(2023) ‘Context in Translation and Interpreting Studies’

in Jesús Romero-Trillo (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Language in Context, London & New York: Cambridge University Press, 371-392.

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This chapter explores how scholarly thinking on context has informed research and disciplinary discourses in translation and interpreting studies. It begins with an historical overview of the contribution that linguistics made to the emergence, development and consolidation of translation and interpreting studies as a self-standing discipline between the late 1940s and the late 1980s. Since the early 1990s, previous theorizations of translation and interpreting as forms of mediation positing the essential determinacy of meaning have been superseded by a range of academic perspectives that study how translators and interpreters exercise their professional judgement in context. These range from cognitive approaches exploring how participants in each communicative encounter come to share and make use of a given set of contextual assumptions, to conceptions of context as a field of power play where participants’ identities are dynamically negotiated. This exploration is illustrated with examples from different domains of translation and interpreting research to foreground the breadth of theoretical and methodological orientations that converge within the discipline.

Keywords: translation studies, social perspectives on context, cognitive perspectives on context, static perspectives on context, dynamic perspectives on context, neutral perspectives on context, power-sensitive perspectives on context