Why is Philosophy Good for Translation Studies?

An investigation of the Theoretical Assumptions Underlying Translation Studies


  • Mostafa Amiri 📧 Ph.D. in Translation Studies, Faculty Member of the English Language Department, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Islamic Azad University, Varamin-Pishva Branch, Tehran, Iran


As a research-based field, Translation Studies inevitably carries assumptions that are determined by its ontological, epistemological, and methodological positions towards the object of research, and thus shape its fundamental beliefs about the nature of translation and its methods of study. This article aims to identify these underlying assumptions in Translation Studies within the two dominant nodal discourses of “equivalence” and “norms” and emphasize the significance of a shift in the field’s ontological, epistemological, and methodological perspectives, which led to a greater focus on cultural aspects. After briefly exploring the ontological and epistemological positions, this article delves into the key concepts within equivalence-dominated discourse and norm-dominated discourse in Translation Studies, specifically examining meaning, text, and translation, to uncover the fundamental theoretical assumptions associated with these discourses.


Amiri, M., & Farahzad, F. (2021). The turns of translation studies from a CDA approach: The Polysystem theory as a nodal discourse in translation studies. Translation Studies, Summer, 19(74), pp. 25–40. Doi: 20.1001.1.17350212.1400.

Bassnett, S., & Lefevere, A. (Eds.). (1990). Translation, history and culture. Pinter Publishers.

Chesterman, A. (2006). Questions in the sociology of translation. In J. F. Duarte, A. A. Rosa and T. Seruya (Eds.), Translation studies at the interface of disciplines (pp. 9–27). John Benjamins.

Chesterman, A. (2018). Translation ethics. In L. D’hulst and Y. Gambier (Eds.), A history of modern translation knowledge: Sources, concepts, effects (443–448). John Benjamins.

Crotty, M. (2003). The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process (3rd ed.). Sage Publications.

Farahzad, F. (2008). Translation as an intertextual practice. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology. 16(3), 125–131. https://doi.org/10.1080/09076760802547462

Farahzad, F. (2021, May 20). Beyond cultural turn in translation studies [Paper Presentation]. Thirteenth annual conference on translation, Jahrom, Iran. http://vc.jahromu.ac.ir/fahangi1

Gentzler, E. (2001). Contemporary translation theories (2nd ed.). Multilingual Matters.

Hermans, T. (1996). Norms and the determination of translation: a theoretical framework. In R. Alvarez and M. Vidal (Eds.), Translation, power, subversion (pp. 25–51). Multilingual Matters.

Hu, B. (2020). How are translation norms negotiated? A case study of risk management in Chinese institutional translation. Target, 32(1), 83–122. http://doi: 10.1075/target.19050.hu

Jupp, V. (2006). The Sage dictionary of social research methods. Sage Publications.

Kara, H. (2015). Creative research methods in the social sciences: a practical guide. Policy Press.

Karamitroglou, F. (2000). Towards a methodology of the investigation of norms in audiovisual translation: The choice between subtitling and revoicing in Greece. Rodopi.

Lambert, J. (1995). Translation, systems and research: The contribution of polysystem studies to translation studies. TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction, 8(1), 105–152.

Locke, T. (2004). Critical discourse analysis. Continuum.

Moon, K., & Blackman, D. (2014). A guide to understanding social sciences research for natural scientists. Conservation Biology, 0(0) 1–11. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12326

Moon, K., & Blackman, D. (2017). “A guide to ontology, epistemology, and philosophical perspectives for interdisciplinary researchers”: Integration and Implementation Insights. https://i2insights.org/2017/05/02/philosophy-for-interdisciplinarity.

Niranjana, T. (1992). Siting translation history, post-structuralism, and the colonial context. University of California Press.

Nord, C. (1991). Scopos, loyalty, and translational conventions. Target, 3(1), 91–109.

Patel, S. (2015, July 15). “The research paradigm – methodology, epistemology and ontology – explained in simple language”: Dr. Salma Patel. https://salmapatel.co.uk /academia /the-research-paradigm-methodology-epistemology-and-ontology-explained-in-simple-language.

Richards, K. (2003). Qualitative inquiry in TESOL. Palgrave Macmillan.

Sakellariou, P. (2014). The appropriation of the concept of intertextuality for translation-theoretic purposes. Translation Studies, 8(1), 1–13. doi: 10.1080/14781700.2014.943677

Sakellariou, P. (2020). Intertextuality. In M. Baker and G. Saldanha (Eds.). Routledge encyclopedia of translation studies (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, Ph., & Thornhill, A. (2019). Research methods for business students (8th Ed.). Pearson.

Schäffner, C. (2010). Norms of translation. In Y. Gambier and L. V. Doorslaer (Eds.), Handbook of translation studies (Vol. 1, pp. 235–244). John Benjamins.

Snape, D., & Spencer, L. (2003). The foundations of qualitative research. In J. Richie & J. Lewis (Eds.), Qualitative research practice (pp. 1–23). Sage Publications.

Snell-Hornby, M. (2006). The turns of translation studies: New paradigms or shifting viewpoints? John Benjamins.

Tymoczko, M. (2007). Enlarging translation, empowering translators. Routledge.

Venuti, L. (2008). The translator’s invisibility: A history of translation (2nd ed.). Routledge.



2024-05-11 — Updated on 2024-05-11


How to Cite

Amiri, M. (2024). Why is Philosophy Good for Translation Studies? An investigation of the Theoretical Assumptions Underlying Translation Studies. Iranian Journal of Translation Studies, 22(85). Retrieved from https://journal.translationstudies.ir/ts/article/view/1155