Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics

2018

Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics

John Wrae Stanley
Pages 237-270

Verstehend Übersetzen: Hermeneutics, the Pragmatics of Translation, and Specialized Texts

When students – even advanced students – produce low quality translations in my translation classes at the Technische Hochschule in Cologne, it is often due to a diminished awareness of what a translator’s job consists of. Due to an interest in expediency and often influenced by the idea that translation boils down to code switching, students frequently severely truncate any efforts to read and comprehend the source text; instead they often try to substitute words in the source language with those from the target language without reaching an adequate understanding of the source text. The resulting translations almost always bear painful witness to the shortcomings of these “neophyte tactics.” Teaching a hermeneutical approach to translation is one effective way to counter such neophyte tactics. Drawing upon especially Heidegger and Gadamer, I will delineate briefly my own notion of “understanding” with particular regard for use by the translator. Based upon this notion of understanding, an approach to translation will then be sketched out. This is a work in progress, and the approach has not yet rendered a clearly defined technique for translation. However, by outlining some elements of cognition that seem to be essential to the process of understanding, it does demarcate some core issues that should be addressed when devising any pragmatics of translation that is hermeneutical in nature.