Rationalist tendencies in the translation of Slovak historiography into English

Danica Maleková


The paper investigates how dominant epistemic frames backed by the methods of materialist science appropriate a translated text, thus changing its imagery and patterns of meaning. It discusses the language / culture determinants in the process of translation and relates the findings to the tendency towards hegemony in understanding what constitutes legitimate knowledge representation. Employing the tools of the cognitive approach to translation, the analysis is based on a case study of a translation of a Slovak historical text into English. More specifically, the paper explores translation of verbs related to the historical agents and their symbols. The cognitive framework accommodating the analysis shifts the perspective to the imagery invoked, and it is shown that the original imagery is significantly reduced in the target text. The analysis tracks the reductionist processes down to schematization, or what could be called abstractification, with an effect of disengaging the reader from the scene, as well as renormalization of agency, whereby semantic relationships are conventionalized. It is argued that such reduction is not a ‘natural’ process, nor is it necessitated by the variation in the target language structure, and it ultimately serves ideological ends.


Rationalism; Abstractification; Knowledge representation; Historical agents; Translated historiography

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2016.29.09