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Essay on Translation Studies: The Skopos Theory

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The Importance of the Brief for a Translator under the Framework of the Skopos Theory
1. Introduction
There has been a heated discussion in the field of Translation Studies with respect to where the emphasis should be put. Should it be on the source text and the sender, on the target text and the receiver or the process itself? This boils down to how one defines translation. This essay offers a critical view on the Skopos theory, which focuses on the translation process. A discussion is included to illustrate the importance of translation brief in both pedagogical and professional settings. Other related theories are presented as well. Finally, the essay concludes with a few remarks and suggestions.

2. Equivalence and the Skopos Theory: a Critical View
One of the most important concepts in Translation Studies is equivalence put forward by Eugene Nida (1964). There are two types of equivalent relationship between the source and the target texts according to him, formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence. Formal equivalence focuses on reproducing the surface structure, i.e. form and content of the source message. On the other hand, dynamic equivalence emphasizes equivalent effect, which implies that translators should aim to produce a similar response in the target audience to that in the source audience. However, scholars have criticized the concept of equivalent effect for being too vague. Moreover, it is almost impossible to create equivalent effect for readers from a different culture. ()
In the late 1970s, the focus of translation studies shifted to the process of translation as well as the receivers. Hans Vermeer is the founder of Skopos theory. As the Greek word skopos indicates, this theory stresses that translati...


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...slators will not ask for a brief even if they know it is better to have one when they do not receive one. There are two main reasons for this phenomenon. Firstly, considering the tight deadline and wage, translators cannot afford the time to ask for information about the target audience or the communicative purposes and then wait for a couple of days to receive replies from clients. Secondly, translators will not ask for a brief because clients do not know the importance of translation brief and sometimes they will even be annoyed if being asked too many questions. To get more jobs in the future, translators would like to maintain a good relationship with clients. (Jensen, 2009) As we can see, although the Skopos theory stresses the importance of translation brief, the reality in the translation industry does not live up to what is expected in the academic field.



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