Tyulenev, Sergey (2014). Translation and Society: An Introduction.
New York: Routledge, pp. 210, US$39.95 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-415-72122-6.
In recent years, critical views within the field of Translation Studies have focused on translation as a social practice. The "Social Turn" in Translation Studies entails the discussion about the socio-political as well as the ethical responsibility of the agents involved in the translation process. This "turn" does not designate a complete break with traditional views, such as the "Cultural Turn" (Bassnett/Lefevere 1990) did; instead, sociologically based approaches within the field of Translation Studies "take established approaches as a basis for both sketching new horizons and furthering developments in a specific area" (Wolf 2001: 2). Thus, "the social" has become an essential area of research in the realm of translation as numerous publications in this area prove (e.g. Simeoni 1998; Gouanvic 1999; Wolf and Fukari 2007).
Against this background, the major aim of this profound book is to offer a comprehensive overview of translation as a social phenomenon, especially for students and new translation scholars. The focus lies on translation as a social practice and is understood as "an invitation to look at the well-charted terrains from a different viewpoint and perhaps discover some new features" (1-2). Its aim is thus to show what is at stake in regard to translation and sociology.
The book understands translation as social practice in its diversity. This perspective enables new researchers to combine their own research interests with existing theories in the field of sociological approaches to translation, "the crossroads of TIS [Translation and Interpreting Studies] and sociology within the sociological turn" (1).
The book is structured logically into nine chapters. Each chapter offers guiding questions and exercises so that the readers have the possibility of checking whether the content of each chapter has been clear and understood. The chapters present key concepts and a profound introduction into (sociological) theories. It also provides food for thought regarding the social function of both translation and translators. Furthermore, the book offers a critical look at the role of the translational profession in society. As Tyulenev argues, translators combine individual and social experiences that have an influence on their professional performance as "every translational decision is an interface between the translator's own individuality and the society of which s/he is a part" (11).
Tyulenev also elaborates on how sociological translation research can be conducted (Chapter 5) and outlines what a research design is and what methods can be used for sociologically informed research projects. This chapter also presents sociological methods that can be borrowed from and applied to translation research. This chapter is especially useful not only for Translation Studies students but also for their teachers as it helps to structure research-oriented classrooms. It enables students and new researchers to intensively deal with sociological questions in the context of Translation Studies in a well-grounded way. This can lead to new and exciting research in the field of translation sociology.
The book features clear illustrations including valuable background information (boxes, figures, tables) and examples. These efforts prove Tyulenev's aim to make the book especially accessible to students and new researchers. The selected bibliography and index complete the rich content of the book.
In summary, this book encourages and validates the importance of sociological approaches in Translation Studies. It combines basic sociologically informed approaches in an accessible way. Sergey Tyulenev's book can thus be understood as an illuminating guide to translation sociology and a great help for both translation students and teachers who want to engage in the field of translation and society.
- Bassnett, Susan & André Lefevere (eds) (1990). Translation, history and culture. London & New York: Pinter.
- Gouanvic, Jean-Marc (1999). Sociologie de la traduction. La science-fiction américaine dans l'espace culturel français des années 1950. Arras Cedex: Artois Presses Université.
- Simeoni, Daniel (1998). "The pivotal status of the translator's habitus." Target 10(1), 1-39.
- Wolf, Michaela (2011). "Mapping the field: sociological perspectives on translation." International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2011(207), 1-28.
- Wolf, Michaela & Alexandra Fukari (eds) (2007). Constructing a sociology of translation. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
University of Vienna