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Polysystem Theory Even-Zohar, Itamar (1990) Polysystem Studies, Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, and Durham: Duke University Press.

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Presentation on theme: "Polysystem Theory Even-Zohar, Itamar (1990) Polysystem Studies, Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, and Durham: Duke University Press."— Presentation transcript:

1 Polysystem Theory Even-Zohar, Itamar (1990) Polysystem Studies, Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics, and Durham: Duke University Press. Special issue of Poetics Today, 11(1). Developed in the 1970s by the Israeli scholar Itamar Even-Zohar, who borrowed idea the from Russian formalists (1920s)  see Gideon Toury

2 What is a system? Often defined simply as a complex of interacting elements, separated from its environment by a boundary. Other definitions characterize a system as a structured whole with internal connections between the elements being more intensive and qualitatively different from those with elements outside the system. (Hermans 1999: 164)

3 Even-Zohar’s definition of system
“the network of relations that can be hypothesized for a certain set of assumed observables (“occurrences” / “phenomena”)” (Even-Zohar 1990:27) Literary System: “the network of relations that is hypothesized to obtain between a number of activities called “literary” and consequently these activities themselves observed via that network” (ibid:28)

4 Components of literary system

5 Even-Zohar’s definition of polysystem
“a multiple system , a system of various systems which intersect with each other and partly overlap, using concurrently different options, yet functioning as one structured whole, whose members are interdependent”. (Even-Zohar 1979: 290)

6 Translation as a polysystem? Translated literature as a system?
Position of translated literature within the polysystem is not fixed: primary (innovative role in the literary system) secondary Normal position of translated literature is secondary Implications for translational behaviour: translated literature is primary: translation will be source-oriented translated literature is secondary: translation will be target-oriented

7 Assessment of Even-Zohar’s theory
(+) Pioneer in conceiving translations as a group, a system Describing and explaining, rather than prescribing Interest in historical and social context Highlights potentially important role of translations (-) Abstract, not based on data or case studies Rigid, overgeneralizing, oversimplifying Over-reliance on the 1920s’ Formalist model Difficult to define ‘weak/strong’ literature ‘Normal’ position of translation questionnable

8 Descriptive Translation studies Gideon Toury
Toury, Gideon (1995) Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Developing the discipline: Translation Studies as an empirical science Holmes’ map of the discipline Pure (descriptive/theoretical) and applied branches

9 Norms - definition The translation of general values or ideas shared by a community – as to what is right and wrong, adequate and inadequate – into performance instructions appropriate for and applicable to particular situations, specifying what is prescribed and forbidden as well as what is tolerated and permitted in a certain behavioural dimension. (Toury 1995: 55) Tripartite model: Competence represents the inventory of all the options that are available to translators in a given context. Performance is the subset of options that they actually select in real life. Norms is a further subset of these: they are the options that translators in a given socio-historical context select on a regular basis. Continuum: Absolute rule Norm Pure idiosyncrasy

10 Norms - characteristics
Vary according to and within socio-culture Between idiosyncrasies and absolute rules Acquired through socialization Varying levels of strength Basis for evaluation in society BUT category of descriptive analysis Imply sanctions Give rise to regularity of behaviour

11 Types of norm Initial Norm: adequacy vs. acceptability
Preliminary Norms: - Translation policy - Directness of translation Operational Norms: - Matricial - Textual-linguistic

12 Reconstructing Translational Norms
Textual source: the translated texts themselves to find out regularities of behaviour Extratextual source: theoretical and critical formulations and pronouncements on translation in general and on specific translations (statements made by translators, publishers, reviewers, and other actors involved in the translation process)

13 Laws of Translational Behaviour
Law of growing standardization: when ST patterns are totally ignored or modified in translation, thus resulting in a TT which accommodates more to the target language and culture. “In translation, textual relations obtaining in the original are often modified, sometimes to the point of being totally ignored, in favour of [more] habitual options offered by a target repertoire.” (Toury 1995:268) Law of interference: interference from St to TT happens almost by default (tolerance of interference) “The more peripheral this status [of translation in a given subculture], the more translation will accommodate itself to established models and repertoires.” (Toury 1995:271)



16 Assessment of Toury’s model
 (+) Methodology providing robust foundations for future descriptive work Abandonment of one-to-one notions of correspondence as well as the possibility of literary/linguistic equivalence Integration of the original text and translate text into the web of intersecting cultural systems  (-) NOT fully objective or replicable model Ambivalence towards the notion of equivalence and confusion in the terms adequacy/acceptability Need to give a role to translator’s agency Laws are unlikely to be found

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