On semiotic characteristics of possible theories of translation

2020. №1, 65-83

Suren T. Zolyan
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad, Russia;
Institute of Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;
Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Law, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia;


Over the past half century, the theory of translation has been consistently moving along the path of distinguishing between types of translation and differentiation of the semiotic operations underlying them and areas of their application. The question arises — are the various translation theories themselves translatable? Opposing points of view are put forward regarding the most basic concepts — as equivalence, translatability / non-translatability, invariant or its absence, etc. Based on the conceptions already expressed — primarily by R. Jakobson, as well as by W. Benjamin, B. Malinowski, W. Quine, A. Fedorov, M. L. Gasparov, Yu. M. Lotman, N. S. Avtonomova, one can conclude that the theories differ not so much by domains of their application (artistic, technical, synchronous and other types of translation), but by their axiomatics. It may be described as a family of linguistic, semiotic and hermeneutic basic theories of translation. The traductological relativity — i. e., the incompatibility of different translation practices and translations and acceptability of multiple understandings — is considered as a consequence of such profound characteristics of translation as its multivariance, indeterminacy, relativity, incompleteness (incomplete translatability), complementarity and contextualism. This approach extends to such key concepts of translation theory as equivalence and invariant: they are considered not as given phenomena that are only to be revealed, but as contextually sensitive and constructed variables.

For citation:

Zolyan S. T. On semiotic characteristics of possible theories of translation. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2020, 1: 65–83.


The research is supported by the Russian scientifi c foundation, project No. 17-18-01536.