Conferences and Other Events

Second Conference of the Israeli Society for Translation Studies

Program in Hebrew and English

About the Second Conference of the Israeli Society for Translation Studies


Revisiting ‘Assumed Translation’ in the Light of the Japanese Practice of Kanbun Kundoku

Judy Wakabayashi, Kent University

Gideon Toury upended much of the existing prescriptive thinking about what constitutes a translation by proposing the descriptive notion of assumed translation, posited in terms of texts that are presented/regarded as translations within the target society. This has had the positive effect of opening up the concept of ‘translation’ to less prototypical practices, such as pseudotranslation.

Taking into account earlier theoretical discussions of assumed translation, this paper examines the application of this notion to the specific practice of kanbun kundoku (literally, Japanese readings of Chinese texts), a culturally contextualized practice based on how the Japanese adopted and adapted Chinese characters for use with their very different language. For many centuries this was virtually the only means used by educated Japanese to access the meaning of Chinese texts, thereby sidestepping ‘conventional’ translation (which goes under the different label of hon’yaku). The existence of different identifying labels for these practices is tied up with how kanbun kundoku is not widely presented or regarded as translation in Japan. Nevertheless, this practice overlaps with—yet also challenges—commonplace notions of translation in several respects, leading to a lack of a consensus in Japan as to the status of this practice vis-à-vis hon’yaku. This problematizes any assumption of a collective agreement within the target society as to what does or does not constitute translation. This borderline case provides a reference point that can help throw further light on the cluster concept (Tymoczko 2004) of ‘translation’.


Gertrude Stein: A Life in Translation

Judith Woodsworth, Concordia University

In his 1947 memoir, Paris Was Our Mistress, Samuel Putnam called Paris the ‘literary capital of the United States’ and used the term ‘exile’ to refer to the many American writers, artists and thinkers who flocked there. The so-called ‘lost generation’, he pointed out, lived abroad not out of necessity – not driven by hardship, persecution, or war – but deliberately and willingly.

Gertrude Stein was among the first of the Americans of the twentieth century to live in voluntary exile in Paris to establish herself as a writer and enjoy the freedom that life afforded her there. She famously said: ‘America is my country and Paris is my hometown’, revealing her hybrid identity and her long-standing ambivalence with regard to French language and culture.

Unlike many of the expatriate writers who frequented the avant-garde Left Bank – think of Joyce, Pound, and later Beckett, all polyglots and cosmopolitans – Gertrude Stein resisted speaking, reading and writing French. She was not a prolific translator, nor was she interested in translating her own work into French. Yet, translation, inevitably, was critical to her life and life work in exile. She did, in fact, translate, and she was amply translated and published in France, at a time when her work was less enthusiastically received by American publishers. And, in the metaphorical sense of the word, made popular by Salman Rushdie, she was a ‘translated woman’.

This presentation will provide an overview of Stein’s translation projects: her alleged translation of Flaubert, her ill-fated translation of surrealist poet Georges Hugnet, and her aborted translation of the speeches of Maréchal Pétain. Each instance of translation is instructive in that a certain degree of resistance, even ‘non-translation’, is involved and the relationship with the original author or text is problematic.

As a younger woman, she eagerly settled in Paris, but, much later, under the German occupation, her identity as a Jewish American lesbian put her and her partner Alice Toklas in a precarious position. They took refuge in the French countryside, where they remained until the War was over. They did not return to the U.S. because they did not want to live there as ‘refugees’. Instead, they stayed on in France in a state of exile, in the truer sense of the word, as war was waged around them, and Jews were deported to death camps.

It is in this context that Stein undertook her only ‘real’ translation. We will discuss the appearance of her manuscript translation of the Pétain texts, as well as the paratextual material she wrote to accompany it. Although we can only speculate about her true motives, we will attempt to bring to the fore some of factors that might have given rise to this project, including the role and agency of convicted collaborator Bernard Faÿ – her friend, French translator, and promoter.



