Translation and globalization

Authored by: Shaobo Xie

The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138657564
eBook ISBN: 9781315621289
Adobe ISBN:


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There are hardly two terms more closely bonded together than translation and globalization. No matter how far it dates back in history, globalization begins with translation, and translation enables and facilitates globalization. If globalization means transnational or trans-border flows of information, commodities, technology, images, narratives, and ideas; as well as the shrinking of distance between geographically separated spaces and communities; and increasing interdependence among nations and peoples in the world, then we have to agree that globalization would not be happening without translation. Perhaps no one speaks of the mutually constitutive relationship between globalization and translation more stunningly than Michael Cronin when he suggests, in the context of discussion on multiple modernities, reconsidering globalization as translation in Translation and Globalization (Cronin 2003: 34). In his view, the global process of modernization is translated into different parts of the world by way of revision and transformation to suit local circumstances. He maintains that ‘Translation is not simply a by-product of globalization but is a constituent, integral part of how the phenomenon both operates and makes sense of itself’ (Cronin 2003: 34). If what is globalized is geographically and culturally differentiated and takes different forms in different places, then globalization as translation implies a double assertion: to be globalized is to be translated and what is translated is always transformed. Translation can also be considered as globalization if translation means or facilitates bridging different languages, cultures, and areas into a globally interconnected world.

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