Czech and Slovak Translation Theories: The Lesser-Known Tradition

Years of cultural isolation were probably the reason why both the Prague Classical Structuralism, the influential school of the 30s, and its following developments were by-passed on the way to European post-structuralism and

onwards. While western humanities in today’s post-post-structuralist era are occupied with multicultural and epistemological relativism, the Czechs and Slovaks, having revived and revised their structuralism during the 90s, are now occupied with confronting it with current approaches.

Against the historical background of the Czech and Slovak structuralism/s, their pivotal theoretical concepts and methodological underpinnings, the article presents the framework of Levý’s and Popovič’s translation theories, with a very brief outline spanning the 60s and 70s. These two scholars conceived translation as an act of (secondary) communication, as social interaction with an aim anchored in a particular time and place, thus with a prominent focus on socio-historically embedded translators and receivers, translation functions and external conditions. A number of categories and taxonomies on different hierarchical levels (only some are mentioned) were introduced for description and explanation of (a) the translation process (i.e. text in communication and communication in the text bound to its function) and (b) the structure of the resulting product, representing a two-level model of translation. It is also interesting to see how their theories would fare in the face of current methodological and sociological concerns.

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