Leonard Cohen in French culture: a song of love and hate

Francis Mus, University of Leuven

As early as in 1974 the first monograph on Leonard Cohen was released in France. The author Jacques Vassal (journalist, writer and one of the most important translators of Cohen’s literary oeuvre in France) states that ‘for a foreign author-composer, the songs of Leonard Cohen have known quite an exceptional success in France” (Leonard Cohen, 1974, Editions Albin Michel, p. 140). Since that time and until his recent comeback in 2008, Cohen’s popularity (in France and elsewhere) has only increased. However, an important question is if Cohen could have acquired the same position in the French literary (and artistic) polysystem in the same way under other circumstances.

In 1979, Irving Layton (Cohen’s master and one of the most important poets from Montreal) stated: ‘In fact, the whole world has become Jewish. Today, everybody is caught up with the Jew!’ (in Harry Rasky, The Song of Leonard Cohen, 2001, Mosaic Press, p. 38). This observation has become more relevant ever since. It seems that the Jewish way of life (alienation, diaspora, exile) that Cohen indeed often evokes in his work has become common property in today’s social discourse. Does this evolution make his work today ever more relevant and more accessible to an international audience?

Moreover, it has always been very difficult to lump together the man and his works: his oeuvre consists of both literature (novels and poetry) and music; it is both regional as international; his style is both vulgar and elevated, etc. In my lecture, I will therefore also examine the presentation and self-representation (the ethos) of Leonard Cohen, in which these aspects are combined in different ways.

I will concentrate on the French reception of his works. This cultural transfer expresses itself in translations and adaptations of the poetic and musical oeuvre, but also in the subtitling of some of his recent concerts in France.

Francis Mus (1983) is a research assistant at the University of Leuven, Belgium. He wrote a PhD on the internationalization of the Belgian avant-garde. His interests concern writing in multilingual spaces. He wrote several articles on this topic, amongst others on Leonard Cohen and Milan Kundera. In 2015, he published his book (in Dutch) De demonen van Leonard Cohen.

Selected publications

Mus, F. (2016) « ‘There’s nothing to follow, there’s nowhere to go.’ Errance et arrêt dans l’œuvre de Leonard Cohen ». in C. Ringuet (ed.) Leonard Cohen, baladin juif de notre époque. Montreal : Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Mus, F. (2015). De demonen van Leonard Cohen. Tielt : Lannoo.

Mus, F. (2015). Les langues de Leonard Cohen. TTR (Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction). Numéro spécial : « Traduction et multilinguisme » / « Translation and multilingualism »

Mus, F. (2013) (paper by invitation from the journal). Patrie européenne ou Europe des  Patries ? La construction d’un nouvel espace littéraire européen dans l’immédiat après-guerre (1918-1925). Orbis Litterarum : International review of literary studies. Vol. 68, 2. 89-109.

Mus, F. Vandevoorde, H. (2012). ‘Streetscape of new districts permeated by the fresh scent of cement’. Avant-garde and internationalism in Brussels. In : Brooker, P., Ed., Thacker, A., Ed., Bru, S., Ed. The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, Vol. 3. Europe 1880-1940. Oxford : Oxford University Press. 336-360.

Mus, F. Vandemeulebroucke, K. (Eds). (2011). La traduction dans les cultures plurilingues. Arras : Artois Presses Université.



Translation in the Tech World – A Conceptual Blend of Mental Spaces?

Galia Hirsch, Bar-Ilan University

Reading a translated text poses a greater challenge compared to the interpretation of an untranslated one, because it represents both the world of the text and the cognitive state embodied in it (Boase-Beier, 2011: 74). One way to explain this difference is to see a translated text as a conceptual blend: two or more mental spaces combined in a creative mental process (Fauconnier, 1994).

The target text is considered a conceptual blend, because, in both the translator’s and the reader’s minds, it is represented as the source book itself: an imagined book which is one of the mental spaces forming the blend. Just as a blend has elements that were not present in each of the inputs, a translation presents new elements that do not exist in the source book or in an original work. The fact that a translation is a blend has many consequences, such as clashes at some levels, its multicultural background and hybrid linguistics. Blending also explains the existence of ‘false friends’ (Boase-Beier, 2011: 74-80).

