Three paradigm shifts in translation studies: An overview

Hosni Mostafa El-Dali, United Arab Emirates University, the U.A.E.


With the development of such disciplines as linguistics, literature, sociology, psychology and the rise of postcolonialism and feminism, more and more theories are applied to translation studies (TS). These theories not only offer new perspectives but also bring new turns to (TS). On the basis of Thomas Samuel Kuhn’s Paradigm Theory (1970), and Long Jixing’s (2012) study on “Turns of Translation Studies”, the present study attempts to demonstrate that the turns of (TS) widen the definition of translation, and that both affect and contact each other closely. That is, a new definition is widely accepted always generates a new turn, and the new turn tends to breed a next new definition and so on and so forth, hence the development of (TS). The focus will be on three paradigm shifts; the first two have been examined and analyzed by many scholars; and the third one represents ‘the next turn in translation’ as Edwin Gentzler argues. The three turns are (1) linguistic paradigm; (2) cultural paradigm, and (3) social and psychological paradigm. A special emphasis will be on the third turn on the basis that it is the future developing trend of translation studies, especially it extends the scope of (TS) to include not only language, context, but also the inside world of human being (The Identity Issue).

Key words: translation, translation studies, paradigm theory