Talk Schleiermacher To Me

In my new life as a recovering academic I find that I have a lot less to say than I used to about Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768 – 1834), beyond that he completely revolutionized our thinking about translation (indeed, can be argued to have invented modern literary translation as we know it today); that Goethe ripped off his ideas (on the basis of which Walter Benjamin decided Goethe was the man when it came to early 19th century translation theory); and that his work anticipated pretty much all the major ideas about the political implications of translation found in turn-of-the-21st-century translation theory. Schleiermacher understood that human beings are, among other things, linguistic beings, and that the language we grow up speaking influences our entire psychological makeup and worldview. He understood that transplanting literary works between languages involves so much more than negotiating mere semantics, since each work is, among other things, a product of the culture in which its author is rooted. Really there’s no reason to stop talking about Schleiermacher ever. Have I blogged yet about translating his seminal treatise “On the Different Methods of Translating” for the Routledge Translation Studies Reader (2nd and 3rd editions only); Lawrence Venuti hired me to do a “Schleiermachian” translation of it. In other words, I’m pretty heavily invested in the guy. So If I weren’t completely snowed under with other projects that I’m also in love with, I would seriously consider submitting a paper to the Big Schleiermacher Colloquium that will be taking place in Portugal next autumn. You, however, gentle reader, with your profound love of ideas about translation and your inexhaustible stores of free time (“free” = not already accounted for a year in advance), should definitely follow up on this opportunity, particularly as next year marks the 200th anniversary of Schleiermacher’s first presentation of his treatise as a series of lectures at the Royal Academy of Science in Berlin. The anniversary colloquium will be trilingual (English, German, Portuguese), and will be held at the University of Lisbon on Oct. 24 and 25, 2013.

Here’s the call for papers the organizers have sent around:

Two hundred years after his famous lecture at the Royal Academy of Science in Berlin, during the Napoleonic era, Friedrich Schleiermacher still remains an assiduous presence in Translation Studies bibliography all over the world. His definition of two (and only two) methods of translating has become indispensable to the common core vocabulary of both translators and researchers of translation alike. This binary opposition dates back to Saint Jerome, or even Cicero (De Oratore) and still retains all of its attractiveness, being referred to by different designations such as translation methods, strategies, procedures or norms. Among its best-known contemporary representatives are Gideon Toury’s initial norm of adequacy vs acceptability (Toury 1995) or Lawrence Venuti’s foreignizing vs. domesticating strategies (Venuti 1995), in either empirical or post-modern studies. Many other researchers, however, also structure their reflections on translation according to binomials that, when submitted to closer scrutiny, immediately reveal their close resemblance to Schleiermacher’s proposals.

However, such proposals are far from being circumscribed to the definition of methods of translating, since they encompass a basic reflection on the relationship between thought and discourse, the translator, the typologies of translation, translation quality assessment, the reader/addressee, or even the need for a translation policy within the framework of a language policy, which is evidently relevant for the cultural dynamics he aspired to find in his country and language at that time. Despite some features that may be considered controversial nowadays (such as the idea that “one must be loyal to one language or another, just as to one nation, or else drift disoriented in an unlovely in-between realm”, which is so dear to the proponents of the hybridity and the “in-betweenness” of the translator), Schleiermacher still inspires important reflections on translation to this day. This conference seeks to offer a privileged forum for such contemporary reflection on translation.

Papers will be accepted on the following topics (among others):

• Contemporaneity vs. timeliness of Schleiermacher’s proposals
• Translation and Language
• Language and translation policies
• Methods, strategies, tactics, procedures and translation norms
• Translation and ethnocentrism
• Translation and nationalism
• Translation and power
• Schleiermacher’s theory as the basis of historical or sociological approaches to Translation Studies
• Foreignizing translation and the translator’s agency

Keynote Speakers: Lawrence Venuti and José Justo

To submit a paper proposal or if you have questions, send an email to the organizers or visit the colloquium’s website.

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