According to Boase-Beier (2011), a more complex conceptual blend is typical of the translation of literary works, because they represent both the source and the translator’s attitudes. In his view, non-literary translations are not blends in this sense, since they bear no necessary relationship to the source text (pp. 78-80).

The following presentation will explore the possibility that non-literary translations may be also treated as conceptual blends, demonstrating through Hebrew translation of technology related materials, such as iPhone User Guide and social media platforms like Facebook.


Boase-Beier, Jean. 2011. A Critical Introduction to Translation Studies. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Fauconnier, Gilles. 1994. Mental Spaces. New York: Cambridge University Press.

סוברן, תמר. תשס"ו. שפה ומשמעות: סיפור הולדתה ופריחתה של תורת המשמעים. חיפה: הוצאת הספרים של אוניברסיטת חיפה.




Between homeland and exile: Language ideology and the politics of internal Jewish translation

Omri Asscher, Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Haifa

In this talk, I will discuss the ways in which translation has featured – both as metaphor and in practice – in the Israeli literary and intellectual discourse on Diasporic Jewish culture. The perception of translation in these instances, I believe, is best understood against the socio-political background of the “subterranean struggle” (in Amos Oz’s formulation) between the two major Jewish centers of the 2nd half of the 20th century, in Israel and the United States. As I will try to show, Israeli thought has generally conceived of American Jewish culture as “Judaism in translation”, that is, inherently “partial” and even “unauthentic”. This conception drew from, or made use of, an ideology of language which attributed intrinsic Jewish value to the Hebrew language, entailing a clear cut hierarchy between Jewish cultures. Thus, translation of Diasporic literary works into Hebrew was thought of as a way to preserve these works from being lost or as a way of “bringing them back home”. Moreover, literary translation from Hebrew into tongues spoken by Jews in the Diaspora was understood as a way to breathe new life into a withering Diasporic Jewish culture. By describing an Israeli tradition of thought about translation in the context of the loaded relationship between the two dominant Jewish communities, I hope to shed some light both on this relationship specifically, and on the general ways in which translation can be rhetorically utilized for ideological purposes.

Selected bibliography:

Bellow, Saul 1963. “Introduction”, Great Jewish Short Stories, pp. 1-16.

Bellow, Saul 2014. “I Said that I was an American, a Jew, a Writer by Trade”, American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader, p. 380.

Cohen, Yisrael 1962. “Yafyuto shel Shem be-ohaley Yefet,” Sha’ar ha-havchanot, pp. 132-141.

Oz, Amos 1993. “Imagining the Other,” The Writer in the Jewish Community: An Israeli-North American Dialogue, pp. 115-123.

Shaked, Gershon 1993. "Judaism in Translation: Thoughts on the Alexandria Hypothesis," Hebrew in America: Perspectives and Prospects, pp. 277-295.


Translation of Script Specificity Items: Humorous positioning and translation universals

Talli Cedar, Bar-Ilan University

Shifts in amount and specificity of details in source texts as compared to target texts have been discussed in the context of such translation universals as standardization (Toury, 1995; Pym, 2008), implicitation (Klaudy & Károly, 2003 in Pym, 2005) and simplification (Blum-Kulka & Levenston, 1983). In my presentation I will argue that (1) they are manifest in the translation of humoristic occurrences, and more specifically, in items of Script Specificity; (2) they have bearing on the humoristic affect as well as on the power and solidarity in conversationalists' relationships. The discussion draws on the study of conversations in Fielding's Bridget Jones books and their translations into Hebrew (Fielding, 1996, 1999a, 1999b, 2002) as part of an ongoing PhD research.

Script Specificity (ScSp), a concept I recently proposed (Cedar, 2016), is a humor enhancing tool, emphasizing the humoristic effect created by script opposition. According to the Script-based Semantic Theory of Humor (SSTH) (Raskin, 1985), one of the most prominent humor theories, a script is the semantic information a given utterance evokes in the addressee's mind. In the first phase the addressee's mind will create certain expectations that will be violated upon introducing the second script.

