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2022 Vol. 13 №1

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Ethnography in Translation Studies: an object and a research metho­dology



Based on a review of the literature on ethnography produced by translation scholars over the past twenty years, this contribution explores how translation studies [TS] has appropriat­ed this concept, first as a way to solve translation problems (with Eugene Nida), then as an object (within the cultural turn) and more recently as a research methodology to document and analyze translation and interpreting events in context. The author shows how, in the early seventies, both cultural anthropology and TS saw a change in paradigm that brought the two disciplines closer at the surface level (as the metaphor of culture as a text gained grounds), but that draw them very much apart from an epistemological viewpoint. Indeed, while ethnography was undertaking an interpretive turn, TS chose to define itself as an em­pirical discipline based on systematic and objective observation; this positivistic bias in early TS could partly explain its late adoption of ethnography as a research methodology. This liter­ary review finally reminds us of the many dichotomies out of which TS has grown and struc­tured itself — text vs context; translation vs. interpretation; experiential vs. scientific know­ledge, hermeneutics vs. empiricism, to name but a few — and suggest the need for an inter­pretive move within the discipline.


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