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Mapping Translation Studies in Korea

Using the Holmes Map of Translation Studies

LEE, Hyang Marina

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

La traductologie constitue un espace extrêmement complexe qui attire les chercheurs
venant d'horizons très variés. C'est la raison pour laquelle nous avons besoin d'un point de
référence, d'une cartographie permettant de situer les recherches en cours dans ce
domaine. Or, si la fameuse cartographie de Holmes (Holmes map) a été abondamment citée
et commentée, encore peu d efforts ont été déployés pour appliquer cette cartographie à la
réalité des recherches traductologiques et mettre en lumière les éventuels écarts.
Cette étude se compose de quatre parties. La première présente les principales
caractéristiques de la cartographie de Holmes. La deuxième est consacrée à la classification
d'un échantillon de recherches sur la traduction publiées en Corée du Sud selon cette
cartographie. Dans la troisième partie, les éventuelles faiblesses et lacunes de la
cartographie de Holmes, révélées par le classement effectué dans la partie précédente,
seront analysées. La partie finale sera dédiée à l'analyse des convictions intimes cachées
dans la cartographie de Holmes.

Holmes map, translation studies in Korea, empirical science, mapping, non-empirical

I. Translation Studies needs a map

Approximately forty years have passed since Translation Studies was first purported
to be an autonomous academic discipline after having long been considered a mere sub-
discipline of literature or linguistics. When Holmes (1988: 66) proposed the name of
Translation Studies for this independent field of study separate from linguistics and
presented his own map for its entire structure in his much cited paper1, a belief that it
would grow into a relatively well-structured academic discipline encompassing a vast

* This work is supported by the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of
Holmes presented his map for the first time in 1972 in the Translation Section of the
Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics, held in Copenhagen from 21-26 Augu
st 1972. This research is based on the expanded version of this paper published in his 19
88 book.

array of domains was prevalent. Yet, the reality of TS today is a somewhat a different
story. As Hermans (2002: 1) pointed out, TS has emerged as a far more varied and
controversial discipline than Holmes had anticipated, and this is not entirely a recent
development. More than 15 years ago, Baker (1996: 9) already summarized this
discipline using two keywords, ‘radical change’ and ‘fragmentation’, and such change
and fragmentation seem to be an ongoing process even today.
In a sense, change and fragmentation are not deplorable in themselves. However, they
post a major challenge in grasping the realm of TS research. Even within the realm of
TS, scholars are bitterly divided over what the object of study should be, what the most
appropriate methodologies and approaches are, and what TS should ultimately aim to
achieve. Some scholars stick to the traditional view that TS should delve into matters
directly related to the text or language, or problems inherent in the translation process,
whereas others, such as Pym (2000: 336), maintain that a narrow focus on nothing but
translation is ideologically pernicious. Mossop (2001: 159) suggests that translating as
an economic activity must be the starting point of TS, which is refuted by other scholars
who place more weight on the ethical and philosophical reflections regarding the roles
or functions of translation.
Korean scholars are no exception in having contrasting perspectives on and
approaches to TS. Even though Korea is neither a multilingual nor a multiethnic country,
it has shown great interest in the practice and theory of translation. Translated books
comprise about 30 percent of the books published annually in Korea, which is the
highest percentage among OECD countries, and much higher than that in neighboring
Japan (5 percent).2 With translators (and interpreters) in high demand, there are six
graduate schools3 offering practical interpreting and translation training programs.
Meanwhile, thanks to the interest in TS, there are currently two graduate schools in
Korea with established doctoral programs that offer a standalone TS degree, and not as

According to the Korean Publishers Association, the percentage of translated books in K
orea’s overall book market stood at 30 percent in 2007, 31 percent in 2008 and 27.6 per
cent in 2009.
Graduate schools offering interpretation and translation programs have been established at
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Ewha Womans University, Sun Moon University, Seoul
University of Foreign Studies, Handong Global University and Cheju National University. Some
universities have a separate track in interpretation and translation in either undergraduate or
graduate courses.

