Festschrift in Honour of Christina Schäffner
Edited By Beverly Adab, Peter A. Schmitt and Gregory M. Shreve
Andrew Chesterman, Helsinki: Reservations Concerning The Explanatory Power Of Norms
Andrew Chesterman Helsinki Reservations Concerning The Explanatory Power Of Norms 1 Introduction Translation scholars have made use of the notion of norms both in describing and in explaining translation behaviour, which is assumed to be norm-governed, at least to some extent. Christina Schäffner’s edited collection (1998b) on trans- lation and norms gives a representative picture of much of the relevant back- ground discussions, including some differences of opinion. At the end of her introduction to the collection, Schäffner raises a number of pertinent questions that still need further investigation (1998a: 7-8): [H]ow do we get from the norms to the text, and how do we reconstruct norms from textual features? What is the relationship between regular patterns in texts and norms? How do translators acquire norms, do they behave according to norms, and are they conscious of their norm-governed behaviour? What happens if translators show some kind of deviant behaviour? [...] Is the behaviour of trans- lators indeed governed by norms, or are they actively involved in the maintenance of norms [...]? Some of these questions concern the relation between norms and texts: the iden- tification of norms, and the relevance of textual regularities as possible evidence for their existence. Other questions have to do with the relation between norms and translators: translators’ attitudes to norms, and the significance of possibly deviant behaviour. But to what extent is translation norm-governed behaviour? How well do norms work as potential explanations for translation behaviour, as explanatory hypotheses? Let us start with...
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