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On Ethics and Interpreters


Małgorzata Tryuk

The history of translation and interpreting is above all the history of men, women, and sometimes children, who became translators and interpreters. It is the history of why and how they chose that job, how it affected their lives and work, how they carried out the tasks of translating and interpreting and what consequences their actions had on their families and fellow compatriots. The book presents the lives, loyalties, and identities of interpreters who, either by choice or by force, had to work during wartime, in armed conflict zones, at the trials of war criminals after World War II and in the Nazi concentration camps.
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Chapter 2. The Ethics of Interpreters


Chapter 2. The Ethics of Interpreters

2.1 Why study interpreters?

While translation and interpreting studies as a separate discipline is relatively young, it has already gone through several distinct phases in its evolution. The origins of the discipline may be traced to comparative literary studies and contrastive linguistics. As a result of this, the early focus was on the analysis of original and source texts and/or their constitutive elements, both in the source and in the target language. Above all the concept of ‘equivalence’ governed, and the key issue in any analysis was the search for similarities and differences between the source and target texts (Urbanek 2004). This stream of research has been called the linguistic approach to translation. The socio-cultural ‘turn’ which began in the 1990s brought with it a functional approach, looking at the way translations and interpreting functioned in the target language system writ large, i.e. in its cultural, social, historical, and political context. This approach brought with it a new way of looking at translators and interpreters, examining their relations with employers, publishers, clients, and target audiences, and last but not least, examining the ethical dimensions of their job. The translation scholars adhering to this approach paid less attention to the target text, its linguistic characteristics, transformations, relationship to the source text, and even to the quality of the translation. The focus of their attention was on the translator, following the principle formulated by Anthony Pym (2009: 30): “Study translators, then texts...

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