a subdiscipline of linguistics or literature.4 Moreover, a total of five academic societies
and six journals5 devoted to research into translation and interpreting now exist in
Korea and more than 100 papers are published every year.
However, this does not mean that discourse on translation has long awaited a separate
forum named TS. Language and literature majors from English-, French-, German-,
Spanish-, Chinese- and Japanese-speaking communities have been contributing to the
theoretical reflections on translation by applying either linguistic or literary theories to
translation. As Gile (2012: 76) noted, “academic members of the community who are
not practitioners of translation or interpreting themselves have contributed immensely to
the academic dimension of TS,” and the same is true in Korea as well. A considerable
number of them have entered the realm of TS and have contributed to the discourse on
translation along with ‘practisearchers’, literary translators, pragmatic translators,
translation teachers and other scholars with different backgrounds. As a result, whether
in Korea or elsewhere, it now seems fairly difficult not to get lost in this labyrinth of
complicated horizons and approaches in the field of TS. This is the reason as to why TS
needs a map.
What, then, should such a map entail? What is often referred to as a map in TS is
actually a ‘conceptual scheme’ by which various ongoing discourses within the bounds
of TS are classified and summarized based on certain criteria. The most talked about
map goes by the name of the ‘Holmes/Toury map’, which Gideon Toury drew up in the
form of a tree diagram based on Holmes’s conceptual reflections on Translation Studies.
The Holmes/Toury map divides TS into two areas, Pure TS and Applied TS, which are
further broken down into different sub-branches. However, this is not the only TS map,
and the classification method varies from author to author.

The first standalone Ph.D. program in TS was established in 1999 at the Graduate School of
Interpretation and Translation of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. The doctoral program,
established in 2005 at the Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation of Ewha Womans
University, has recently begun to graduate students.
A total of six TS journals are published by five academic societies. The names of the societies
and their journals are as follows:
The Korean Association of Translation Studies: The Journal of Translation Studies
Korean Society of Interpretation and Translation: Interpretation and Translation and Forum
Interpreting and Translation Research Institute: Interpreting and Translation Studies
The Korean Association of Interpretation & Translation Education: The Journal of Interpretation
and Translation Education
Korean Society for Translation Criticism: Translation Criticism

Williams and Chesterman (2002: 6-27), for one, categorize TS into the following 12

Text Analysis and Translation / Translation Quality Assessment / Genre Translation /

Multimedia Translation / Translation and Technology / Translation History / Translation
Ethics / Terminology and Glossaries / Interpreting / Translation Process / Translation
Training / Translation Profession.

Besides Williams and Chesterman, many scholars have attempted to come up with
new ideas for structuring TS. It is true, of course, that some have warned against the
possible pitfalls that such a mapping may entail. Pym (1998: 3), for instance, points out
that maps tend to make one look in a certain direction and overlook the other; hence,
they can become a ‘peculiar instrument of power’. In fact, each method of mapping
reflects its author’s personal belief regarding TS. Toury (1995: 10), who believes that
TS should free itself from the restraints of prescriptive discourse, places emphasis on
descriptive TS when he drew up his map, considering this branch as the focal point of
TS. Williams and Chesterman (2002: 58-60) make only a cursory comment on non-
empirical and conceptual research because they are convinced that TS is, and should be,
an empirical science. All maps reflect their drawers’ points of view and socio-cultural
backgrounds. The advantage of this is that one can ascertain the authors’
epistemological assumptions about today’s TS by looking into how they draw their
maps of TS. In short, by using maps, we are constantly reminded by the fact that one’s
research area is only part of a bigger whole.
TS is a so-called interdiscipline positioned within the interface between many
adjacent disciplines. Scholars from various horizons have ventured into the realm of TS,
often bringing with them their own concepts and experiences. However, they are often
reluctant to admit that their approach is just one of many different angles from which to
look at TS. Therefore, it is essential to figure out ways to set common coordinates for
ourselves in order not to get lost in the vast space of TS. A lack of communication
between literary and commercial translations and the disharmony between theory and
practice, and between scholars and translators can perhaps be attributed to the lack of a
common map.

The subtitle of Williams and Chesterman’s 2002 book The Map reads ‘A Beginner’s
Guide to Doing Research in TS’; yet, beginners are not the only ones who need a map.
A map is a useful tool for every serious researcher who wishes to know what is being
discussed outside his or her area of study. Certainly, a map can be a peculiar instrument
of power, but as Pym (1998: 4) suggests, any limitation inherent in a map can only be
eliminated by remapping.

