Pascal Michelucci: "Translating by Factors: Book Review"


Finally, it might be interesting to expand upon what makes a factor relevant, obligatory or optional. This qualification of factors is at least as interesting as defining their quality. It seems to me that some form of stylistics has to be called upon to reach that goal. Translating by Factors provides a sound basis to build upon as far as translation factors are concerned. It is one of few methodical inventories of the many aspects of the ubiquitous concept of factors, although a few passages deserve to be rephrased in terms of factors (p.113-114, p.185-197) and shift focus from what the various nuances mean to how factors can be invoked to explain asymmetric variants. Such a radical application of factor theory appears as a promising stepping stone for further studies. It appears that the next logical step is to specify a gradient of factor priority as it purports to the translation of discrete items other than modals: between unavoidable and binding constraints, syntactic and lexical, to those that become more diffuse as we approach more modulated influences (p.5), and those that might be invoked as idiosyncratic options and deploy stylistic selection processes. Identification factors are qualitatively different from compensation factors, and do not operate at the same stage of the translation process. Indeed, the determination of a hierarchy of factors appears bound to grapple with truisms (p.29, p.285), as well as with very thorny questions (see the exciting discussion of Eton, p.294-297).

The compact format of Gutknecht and Rölle's study deserves mention, for it provides a unique abridgment of a translation methodology which will make it successful beyond German-English translation milieus. Furthermore, Translating by Factors is a handy compendium of figures of the authors' own making and from other sources. Their terminology is rigorously explained, with a brief general survey of knowledge in the field. The final 18 pages of bibliographical references &emdash; a triumph of selectivity &emdash; offer an impressive federation of today's linguists: grammarians Leech, Quirk, Palmer, Matthews; translatologists Toury, Wilss, Snell-Hornby, Gutt, Delisle; and theorists Austin, Teun van Dijk and Eve Sweetser. The bibliography is followed by a very thorough subject index. It will no doubt provide good "inspiration" (p.10).

Other book reviews online:

Juan Bosco Camón, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, vol. 3, no. 2 (March 1998).

Manfred Prokop, Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht, 1996

Sean Golden, "Review: Gutknecht & Rolle: Translating by factors", The Linguist List 8.757: 1-4 (1997).

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