The #2 most popular post of 2015: The importance of terminology in translation studies

December 21, 2015 12:48 pm

picture 1Nowadays, there is a lot of specialized literature that considers terminology as an indisputable subject. Nobody even flinches anymore when they hear technicalities in medicine, jurisdiction or other fields of similar importance and honour in today’s world. Understanding this type of specialized language is another thing but with the appropriate procedures, we are capable of familiarizing ourselves with this kind of unique language. Hence, technical sciences such as translation and translation studies or traductology (among the myriad of names that Spanish gives them as discussed below) are nurtured by and co-exist with terminology. It is all, therefore, a matter of logic and symbiosis to create new concepts through the same terminology.

Sometimes, it is true that, it is not about creating new formulas but giving them an additional associated meaning thanks to the terminology that characterizes this term in a particular or specific field. As Maria Teresa Cabré, terminology and linguistics professor and my former lecturer at the Univeritat Pompeu Fabra points out: “Terminology shares with logic a basic interest in concepts. As opposed to semantics, which is interested in the name-meaning relationship, terminology is primarily concerned with the relationship between objects in the real world and the concept that represents them” (Cabré, 1992: 27). Thus, we again come to realise the importance of terminology in regards to translation studies in this specific case where some examples will be explained.

What are translation studies?

This topic has already been addressed in the article “Translation studies and translation, similar yet not the same” where it is explained that the first term is based on the study and analysis of the theory, description and implementation of the translation and interpretation process itself according to Amparo Hurtado, my teacher and professor of translation studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Currently, the methods of “traductology” or “translation studies” in Spanish have been adapted, as it is believed that these terms more accurately define the idea of the same discipline. Hereinafter we will discover the terminological variety that translation studies have been designated with.

And what terminology do we find ourselves with in translation studies?

As is already the case in several disciplines, translation studies do not escape the relationship that unites them with other areas such as philosophy, hermeneutics, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, teaching and many more. It is for this reason, that some authors see translation studies as a multidimensional inter-discipline. Since terminology is the creator of typical terms in this science, it plays a fundamental role in traductology, (as has been indicated previously, this is a frequent case in specialized fields which do not necessarily have anything to do with translation except that they can be classed as sciences such as medicine, engineering or others. Our focus is on traductology). This way, several examples can be found (if we draw on the Spanish language) where a diverse terminology for a phrase such as translation studies is found and presented by Amparo Hurtado 2011: 133-135) where we speak of:

  1. Ciencia de la traducción (ES) à The Science of Translation (EN)
  2. Teoría de la traducción (ES) à Translation theory (EN)
  3. Estudios de traducción (ES) à Translation studies (EN)
  4. Traductología (ES) à Traductology (EN)
  5. Translatología (ES) à Translatology (EN)
  6. Translémica (ES) à Translemics (EN)
  7. Lingüística aplicada a la traducción (ES) à Applied linguistics in translation (EN)
  8. Estudios sobre la traducción (ES) à Studies in translation (EN)

This diversity is the result of different approaches already founded by Holmes in 1972 in “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies”. In English, “traductology” (from the French term “traductologie” which seems to have been adapted to the French language) is known as translation studies and this is also how it is known in other languages such as Italian or Polish among several others.

As already explained above, technical terminology of translation studies is characterized by the creation of new terms that frequently originate from the use of suffixes, prefixes or simply by adding another meaning to already existing terms. Those who study and have close contact with translation studies find that we end up with many new and alternative concepts adapted for this science. Therefore, we find ourselves with words such as:

  • Reformulation, recreation, restate where the Latin suffix “re” can be seen (meaning: do again, do something again, one more time).
  • The Latin prefix “trans” (which means: from one side to another) with results such as transmutation, translatology or transgender (the latter term used by Esther Monzó).
  • Words that acquire an additional meaning such as identity, target language, communicative dimension (the latter term is by Hatim and Mason).

picture 2As usual, the most adapted terminology originates from English where we stumble upon cases such as mapping, shifts or unique terms amongst many others. We can see how this type of Anglo-Saxon terminology is used with different techniques that are emphasized in literal translation, borrowed words and even phonetic adaptations. It mustn’t be forgotten that in many cases we find ourselves with already existing concepts that gain a complementary meaning in reference to translation studies. All of us have heard of concepts such as target language or source language. It is when we encounter authors such as Nida who speaks about translation patterns and more specifically about the translation process where terms should be used according to “their practical usefulness and their explanatory power” (Nida 1969: 489). However, we must keep in mind that terminology originating from languages such as French and German is also found in translation studies. Therefore, we mustn’t limit ourselves to only consider new vocabulary and concepts with English origins.

At this stage, the importance of terminology is emphasized, not only in regards to translation studies but in any science and field. As language evolves and is alive, so is terminology therefore we must take into account these new horizons for analysis and use them correctly.

About the author
Olga Jeczmyk

Olga authorTranslator, Interpreter and Proofreader. Olga holds a degree in Translation and Interpreting from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, she is specialized in Economics and Legal Translation with “FR” as her B language and “EN” as her C language. She spent her Erasmus in Paris and Rome. She received her Masters in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the Università La Sapienza in Rome and concluded a simultaneous interpreting internship in the FAO. She currently studies Translation Studies and Intercultural Studies at the Universitat Autònoma in Barcelona. She analyses the cognitive strategies in the resolution of translation problems in writing translation. She speaks Polish, Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Italian. You can read her blog at and follow her on Twitter at @OlgaJeNo.


• CABRÉ CASTELLVÍ, T. (1992), La terminologia. La teoria, els mètodes, les aplicacions, Barcelona, Editorial Empúries.
• HATIM, B. and MASON, I. (1990), Discourse and the translator, London, Longman. (Teoría de la traducción. Una aproximación al discurso, Barcelona, Ariel, 1995).
• HOLMES, J. (1972), The Name and nature of Translation Studies, Copenhaguen, Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics.
• HURTADO ALBIR, A. (2001), Traducción y traductología. Introducción a la traductología, Madrid, 7ª edición, Cátedra Lingüística.
• JECZMYK, O. (2015), Traductología y traducción, se parecen pero no son lo mismo. [blog] 17 junio, Disponible en: [Consultado el 21/11/2015].
• MONZÓ NEBOT, E. (2003), La traducción jurídica a través de los géneros: el transgénero y la socialización del traductor en los procesos de enseñanza/aprendizaje, Discursos. Revista de Tradução, 2, p. 21-36.
• NIDA, A. and TABER, C. (1969), The theory and practice of [Biblical] translation, Brill.
• SHUTTLEWORTH, M. and COWIE, M. (1997), Dictionary of Translation Studies, New York, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

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