II. The Holmes map as the starting point

TS requires a map, or a framework, that would enable scholars to classify research

pursued within TS. What, then, is required of us to draw a good map? Perhaps a more
realistic question is, where should we start?
The present study intends to limit the scope of research to Korea, where research into
T & I is exploding these days. Of course, drawing a map of TS in Korea is far from a
simple task given its nature and scale; thus, it requires careful collaboration between
experts from various fields. In order to achieve this ultimate goal, this study had to set a
feasible interim aim, which is to conduct certain preparatory research work or
experimental investigations into TS research in Korea.
Pondering upon where to start on this puzzling question, it was evident that there
was no sound criteria, i.e., a conceptual tool of any kind, to classify the ongoing
research in Korea. A method of mapping that has been agreed upon by all parties
involved does not yet exist. Should such a method be the Holmes map or should it be
Williams and Chesterman’s idea of breaking TS down into 12 areas? What is the most
appropriate way of classifying TS research in Korea? What is interesting is that devising
an appropriate conceptual tool to draw a map of TS in Korea is possible only after the
completion of the map itself as well as the discussion of the final results of the
classification. Therefore, there was no choice but to make use of an existing tool in
order to classify the research in Korea and then improve it according to the results of the
The present study includes the following three steps: first, one of the existing
mapping methods was selected as the standard, and some studies conducted in Korea

were classified in accordance to the mapping method chosen; second, an overall trend in
the research as well as the possible limitations inherent in the existing mapping method
were identified; and finally, the issue of how to revise the existing mapping method is
Here, two practical decisions were made.
The first one was concerned with the question of which research was to be counted.
Namely, the corpora to be analyzed had to be initially determined. Given the
demonstrative and experimental nature of the present study, the corpora to be selected
had to be moderate in size, but sufficiently representative of the Korean Translation
Studies. In this respect, the 423 articles published in the Journal of Translation Studies
(JTS) over the last fourteen years seemed to fit the bill. JTS is a journal published by the
Korean Association of Translation Studies (KATS), the biggest academic association of
translation scholars in Korea. KATS, founded in 1999, published the journal
semiannually from 2000 to 2007, and has published it quarterly since 2008. In addition,
English abstracts are also downloadable from KATS online archives
(http://www.kats.or.kr), making it easier to access papers published in this journal.
The other problem pertained to selecting which method of mapping to use. We
decided to adopt the Holmes/Toury map as a starting point. Some may object to this
decision, arguing that the map was drawn 40 years ago and that many scholars have
pointed out the pitfalls of the map (Doorslaer, 2007: 27). As Gile (2001: 148) states,
given the diversity of paradigms, this map may no longer be adequate for advancement
in the field. However, no one has explained convincingly what it is that is missing in the
map and what problems may arise when it is applied to today’s TS field. More
specifically, no study seems to have attempted to prove that the map is insufficient in
any respect. Therefore, this research attempts to classify the papers published in JTS
based on the Holmes map and discuss its meanings and limitations.

III. Understanding the Holmes map

In his epoch-making paper, Holmes (1988: 67) concluded that TS had reached a point
where it could no longer be explained with paradigms and models adopted by scholars

from neighboring disciplines; Further, he proposed a map for a new autonomous
discipline named TS. In order to properly understand the Holmes map, we need to
understand one of the convictions underlying his conceptual tool (Holmes, 1988: 71):

[…] it follows that TS is, as no one I suppose would deny, an empirical discipline.
Such disciplines, it has often been pointed out, have two major objectives, which Carl
G. Hempel has phrased as ‘to describe particular phenomena in the world of our
experience and to establish general principles by means of which they can be
explained and predicted. ’ (Emphasis added by the author).

Holmes believed that TS should be an empirical discipline, and that its aim would
naturally be to describe the individual phenomena and establish the general principles.
Based on this conviction, he distinguished descriptive TS (DTS) from theoretical TS;
the goal of the former is to describe translation phenomena and the latter, to establish
general principles. Furthermore, Holmes added a third axis of TS, which he named
‘applied branches’. A tree diagram of the Holmes map, drawn later by Toury (1995: 10),
is illustrated below in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Holmes/Toury Map

Descriptive TS, a sub-branch of pure TS, is subdivided into product-, process- and
function-oriented branches in terms of three different focuses of description. Perhaps
the most complex of all the branches of the tree is the entry ‘partial theoretical studies’.
Depending on the focus, partial theoretical studies branches again into six sub-
categories: medium-restricted, area-restricted, rank-restricted, text-type-restricted, time-
restricted and problem-restricted branches.
Examining the map above, however, leaves one wondering about whether it can be
called a map. Generally speaking, a map is a drawing of a particular area in a given
moment, showing its geographical distributions and terrain features. Yet, the Holmes
map is more like a plan or a ‘blueprint’, betraying its drawer’s wishes and expectations,
rather than an accurate reflection of the discipline’s actual landscape in those days. For
example, Holmes (1988: 73) explains process-oriented DTS as follows:

Process-oriented DTS concerns itself with the process or act of translation itself. […]
but there has been very little attempt at systematic investigation of this process under
laboratory conditions […], and it is to be hoped that in future this problem, too, will be
given closer attention.

