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The Translator- Centered Multidisciplinary Construction

Douglas Robinson’s Translation Theories Explored

Lin Zhu

This book embraces the epistemological and methodological issues of theoretical construction in the field of Translation Studies from a historical and global perspective. The theoretical stances are explained in detail through a systemic inquiry into the constructive aspects of theoretical innovation of the American translation theorist Douglas Robinson. In order to renew and promote theoretical thinking in the field of Translation Studies, this book aims to reflect on existing theoretical problems in translation, trace the translation theorist’s innovative and constructive ways of thinking about translation theory, and explore productive philosophical and theoretical resources of translation studies. This book will not only be helpful to a further and full understanding of Robinson’s thoughts on translation, but also offers a rethinking of how to advance Translation Studies epistemologically and methodologically.


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5 Liberating the Translator: Robinson’sTranslator-Centered Theoretical Models 141


141 CHAPTER 5 Liberating the Translator: Robinson’s Translator-Centered Theoretical Models The translator-centeredness of Robinson’s translation theory can be clearly demonstrated by its constant theoretical theme: translator lib- eration. As the name suggests, translator liberation means freeing trans- lators from oppression. Translators in the West have been oppressed by the dominant or mainstream ideology of translation, especially by the Augustinian ideosomatics of translation, which was characterized by the principles of dualism, rationalism, instrumentalism, and perfection- ism (Robinson 1991). In fact, in both Western and Chinese translation history, translators in many cases were described with various passive and lowly images, like servants, slaves, matchmakers, dancers with bondage, a shadowy presence, traitors, and so on. Translators often felt guilty, incapable, and even despairing under these conditions and under the conventional Augustinian ideology. This assumption of the translator’s passive, invisible, or humble status not only runs counter to the important roles translators play in society but is harmful to the development of the translation industry. On the basis of his in-depth reflections on the historical and present situations of translation and the translator, Robinson has established his translator-centered and practice-oriented translation theories, with the aim of breaking the bondage imposed upon translators by the longstanding ideosomatic assumptions. His translation theories describe and explain the real states of the translator’s emotional and psycho- logical process from different perspectives, and the social influence on the process. They reconstruct the contemporary active images of the translator and present the theorist’s translator-centered theoretical mod- els and progressive social-constructivist...

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