Independent Study K: Learning about “Translation Studies”

In Independent Study K, students are being encouraged to think about “translation” and “the use of multiple languages” (multilingualism) together. However, thinking about “translation”, which has become such an everyday (or “atari-mae”) part of our lives, is quite difficult without the help of abstract concepts and vocabulary. In order to help students equip themselves with these tools, one of our class activities involves reading sections from a textbook titled “Introducing Translation Studies”, by Jeremy Munday. This book introduces many important concepts such as “source text”, “target text”, and “equivalence”, while also explaining how the discipline of Translation Studies has developed over the last several decades. The twist is that we are reading this book in Japanese translation, which adds another level of complexity. Even though Japan has a rich tradition of translation and is sometimes referred to as a “translation culture”, until recently systematic study of the phenomenon of translation has been relatively limited in Japan, and so the concepts we use to discuss it are translated from English and other languages. Reading a textbook in translation, sometimes referring to the original, is one way to think about that gap, and it is something we are trying to discuss in class as students work on their individual research projects, which I will write about in the next blog post.