Holmes’ explanation (1988: 73) of the general translation theory also serves as an

The ultimate goal of the translation theorist in the broad sense must undoubtedly be to
develop a full inclusive theory accommodating so many elements that it can serve to
explain and predict all phenomena falling within the terrain of translating and
translation, to the exclusion of all phenomena falling outside it.

Both the process-oriented DTS and a ‘full inclusive theory’ mentioned above are
what Holmes envisioned about the future of TS. In this sense, categorizing translation
research in Korea using the Holmes map may be a good method for verifying whether
today’s TS (at least in Korea) has evolved as Holmes envisioned.

The following presents the results of categorizing Korean translation research based
on the diverse categories proposed by Holmes in his map.

IV. What the Holmes map tells us about TS in Korea

This study sorted through a total of 423 papers published in JTS over the last fourteen
years (2000-2013)6 using the Holmes map as a guide. As expected, this process turned
out to be a challenging task. The papers often overlapped across categories. Moreover,
determining which feature was dominant in a given article became the most important
task, which, despite repeated verification, makes the present study somewhat vulnerable
to its author’s own subjectivity. Consequently, the classification results of the present
study need to be perceived as rather preparatory material that would aid our
understanding of the main features of TS in Korea, instead of concrete statistics. The
focus will not be on a quantitative analysis of papers falling within a particular category,
but on a comprehensive summary of the important facts found during and after the
classification task.
The findings are described below.

4.1 A substantial number of papers were classified under ‘partial translation theories’.

It turns out that about 210 of the 423 papers sorted in the present study are on partial
translation theories. Partial translation theories, which Holmes (1988: 73-74)
distinguishes from general theories, are explained as follows:

Most of the theories that have been produced to date are in reality little more than
prolegomena to such a general theory. […] Others, though they too may bear the
designation of “general” translation theories (frequently proceeded by the scholar’s
protectively cautious “towards”) are in fact not general theories, but partial or specific
in their scope, dealing with only one or a few of the various aspects of translation

The latest issue of JTS, published as of 30th December 2013, is not included in this pa

theory as a whole. (Emphasis added by the author).

As can be seen above, Holmes defines partial theories as those that fall short of being
‘general’ or as ‘prolegomena’ to general theories. The papers that fall within this
category have been subdivided into six sub-groups: medium-, area-, rank-, text-type-,
time- and problem-restricted groups, as shown in Figure 1. As a result of sorting, a
considerable imbalance was observed in the distribution across the six sub-groups.
Problem-restricted research (e.g., “A Study of Metaphor Translation from English to
Korea,” JTS volume 3/number 2) accounted for over 22 percent of the total classified
papers that were concerned with partial translation theories, followed by text type-
restricted research dealing with features peculiar to translations of particular text types,
such as scriptures, movies, novels, poems or scientific texts, accounting for 20 percent.
Within this group, a considerable number of papers were classified into two or more
categories. For example, “The constraints of the Korean and Japanese cartoon
translation due to a metaphor and a picture image” (JTS 9/1) could be classified as text
type-restricted research and problem-restricted research simultaneously, because it deals
with both a particular text type (translations of cartoons) and particular translation
problems, such as those encountered in the translation of metaphors and picture image.
It also fell under area-restricted partial theories because it examines a translation
between Korean and Japanese.

4.2 A substantial number of papers were classified as DTS, and they were mostly found
to be product-oriented TS, while there were only a few function- and process-oriented

As aforementioned, Holmes described product, process and function as the three

describable objects of TS. Here again, the results were lopsided: 122 out of 143 papers
classified as DTS were in fact product-oriented. Many papers in this category –
“Japanese-Korean Translation Problem in Korean Translation of Hon’yaku To Nihon No
Kindal,” (JTS 9/3) or “A Study on the Translation of William Blake’s Poetry by Yong-
Cheol Pak” (JTS 7/1), to name two – attempted to analyze and describe translated texts
as a result of the act of translation.

