Gutt's relevance theoretic approach to translation (1991/2000b) offers a cognition-based theoretical framework for the study of translation. However, as Tirkkonen-Condit (2002) notes, it does not go far enough, since it fails to show what is unique to translation and what role interlinguality plays in translation. The present paper represents an effort to make one step forward by elaborating the concept of secondary communication situation and by following up some of the problems raised by or naturally arising from Gutt's approach. The paper accepts the view that translation is a prototype concept (Snell-Hornby 1988/1995), ranging from simple repetition in the same language at the same time through intralingual translation to written interlingual translation. Ironically, the role of language change in translation, neglected in some theories of translation, including that of Gutt, has to be emphasised again. In a similar manner, the author finds that the role of constraints on achieving relevance in various types of communication must receive more attention. For this reason the term message adjustment, borrowed from studies of second language acquisition, is introduced. It is suggested that message adjustment is closely related to the principle of relevance.
Translational communication, in relevance theoretic terms, is interpretive language use, depending on a pre-existing text. Types of translation that cannot be regarded as interpretive still share the latter feature. Ordinary bilingual communication is descriptive language use, i.e. it represents independent text production. Both types of communication involve the use of two languages, and this fact may account for similar phenomena appearing in both types of communication.The present study surveys parallels between proposed translation universals and similar features of bilingual communication, which we may tentatively call language contact universals. The present paper hypothesizes that both kinds of universals (or general features) are likely to be manifestations of universals of constrained communication. The main constraint on bilingual communication is the need to manage two languages. Linguistic uncertainty resulting from the parallel activation of two languages affects both bilingual and translational communication. In the latter, an additional constraint is the fact that it is interpretive language use. Both types of bilingual communication give rise to special language varieties (translated language and contact language varieties). Further research to confirm these hypotheses is called for.
“Interpreting for Relevance: Discourse and Translation”,Institute of English Studies of Warsaw University, Poland, Kazimierz Dolny, 12-14 June 2006; “The Future of Conference Interpreting: Training, Technology and Research”, University of Westminster, London 30, June - 1 July 2006
Maeve Olohan: Introducing Corpora in Translation Studies; Andrew Chesterman & Emma Wagner: Can Theory Help Translators? A Dialogue Between the Ivory Tower and the Wordface; Per Qvale: From St. Jerome to Hypertext. Translation in Theory and Practice