German Translatology

Jana Rakšányiová

This brief outline does not intend to give full details of the variety of German translatologic literature. Its aim is to present the most outstanding trends, names and publications. First, the translatologic terminology is defined and traced back to its origins, based on dichotomies loose/literal translation, translatability/non-translatability, and mainly in German theory of translation also germanization and exotization. M. Luther preferred using vivid language and germanization in his translation of the Bible, but F. Schleiermacher, vice versa, was pessimistic in the question of transcending the spirit of a language.

The theory in the second half of the 20th century diverged in various directions, most significant being machine translation and linguistics, seeing language as a system of signs. In eastern Germany there was a strong "Leipziger Schule", in the Western Germany there were centres of research and teaching of translation Mainz/Germersheim, Heidelberg (which specialized later in functional translatology), Saarbrücken, but also Werner Koller and others, who researched equivalence relations and typology. Wolfram Wilss, a classic German translatologist, focused on the translation as a process.

Thematic fields of the research were: linguistic orientation (reflecting mainly scientific and pragmatic texts), literary scholarship orientation (Armin P. Frank in Göttingen and his team), and functional orientation, focusing on the function of the translation and its changeability.

In the year 1986 Mary Snell-Hornby came up with a stratification model of translation. Meanwhile, in the eighties the model of inter-cultural communication was being developed (Katharina Reiss and Hans Vermeer), idea of translation as a cultural phenomenon and the theory of scope (Skopos-Theorie). The idea of dominance of purpose in every translation meant focus on the aim and function of the translated.

In German translatology there is discussion going on also about other relevant questions, such as translatological text and genre typology, special tasks in artistic and scientific (pragmatic) translation, strategies and didactics of translation. Very up-to-day topic is also a research on the management of translator knowledge (Wissensmanagement).

Keywords: German Translatology. Leipzig School. Equivalence. Scope. Theory of Artistic Translation. Management of Translator Knowledge.