On the other hand, only a handful of papers involved the other two focuses of DTS,
the ‘translation process’ or ‘socio-cultural function(s) of translation’.
Concerning the translation process, only four papers have been published in JTS on
this subject over the last fourteen years (e.g., “The Effects of Strengths and Familiarity
of Metaphors on the Translating Process,” (JTS 9/3)). Because research on translation
process needs to be collaborated with studies in other surrounding fields, such as
cognitive science and psychology, we would need more time in order to witness
tangible contents emerging out of this area of TS. In other words, there may be some
research that has been pursued in academic fields other than TS, which will not be
discussed in this section of the present study.
Only 20 papers investigated the social-cultural functions of translation. Studies such
as “The Socio-cultural Function of Translation in Joseon Dynasty” (JTS 10/1) or “The
Present Situation of Translation in Korean Public Organizations” (JTS, 2/2) were
classified into this category. The results convey that the object of description is mostly
limited to particular translation products, and that attention has been paid more to the
text and language than to the process or function of translation.

4.3 The distinction among theoretical, descriptive, and applied TS was found to be

Holmes (1988: 78) states that the three branches of theoretical, descriptive and
applied TS are in dialectical relation with one another, with each area influencing the
other two areas. Nevertheless, it seems clear that he perceived these three areas to be
distinguishable. However, many of the papers examined could be classified into more
than one area. For example, “A Study on Translation Strategies for Wordplay:
Comparing Two Korean Translations of Alice” (JTS 8/2) could be categorized as
descriptive since it compares two translation versions of the same text. However, at the
same time, the study could be classified under problem-restricted partial theories
because it focuses on translation strategies for wordplays. Another article, “A Study on
the Mistranslation in Japanese Contemporary novels” (JTS 2/2), which analyzes a
modern Japanese novel in order to point out translation errors, could be either text-type-
restricted TS or applied TS in that it involves both a particular text type and translation

Theorists of DTS, including Toury (1995), oppose prescriptivism for being subjective,
unscientific and intuitive; however, as it turns out, description goes often hand in hand
with prescription in many studies. Brownlie (2003: 58) states the following:

The distinction between prescription and description itself is not absolute. The
normative elements in a descriptive approach bring it closer to a prescriptive approach.
Conversely, we find large sections of committed approach studies which read like
descriptive studies, for example a detailed linguistic description of a series of
renderings may precede the appreciation of those renderings in political terms.

More studies must be conducted in order to see if the distinctions between pure TS vs.
applied TS and between descriptive TS vs. prescriptive TS can be a legitimate
categorizing criterion in this field.

4.4 A substantial number of studies classified within translation criticism pertained to

translation errors or mistranslations.

Some 24 papers were found to fall within the area of translation criticism. Examples
include such articles as “A Study of Errors in Korean-Japanese Translation for the
Travel Information Leaflets” (JTS, 3/2), “The Study of Errors in Korean-Japanese
Translation for the Online Travel Information Guides” (JTS 4/1), and “Cases of
Mistranslation in Two Christian Bestsellers: The Prayer of Jabez and The Purpose
Driven Life” (JTS 6/2). Many of these studies were ‘prescriptive’ in nature, given that
they were primarily concerned with methods of producing a ‘good’ translation or
normative proposition, such as ‘this needs to be translated in a certain way’. Studies
involving an error analysis of certain translations (e.g., “An Error Analysis of Korean-
English Subtitles in the Korean Drama That Winter, The Wind Blows”) (JTS,14/4)
accounted for half of the papers classified in this category; however, this does not
systemically lead to constructive theoretical reflection. It was also often difficult to
grasp exactly how and with what criteria the translations have been assessed.

V. What the Holmes map does not tell us

In fact, more attention needs to be paid to what cannot be classified than what has
been. Approximately 46 of the 423 articles were unclassifiable according to the Holmes
map. These unclassified studies can provide us with important clues as to what has been
overlooked and what is missing from the Holmes’s map. The key points of our findings
are as follows.

5.1 Interpretation studies seems to require a separate set of sub-branches.

In Holmes’s own account of his map, interpreting is mentioned only briefly and is
never regarded as a discrete category. Holmes (1988: 74) remarks on interpreting as

[...] there are some theories that I have called [...] Medium-restricted theories,
according to the medium that is used. Medium-restricted theories can be further
subdivided into theories of translation as performed by humans (human translation), as
performed by computers (machine translation), and as performed by the two in
conjunction (mixed or machine-aided translation). Human translation breaks down into
[...] oral translation or interpreting (with the further distinction between
consecutive and simultaneous) and written translation. (Emphasis added by the

