Dealing with the Past: Definitions and Descriptions of the History of Translation


  • Pilar Ordóñez-López Universitat Jaume I



history of translation, translation theory, translation studies, reference works on translation


This study examines how the history of translation has been presented to a wide readership in reference works such as translation studies encyclopedias and handbooks, providing valuable insights into the evolution of the perspectives from which the definition and description of this area has been approached over time. Our study of reference works published over a period of fifteen years shows that attempts have been made to construct an epistemic and methodological framework (a prerequisite for systematic historical enquiry), to define the object(s) of study, and to provide a comprehensive account of the concept of translation throughout history. However, the multifaceted nature of the history of translation makes it difficult to provide clear-cut definitions and descriptions, which makes this a rather diffuse area of knowledge. Furthermore, despite recurrent calls for a more inclusive approach, the account of the past of translation continues to be predominantly canonical and Westernized.

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Author Biography

Pilar Ordóñez-López, Universitat Jaume I

Ph. D. in Translation, Universidad de Granada, Spain.
Senior Lecturer, Department of Translation and Communication, Universitat Jaume i, Spain.




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How to Cite

Ordóñez-López, P. (2020). Dealing with the Past: Definitions and Descriptions of the History of Translation. Íkala, Revista De Lenguaje Y Cultura, 25(3), 797–814.



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