ScSp is created when the second script is enhanced and made more accessible through the use of strong visualization (Raskin, 1985), novelty and surprise (Oring, 1989), (relatively) brief linguistic sign, specificity and concreteness, and immediate mental contact (Antonopoulou, 2004).

The analysis presented here focuses on phenomena related to ScSp: its effects on power and solidarity (Brown & Gilman, 1960) in speakers' relationships in ST, as well as the tendency the effects of translation strategies over humor and patterns of power and solidarity in the TT.


Primary sources
Fielding, H. (1996). Bridget Jones's Diary. London: Picador.
Fielding, Helen (1999a). Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. New-York: Penguin Books.
Fielding, H. (1999b) Yomana shel Bridget Jones. Zmora-Bitan publishers. From English: Dana Elazar (in Hebrew).
Fielding, H. (2002) Bridget Jones: Uvdot Ha-Chaim. Zmora-Bitan publishers. From English: Marina Groslerner (in Hebrew).

Secondary sources

Antonopoulou, E. (2004). "Humor theory and translation research: Proper names in humorous discourse". Humor 17:3, pp. 219–255.
Oring, E. (1989). Between jokes and tales: on the nature of punch lines. Humor, 2(4), 349-364.
Blum-Kulka, S. & E. A. Levenston (1983). "Universals of lexical simplification". In: Strategies in Interlanguage Communication, C. Færch & G. Kasper (eds.). Longman: London/New-York, pp. 119-140.
Brown, R. & A. Gilman (1960). "The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity". In: Style in Language, T. A. Sebeok (ed.). Cambridge: MIT press, pp. 253-276.
Cedar, T. (2016). "Script Specificity: presentation of the concept and examination of the effects of translation – Bridget Jones's Hebrew translation as a case study". The 9th Oranim Conference "Ha-Ivrit Safa Chaya". Oranim Academic College: Oranim, February 29th (In Hebrew).
Klaudy, K. & K. Károly (2003). “Implicitation in translation: An empirical justification of operational asymmetry in translation”. Paper presented to the 10th International Conference on Translation and Interpreting, Translation Targets, Sep. 11th-13th, 2003.
Pym, A. (2005). "Explaining Explicitation". In: New Trends in Translation Studies. In Honour of Kinga Klaudy. K. Karoly. & Á. Fóris, (eds.) Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó. Pp. 29-34.
Pym, A. (2008), "On Toury's laws of how translators translate." In: Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies: Investigations in homage to Gideon Toury. A. Pym, M. Shlesinger, & D. Simeoni (eds.). Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 311-328.
Raskin, V. (1985). Semantic Mechanisms of Humor. Dordrecht: Reidel.
Toury, Gideon. (1995). Descriptive Translation Studies – and beyond. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Voids revisited

Elda Weizman, Bar-Ilan University

Voids have been discussed in the framework of translation theory mostly in terms of their causes and possible solutions. At the risk of generalization, it is safe to say that notwithstanding terminological variation, different studies have shared a basic distinction between voids motivated either by extra-linguistic reality (e.g. environmental, cultural) or by  language-specific linguistic mappings (lexical or grammatical) (e.g. Rabin, 1958; Dagut, 1981; Ivir, 1987; Cloete and Wenzel, 2007). In my previous work, I postulated an alternative explanation, which presupposes tight connections between linguistic structures (be they morphological, lexical or syntactic) and culture-dependent perception of reality.  Accordingly, following de Sassure (1916) and his interpretation by Ogden and Richards (1923), I suggested a methodological distinction between three types of voids: referent-focused, symbol-focused and concept-focused, albeit acknowledging the unbreakable interrelations between them (Weizman, 2010).  In addition, I suggested adding the category of pragmatic voids, defined as the culture-dependent use of a given discursive pattern for a given purpose in one of the two languages involved in the translation (ibid.) This definition adds a pragmatic dimension to the discussion, since it presupposes a syntagmatic rather than paradigmatic approach (discourse patterns are studied in their co-text), and the examination of elaborate discourse patterns in use.

