Pym Discussion Questions

Pym refers to the idea of tertium comparationis, which explains a possible universal understanding for meaning that lies outside of individual languages. Therefore, as Snell-Hornby clarifies, it is assumed by natural equivalence thinkers that all languages posses the ability to be conveyed in a similar manner. However, doesn’t variance in culture imply that this cannot always be true? Pym rationalizes that if translation presents a new concept or way of thought to a culture, how can the introduction of this idea be deemed natural? There is also concern that major cultures feel dominance over the rest of the world in accordance to their belief that the world is a reflection of those civilizations that achieve power. Anthropologist, Stuart Hall, questions the concept of “the West and the Rest” and how this notion came to be. He comments that the European’s discovery and expansion into the New World brought with it the theory that industrialized Europe is what all societies strive to become. This belief then diminished their appreciation for the unique culture that they had encountered. In conclusion, based on which assumptions (if at all) is it fair for one society to determine their language is superior to that of another?

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Kendall Hughes

My name is Kendall Hughes and I am a senior at Bucknell University. I am a Psychology and Sociology major. I have taken French courses since my freshman year of high school. I also lived abroad in Germany for two years. I am interested in translation studies because I would like to further understand culture differences and how language can contribute to a barrier of understanding among people.

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