According to his map, heterogeneous areas, when seen from today’s point of view—
i.e., machine translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting—fall
within a single sub-category, medium-restricted research under partial translation
theories. Certainly, most of the papers published in JTS over the last fourteen years are
about written translation, with only 29 odd studies on interpreting. Therefore, we cannot
say that studies on interpreting make up a significant portion of TS in Korea. Yet, the
qualitative aspect of each of these studies needs to be looked at from new perspectives.
The topics of the 29 articles—i.e., community interpreting (e.g., “Professionalism of
Interpretation from Community Interpreting Perspective,” (JTS, 7/1)), simultaneous

interpreting (e.g., “Omission Error in English into Korean Simultaneous Interpretation,”
(JTS, 2/1)), court interpreting, interpreter training, interpreting strategies, etc.—are a
sign that diverse types of interpreting are being initiated for study. Just as research on
written translation, research on interpreting should also be broken down into product-,
process- and function-oriented studies. In a nutshell, interpretation studies (IS) need as
detailed a classification system as that required by written translation. In a sense,
Holmes may have overlooked or underestimated the significance of interpretation

5.2 A separate category is needed for diachronic approaches to the history of translation.

Pym (1998: 1) has already brought to our attention the fact that the Holmes map lacks
a consideration of the ‘history of translation’:

[...] the curious fact remains that neither Holmes nor his commentators - at least those
subscribing to the map and its variants - explicitly named a unified area for the historical
study of translation. This merits some thought.

As pointed out by Pym, Holmes never designated a separate category for studies on
the history of translation. Holmes (1988: 72) simply says that one of the eventual goals
of product-oriented DTS might possibly be a general history of translation.
Only a few studies were conducted on the history of translation in Korea. Hence,
more research needs to be conducted in order to ascertain whether these subjects have
been studied in other academic fields, such as history or political science. The articles in
this category involve such meaningful subjects as translational issues in a particular
historical period (e.g., “Translation and the Birth of New Women in Korea, 1876-1910”,
(JTS 10/4)); the translation history of a particular geographical region (e.g., “Theory
and History of Translation - With Special Reference to German Tradition”, (JTS 1/1));
and Korea’s modernization and translational issues (e.g., “Translation and
Modernization in Korea and Japan”, (JTS 8/2)).
It was not easy to clearly categorize history-related research based on Holmes’s map.
These papers had to be classified, depending on their focus, sometimes as either

product- or function-oriented TS, or time-restricted, area-restricted partial theories in
that they pertain to a particular period or a particular geographical region.

5.3 The definition of ‘general theory’ is unclear, which makes classifying work trickier.

Studies dealing with only the theoretical reflections have to be classified as a ‘general
theory’ in principle; however, it seemed almost impossible for a study to meet the
requirements of a general theory put forward by Holmes—“inclusive theory
accommodating so many elements that it can serve to explain and predict all
phenomena falling within the terrain of translating and translation” (Holmes, 1988, 73).
For example, papers that introduce the views of a particular (translation) theorist in
detail (e.g., “A Critical Review Contrasting Venuti’s ‘Ethics of Difference’ and
Foreignization with Berman’s Understanding of Foreignization,” (JTS 10/2)) can fall
within the area of a ‘general theory’. Yet, whether these theorists call their own theories
‘general’ remains uncertain. Strictly speaking, no theory has so far satisfied the
requirement of a general theory suggested by Holmes. Currently, the problem remains
as to how to classify these theoretical studies, which are clearly different in nature from
the partial theoretical TS but are still far from being a general theory. A new category is
needed for those studies adopting an entirely theoretical approach without purporting to
be universally or generally applicable.

5.4 It was difficult to classify the studies into particular translators or their translation

Chesterman (1998: 201) calls the shift of attention from product-oriented

‘translational studies’ to translator-oriented ‘translatorial studies’ as one of the major
events in this discipline. Given that this change is relatively a new trend, it is no wonder
that translators are invisible on Holmes’s 40-year-old map. The corpora analyzed in the
present study include papers examining such issues as translators of particular literary
works (e.g., “A Case Study of the English Translators of Japanese Contemporary
Novels-Translators of Yasunari Kawabata and Oe Kenzaburo,” (JTS, 9/4)); strategies
that translators actually employed (e.g., “A Research on Movie Translation Strategies,”

(JTS 7/2)); and translators and power (e.g., “ Translator in Power Relationships:
Multidisciplinary Analysis of English “of” into Korean,” (JTS 9/1)). These studies focus
more on translators than on translations. Consequently, they can be categorized as either
process-oriented DTS, if they deal with tracking and describing the entire process of
making translation decisions, or translator training, a branch of applied TS, if they go
beyond describing the translation strategies in order to discuss how to apply the results
to translator training. However, if the shift of focus from translations to translators is a
meaningful phenomenon as Chesterman says it is, isn’t it time we think of a new
category for research on translators?

