Sidney Shapiro's Translatorial Agency: A Diachronic Perspective

Sidney Shapiro's Translatorial Agency: A Diachronic Perspective

Honghua Liu (Hunan University of Technology, Hunan, China)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTIAL.2019010105
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Translatorial agencies have gained wider currency in contemporary translation studies. Efforts have been made to delve into it from both translators' individual habits and the contextual elements of their work. But there is still relatively little work done on the variety of translatorial agencies exercised in different actual working conditions. Drawing on available studies and archival primary sources, this article tries to look into the development of translatorial agencies over time and space by uncovering the translator Sidney Shapiro's changeable textual, paratextual and extratextual agency in different translation networks in which he had been involved. The central argument of the article is that the extent to which translatorial agencies are influenced by other actors in the same network depends on whether the translator has the chance, ability, and willingness to negotiate with them.
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Translatorial Agency

Agency is “the ability and willingness to act” (Kinnunen and Koskinen 2010:6). Translatorial agency is therefore a translator’s willingness and ability to act. In light of Koskinen’s (2000:99) categorization of translators’ visibility, Paloposki (2009:191) classified agency into textual, paratextual and extratextual agency. For the convenience of discussion, this paper will adopt Paloposki’s division of agency and the overlap is unavoidable. Textual, paratextual and extratextual agency are defined in this paper on the basis of both Koskinen’s and Paloposki’s interpretations on them. Textual agency refers to the translator’s voice in the text such as deliberate manipulation, stylistic preferences or habits, etc., paratextual agency consists of the translator’s role in inserting and adding notes and prefaces, and extratextual agency of the selection of books to be translated, the use of different editions and intermediary translations, and the role of translators in ‘speaking out’, publicizing their translations, explaining their approaches and strategies, and the like. As can be seen, textual and paratextual agency could be revealed through comparative textual analysis, and extratextual agency could be uncovered by analysing some essays and memoirs. Since agency is not a static but a fluid entity, it is located in time and in space (Giddens 1979: 54), we study Shapiro’s development of agency in different periods and working places, in Latour’s(1996) words, different translation networks.

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