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Book Chapter

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Sheed and Ward/Rowman & Littlefield


The fact that people regularly translate from one language to another or-as the American Bible Society (ABS) New Media Translations Project has done-from one medium to another, may seem to make it easier to evaluate those translations. At some point, people can, and do, claim that one translation "works" while another does not, that one translation has greater aesthetic qualities than another, or that one translation is more faithful than another. The fact that people make such judgments, though, does not necessarily make it easier to explain theoretically how they make them.

Among other things, communication study examines both the process of communicating and the product. What might it contribute to an understanding of fidelity in translation? Various perspectives on communication, reflected in models of communication, can illuminate the process and, indirectly, the attendant question of fidelity. Without attempting any comprehensive treatment, I shall present four such perspectives: communication as transportation, communication as a semiotic system, communication as ritual, and communication as conversation. After a brief introduction to each, I shall examine the consequences of each for fidelity in translation. Finally, I shall offer me more genera l comments drawn from this treatment.

Early communication theory, following a kind of transportation model, fosters a view of fidelity that favors a sense of equivalence-something that can be measured . Later communication theory follows a more ritualistic view and asks what communicators do with communication; in this view, fidelity becomes more functional. Yet another approach sees communication as a manifestation of semiotic systems; in this view, fidelity manifests surface changes in a deeper structure (see essays by Hodgson and Stecconi in this volume). Finally, an interactive approach places communication as a conversational system; here fidelity takes on a different value-more a characteristic of the audience than of the text.

Chapter of

Fidelity and translation: Communicating the Bible in new media


P. A. Soukup


Copyright © 1999 Sheed and Ward. Reprinted and reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint

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