5.5 It was difficult to classify the studies that attempted philosophical or metaphysical
reflections on translation.

What requires the greatest attention among what is missing from the Holmes map is
the method of categorizing research work that has gone beyond textual or linguistic
analysis and further, has taken philosophical or epistemological approaches to
These studies relate to, for example, ‘translation and ideology’ or ‘translation and
politics’. Even though only a few studies are categorized within this sub-group, they
should not be ignored because they clearly manifest the recent research trends. The
authors of these articles seemed to suggest that TS should move beyond a ‘description’
of translation phenomena, taking the same stance as scholars, such as Venuti (1995:
313), who advocates translation research as a ‘call to action’:

Research into translation can never be simply descriptive; merely to formulate

translation as a topic in cultural history or criticism assumes an opposition to its
marginal position in the current hierarchy of cultural practices. And the choice of a
topic from a specific historical period will always bear on present cultural concerns.

However, Hermans (1999: 156) defines a set of post-colonial approaches attempted

by some scholars, including Venuti, as ‘politically committed’, and warns of the danger
inherent in such approaches.

While Venuti’s position has the virtue of consistency, it stands or falls with the
righteousness of his cause and the moral high ground of his indignation. If we want to
create sufficient and sustainable room for self-reflexive criticism of that or any other
position, we cannot very well do it from a practising translator’s point of view.

Should TS be committed or stay aloof? The answer to this question is not easy. Yet,
Holmes’s views look similar to Hermans’s views, in that he never creates a separate
category for this kind of research. In Hermans’s remarks above, however, the word
‘self-reflexive’ calls attention to another trend that has been overlooked in the Holmes
map. Research pursuing introspective reflections on TS itself in Korea has definitely
existed within this discipline. Some metatheoretical or self-reflexive approaches exist,
to which the corpora analyzed for the present study is no exception. The topics include
the present state and future prospects of TS (e.g., “The Trends and Perspective of
Translation Studies in Korea (2000-2005),” (JTS 6/2)); epistemological approaches to
TS (e.g., “Epistemological and Linguistic Bases for Translation Studies,” (JTS 1/1));
and philosophical and metaphysical approaches to TS (e.g.,“Translation as
‘Transcreation’ or ‘Transcendentalation’,” (JTS 1/2)). Studies dealing with issues of
‘translation and globalization’ (e.g., “Translation, Micro-Modernity and the Global
City,” (JTS 10/4)) and ‘translation ethics’ were also observed. All of these studies did
not have their place on the Holmes map.

VI. Back to the beginning

This study has thus far categorized papers published in JTS over the last fourteen
years using the Holmes map and examined what subjects have been studied in the field
of Translation Studies in Korea. It also considered the possible limitations inherent in
the Holmes map. Thus, this section will return to the initial question posed at the
beginning of this study.
First, how can the landscape of TS in Korea be superimposed on the Holmes map?
Second, in what respects does the Holmes map prove to be outdated, and how can it

be revised?
With regard to the first question, readers need to be reminded once again that the
present study is a sort of preparatory work for drawing a more accurate map of TS in
Korea. Accordingly, it is too early to draw a ‘distribution map’ of Korean TS. What has
been found in the present study needs to be ascertained through another corpus that is
larger in scale.
However, a number of important points demand our attention. As examined earlier,
translation research describing particular translation problems, particular text types or
particular translation products take up a larger portion of Translation Studies in Korea
than those concerned with the translation process, translation function and translation
history. At least according to the data analyzed for the present study, a large number of
studies dealt with partial translation theories, which betrays the lack of a comprehensive
and macroscopic view in TS. However, perhaps, this ‘fractured’ research scene may
have inevitably resulted from the mass migration of scholars from adjacent fields;
therefore, this may not a phenomenon specific to Korea.
In order to properly understand the unique features of Korean TS, scholars must first
look into the research conducted in other countries and compare their results to Korean
TS. Another possibility is to conduct a more diachronic examination of TS in Korea in
order to compare the present and the past so that we can anticipate where Korean TS is
The second question deals with how to revise the Holmes map.
In a sense, the Holmes map is already under excellent refurbishing. One example is
the map that the Bibliography of Translation Studies (BTS), published by Saint Jerome,
uses in order to offer bibliographies of articles published within the field of TS. BTS,
certainly, is different from existing approaches because its purpose is more practical
than academic. However, translation history, which is missing from the Holmes map,
has been added to it, and seven sub-branches of interpretation studies (interpreting
studies, conference and simultaneous interpreting, community/dialogue/public service
interpreting, court and legal interpreting, sign language interpreting, history of
translation and interpreting, and translator and interpreter training) have been
distinguished. BTS seems to be a far more effective tool than the Holmes map for
understanding what is now being studied within the TS field.

