M1: Unit 1: Q5.2 Answer

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Different people may give different answers, but my view would be that the statement is false.

Some descriptivists would say they are dispassionate observers who aim for a neutral, that is, a value-free account of the phenomenon of translation and everything it entails. The ultimate aim would then be to arrive at a complete and accurate description that would map the whole field of translation. The aim would never be reached, but it is thought to be worth striving towards.

This approach assumes however that there is an objective phenomenon there to be described, and that the terms in which the description is put are neutral. Many, myself included, would argue that this is not so. Language conveys values. Even the most neutral-looking statement contains a vantage point from which the statement is being made, and manifests a selective aspect in that something is being highlighted at the expense of something else. Moreover, phenomena cannot be viewed from nowhere in particular. In a research context one looks at phenomena through the prism of a particular theory. The theory throws some things into relief and ignores others; the articulation of findings will be cast in terms that have meaning in the context of the theory. In drawing attention to some things while obscuring others, a theory in instrumental in constructing the phenomena that being observed by means of the theory.

These are epistemogical debates that affect not only translation studies and not only the human sciences, but all sciences.