Towards a review of meaning: Semiosis in translation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

© Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2014. The problem of meaning has been debated for a long time in Translation Studies, but it seems necessary to reconsider it again in order to display the underlying complexity of the concept and its consequences in the realm of translation practice. Recounting some of its main formalizations and confronting them to related concepts, we hope to foster some useful thinking about text, interpretation, and a fortiori, translation. In fact, the concepts of meaning and signification - that ordinary language tends to collapse into one -, subtend diverse implications, as their many approaches (whether linguistic, semantic, semiotic or psychoanalytic) and the controversies they have given rise to bear witness. It is not our purpose to enter this debate for its own sake, but to examine correlations between some trends inherited from structuralism and the one presently dominant in the field of translation. Actual text complexity, the symbolic bearing of language, all that emanates from polysemy and textures of iconicity in writing, leads us to foreground a dynamic notion of meaning. Our approach of translation will therefore be grounded on a non-immanent purport of meaning, and, more specifically, on the concept of semiosis or signification in action developed by Charles Sanders Peirce. Insofar as it is more relevant with regards to contextual signification, the signifying productivity considered by Peirce comes close to the concept of signifying chain formalized by Jacques Lacan: the very concept of signifier, established by the psychoanalyst on the basis of Saussure's terminology, but much more akin to Peirce's sign or representamen, might open a different track to explore the complex nature of signifying processes and the relations of the latter with translation. We support these suggestions with a few examples drawn from translations (French to Spanish) of modernist and postmodern literary texts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
JournalMeta
Volume59
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014

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