Meanwhile, pondering upon the missing parts in Holmes map has led the study to
wonder why such issues as translation history, translation ethics, translators,
metatranslational reflections, ideology, power relations, and philosophical and
epistemological approaches were not addressed substantially in the map in the first
place. A good way to start answering this question is by looking at what they have in
common: they are too difficult to investigate if we use only empirical methods. Is it
possible to establish and verify a hypothesis on issues such as translator’s ethics or
translator’s ideology with an ultimate goal of eliciting a set of general principles?
Research on the history of translation can be performed by describing the translations of
particular times; however, more philosophical and non empirical methods can also be
used. Here, it is necessary to take a critical look at Holmes’s convictions that prop up
his map, that TS must be an empirical science, and that a universal translation theory
applicable to every translation phenomenon can possibly exist.
Holmes’ belief that TS must be an empirical science creates high expectations for the
birth of a general theory. Because Holmes believes that accumulated observations and
descriptions will eventually produce a comprehensive theory that can explain every
translation phenomenon, we may be able to define him as a ‘universalist’ in regard to
TS. The term ‘universalism’ here refers to the ideology that emphasizes ‘universal’
features underlying a variety of translational phenomena. We can note this universalist
view in Chesterman’s remarks as well (2000: 15).

TS is a multifaceted interdiscipline, drawing on different research traditions. Because

of this, and because of the very nature of translation as a complex human (and
machine) activity, we need broader and more differentiated concepts of explanation,
causality, and hypothesis-formation and testing than those prevailing in narrower fields.
This broadening may enable us to build a general empirical theory of translation
that is both rich and robust, one that can make the best use of all three of our initial
positions. And that will be real progress.(emphasis added by the author)

It seems obvious that for Holmes and Chesterman, the ultimate aim of TS is to
establish a set of general principles. Perhaps this is a logical conclusion for those who
emphasize such elements as empirical testability, objectivity and hypothesis verification.
On the other hand, voices opposing the idea of TS as an empirical science are far

from negligible. The tension between these two sides has been most visible in a series
of heated debates carried out twelve years ago via writing under the title ‘Shared
Ground in TS’ in the journal Target from 2000 to 2002. After Chesterman, one of the
most prominent advocates of TS as an empirical science, and Arrojo, who represents
post-modern and hermeneutic approaches to translation, published a paper they
coauthored (Chesterman & Arrojo, 2000), with the goal of finding a ‘shared ground’,
many scholars responded; however, discussion has failed to narrow the gap between the
two opposing views. Nonetheless, the publishing of their paper and the discussion that
followed were meaningful events in demonstrating that post-modern, cultural and
committed approaches to translation have found their way into TS and together have
formed an important axis of TS.
The present study has found that research into non-empirical, philosophical and
conceptual topics has been pursued in Korea as in other countries, although the number
of these studies may be insignificant. If we were to draw an accurate map of Korean
translation research, the map should be an all-inclusive one. In addition to such
elements as written translation, translation as a result or product, synchronic approaches
and empirical approaches upon which the Holmes map stresses, separate categories
need to be created for interpreting, translator-focused approaches, diachronic
approaches to translation history, and non-empirical and conceptual approaches. If we
admit the necessity to do so, we are faced with another question as to whether to update
the Holmes map or create an entirely new one. Before answering this question, more
work will have to be conducted on a larger corpus in order to identify how, by whom
and on what specific topics the studies, which are thought to fall within these new
categories, are being pursued. These remain as the future research subjects.


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LEE, Hyang Marina

Dr. Lee Hyang Marina received her M.A. and Ph. D from the Graduate School of Interpretation
and Translation (GSIT) at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. She has taught Korean-French
translation and interpretation at both the graduate and undergraduate level at the Hankuk
University of Foreign Studies for 15 years. She is currently a professor in the department of
French Studies at the same university. She has published articles mainly focusing on various
issues concerning research methodology, philosophical reflections on Translation Studies and
translation quality assessment.