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Reviewed by:
  • Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics ed. by John Stanley etal.
  • Mohammad Ali Kharmandar
John Stanley, Brian O'Keeffe, Radegundis Stolze, Larisa Cercel (Eds.), Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics Bucharest: Zeta Books. 2018, 400 pp.

The second volume of translational hermeneutics (Übersetzungshermeneutik), including the papers selected in the 2013 symposium, indicates that this movement or emerging school of translation studies and human communication is effectively consolidating its foundations while initiating a dialogue with other disciplines; in this volume three major trends are visible: (a) translational hermeneutics is developing in a self-critical line as it questions its limits (e.g. the need for empirical considerations and framing practical methods); (b) the papers selected are the matically focused (divided into philosophical and practical sections) and tend to expand the territories of the studies; and (c) literature and culture are not the sole concerns in the practical approaches, while empirical/communicative contexts and cognitive science are now part of the issues explored. This volume consists of fourteen papers (in English and German) and an introduction.

In the an introductory paper, John W. Stanley, Brian O'Keeffe, Radegundis Stolze, and Larisa Cercel report the current situation of translational hermeneutics, especially in the light of issues such as empiricism and methodology. The authors admit that the underpinnings of hermeneutics are abstract, but hope that the present publication can contribute to the practical problems of translation and communication. The authors finally divide the themes addressed in the volume into six major concerns: individual subjectivity and understanding, supra-individual frameworks, voice and phonetic phenomena, effective presentation of translation to the audience, the impact of understanding on target text production, [End Page 401] a pedagogical approach to translation, and phenomenological/hermeneutical research methods in translation studies (7–12).

Brian O'Keeffe tries to situate translation in Gadamer's philosophy by associating poetry translation to reading, writing and memory. Exploring two relevant essays (Stimme und Sprache and Hören-Sehen-Lesen), O'Keeffe describes writing as a fixed imprint that might represent the poet's intention, while identifying reading with understanding. Reading is seen as a medium that transforms writing into a phonetic entity. This transformation is regulated by a hermeneutic mediation, which gives an independent existence to the poem. The meticulous consistency of poetic musicality (living voice), however, suggests that poets write for readers of the same mother tongue. Therefore, although reading and translation are partially similar, the purpose of the former is to generate an artistically acoustic phenomenon, whereas the latter is meant to overcome linguistic fragmentation (and normally fails to recreate the original) (15–45).

As a rarely addressed but important concern in translational hermeneutics, terminology/specialized translation inspires George Heffernan to probe into the English translation of the phenomenological terms essence (Wesen) and eidetic (Eidos) with reference to Cairns's English translation. Heffernan unfolds several accounts of complexity/ambiguity in Husserl's language and argues that word choice can influence the way a philosophical discipline is perceived. The paper concludes that translation and understanding are mutually related, prior translations can serve as a guild-line, and over-determination (consistency) and under-determination (ingenuity) can decide a term in the face of various options (47–75).

In a paper that elaborates on the principle of subjectivity in translational hermeneutics, Radegundis Stolze breaks the modes of translator subjectivity into three categories: cognitive, existential, individual. Following a critical history of Western interpretation theories, Stolze explains that the cognitive dimension involves structures of thinking, self-observation, and procedures that ensure consistency in the meanings perceived. The existential dimension situates the translator in a contextualized/intersubjective position framed by history, language, culture and society. The individual aspect includes personal emotive/affective responses, deconstructive reactions to traditions, and creativity (77–99).

Critical of the limits of linguistics in translation theory, Lothar Černy explores the theoretically complicated link between semeiotics and hermeneutics in translation. This study relies on Schleiermacher's hermeneutics and Peirce's semiosis to constitute its theoretical foundations. Semiotic analysis is concerned with the structure of the signifying process (e.g. function, interaction and development of interpretants), whereas hermeneutics unfolds "interpretive response." As such Peirce's theory would focus on the evolutionary growth and lack the...


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