This presentation aims to further elaborate on the notions of concept-focused and pragmatic voids, based on findings from cross-cultural pragmatics, for example politeness theory.  By so doing, I will propose a tentative sketch of the interface between two neighboring disciplines – translation studies and pragmatics.


Cloete, W. and M. Wenzel, 2007. Translating culture: Matthee’s Kringe in ‘n bos as a case in point. Literator 28(3), 1-26.

Dagut, M. 1981. Semantic ‘voids’ as a problem in the translation process. Poetics Today 2:4, 61-71.

 Ivir, V. 1987. Procedures and strategies for the translation of culture”. In: Toury, G. (ed.), Translation Across Cultures. New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 35-46.

Ogden, C.K. and I.A. Richards, The meaning of meaning: A study of the influence of language upon thought and the science of symbolism. London, Boston & Henley: ARK paperbacks.

Rabin, C. 1958. The linguistics of translation. In: Smith, H.M. (ed.). Aspects of Translation. London: Secker and Warburg. 123-145.

de Saussue, F. Cours de Linguistique Générale. Paris : Payot.

Weizman, E. 2010. Another look at voids: An issue in translation studies and its implications for the study of the Hebrew language. In: Ben Shachar, R., G. Toury and N. Ben-Ari (eds.), Ha’ivrit Safa Xaya (Hebrew: A Living Language) 5,  Tel-Aviv:  Hakibbuts Hameuchad and the Porter Institute, Tel-Aviv University, 201-217. (in Hebrew)


What can be the Relation between Translation Proper and Cultural Translation?

Hilla Karas, Bar-Ilan University

The notion of cultural translation, as introduced by Bhabha (1994), puts an emphasis on the “borderline negotiations of cultural translation” (ibid: 223) as well as on their results, the “ambivalent process of splitting and hybridity that marks the identification with culture’s difference” (ibid: 224).It has often been applied in contexts of postcolonialism and/or migration.

As a concept focusing on values, images and symbols rather than on texts and languages, it has not always been clear if cultural translation has anything to do with translation studies: Cheyfitz describes it as a metaphor for the violent literary encounter between colonized and colonizer, striving to domesticate the alien (Cheyfitz 1991; Robinson 1993); meanwhile, Trivedi has repeatedly pointed out that the “condition of human migrancy” should not be directly applied to verbal matter (Trivedi 2005).

This paper examines two cases where translation or interpretation “proper” intersect with cultural translation, and attempts to describe possible relations between them. Both cases are literary representations of Indians and Indian immigrants to the United States, first and second generation. One is Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Queen of Dreams (2004), exploring the connection between young Rakhi, artist and coffee shop owner, and her mother the dream teller. The second example is Amitav Ghosh’s Hungry Tide (2004), about an American scientist of Indian origin, Piya, who comes to the Sundarban area in Bengal to investigate a rare species of river dolphin. Accompanying her is Kanai Dutt, a Delhi businessman and interpreter.

These works of the two Bengali writers present ‘real’ and imagined translations, as well as other dealings with linguistic diversities and their psychological and social significations. Based on a close examination of these instances, we would like to suggest that cultural translation may well be achieved, among other ways, through the practice of- and reflection about- translation and interpretation, both by immigrants, people who visit their (parents’) “homeland”, and those who stayed there but still live a somewhat transnational life.


Banerjee Divakaruni, Chitra 2004. Queen of Dreams, New York: Random House.

Bhabha, Homi K. 1994. The Location of Culture, London: Routledge.

Cheyfitz, Eric 1991. The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from ‘The Tempest’ to ‘Tarzan’, New York: Oxford University Press.

Ghosh, Amitav 2004. The Hungry Tide, London: Harper Collins.

Robinson, Douglas 1993. “Decolonizing Translation”, Translation and Literature 2, pp. 113-124.

Trivedi, Harish 2005. “Translating Culture vs. Cultural Translation”, 91st Meridian 4(1), retrieved from