Authored by: Kirsten Malmkjær

The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138933552
eBook ISBN: 9781315678481
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, I discuss the sub-disciplines of linguistics and address some of their relationships to aspects of translation in the context of philosophy. I introduce phonetics and phonology, morphology, descriptive and theoretical grammar, respectively related to the uses of language in society and to the mental representation of language, as well as semantics, pragmatics, genre, text and discourse analysis and, briefly, historical linguistics. Of these, semantics is arguably closest to philosophy, which shares its interest in meaning, although the chapter highlights the different approaches that the two disciplines take to the investigation of this phenomenon. Whereas philosophical semantics is primarily concerned with the nature of meaning, linguistics has tended towards searches for definitions on the basis of components of meanings, often considered to correspond to the perceived essences of things. Of more interest in linguistics than in philosophical semantics has been the related sub-discipline, pragmatics, which deals with the study of language in use. I introduce speech act theory and the challenges that may be posed for translators and interpreters by the fact that neither direct nor indirect speech acts are employed according to identical rules in different languages or even in different context within one language. Such matters also resonate within sociolinguistics, the study of language variety according to location, speaker groups and contexts. Psycholinguistics addresses the place of language in the individual psyche and mind. One relationship between socio- and psycholinguistics on the one hand and philosophy on the other lies in the notion of personality: speakers of one language may find speakers of another overly direct or impolite; and impositions on a people of a language can cause affront, alienation and anomie. The concerns of genre, text, and discourse and conversational analysis are introduced and the relevance theory controversy is discussed.

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