influence its practice. The etymology of the term, from the Latin traducere (trans meaning “across,” “beyond” and ducere meaning “to lead,” “to guide”), shows that translating could at first be described as the act of bringing over, of guiding across. This physical movement, transferring objects or conducting people from one place to another, later came to designate the act of replacing words and texts in one language with words and texts in another language. Words, just like objects and people, can in fact be “borne across,” re-placed and re-defined, although this replacement always implies a transformation; a change in the terms. The fundamental role translation has played in the history of the world is “letting pass” texts from one language into another, and from one culture into another, allowing people to transfer information between different and distant cultures, and contributing to the creation of a shared knowledge, and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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