A Meta-analytical Critique of Antoine Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis


  • Mir Saeed Mousavi Razavi Allameh Tabataba’i University
  • Sajjad Tahmasbi Boveiri Allameh Tabataba’i University


Antoine Berman, Meta-analysis, Retranslation, Retranslation Hypothesis


The present article addresses the validity of Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis (which posits that literary retranslations are closer to the original than first translations) through a systematic, meta-analytical investigation of the empirical studies conducted to the present day on this topic. To this end, a representative sample of the empirical studies regarding RH over the past three decades was collected. The list contained fourteen studies carried out in different settings and between different language-pairs. The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that empirical data has failed to confirm RH as roughly 60% of the studies have refuted it while the remaining 40% have lent support to it. Furthermore, the results illustrated that all the studies conducted shared one finding: apart from ‘ageing’ of the translations, there are more important motivations giving rise to retranslation including source and target literary norms, translational norms, ideology, socio-political relations, translators’ attitude and experience, and so forth. The meta-analysis conducted also revealed that Berman has apparently overlooked the influence of two important factors in the formation of retranslations: text type, and the potentials of multiple (re)interpretations of texts. In light of the data, his claim that retranslations occur because first translations are ‘incomplete’ also faces serious challenges.

Author Biographies

Mir Saeed Mousavi Razavi, Allameh Tabataba’i University

Assistant Professor of English Translation Studies, Department of English Translation Studies, Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Language, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran;

Sajjad Tahmasbi Boveiri, Allameh Tabataba’i University

M.A. Graduate in English Translation Studies, English Department, School of Graduate Studies, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran;


Bensimon, P. (1990). Presentation. Palimpsestes, XIII(4), ix–xiii.
Berman, A. (1990). La retraduction comme espace de la traduction. Palimpsestes, XIII(4), 1–7.
Brisset, A. (2004). Retraduire ou le corps changeant de la connaissance sur L' historicite de la traduction. Palimpsestes, 15, 39–67.
Brownlie, S. (2006). Narrative Theory and Retranslation Theory. Across Languages and Cultures, 7(2), 145–170.
Cadera, S. M. (2017). Literary Retranslation in Context: A Historical, Social and Cultural Perspective. In S. M. Cadera & A. S. Walsh (Eds.), Literary Retranslation in Context (pp. 5–18). New York: Oxford.
Caira Sogl, L. A. (2015). Applying the Retranslation Hypothesis to the retranslations of Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector: University of Portsmouth.
Darvishi, A. (2013). Norms Governing Translation and Retranslation of Children's Literature (Unpublished master's thesis). Iran: Tehran: Allameh Tabataba'i University.
Deane-Cox, S. L. (2011). Confronting the Retranslation Hypothesis: Flaubert and Sand in the British Literary System (Doctoral dissertation). UK: University of Edinburgh.
Desmidt, I. (2009). (Re)translation Revisited. Meta, 54(4), 669–683.
Du-Nour, M. (1995). Retranslations of children's Books as Evidence of changes of Norms. Target, Target, 327–346.
Feng, L. (2015). Retranslation hypotheses revisited: A case study of two English translations of Sanguo Yanyi-the first chinese novel. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 43, 69–86.
Gurcaglar, S. T. (2009). Retranslation. In M. Baker & G. Saldanha (Eds.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (pp. 232–235). New York: Routledge.
Koskinen, K., & Paloposki, O. (2010). Retranslation. In Y. Gambier & L. V. Doorslaer (Eds.), Hand book of Translation Studies (pp. 294–298). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Kujamäki, P. (2001). Finnish Comet in German Skies: Translation, retranslation and norms. Target, 13(1), 43–71.
Mohammadi, A. (2012). Revisiting Retranslation Hypothesis: a Comparative Analysis of Stylistic Features in the Persian Retranslation of Pride and Prejudice (Unpublished Master's thesis). Iran: Esfehan: Sheikhbahaiee University.
Munday, J. (2016). Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. London and New York: Routledge.
Nouri-Jouybari, S. (2011). Retranslation of English Literary Text into Persian as a Norm-Governed Activity (Unpublished master's thesis). Iran: Tehran: Allameh Tabataba'i University.
Paloposki, O., & Koskinen, K. (2001). A thousand and one translations: Revisiting retranslation. In G. Hansen, K. Malmkjar, & G. Daniel (Eds.), Claims, Changes and Challenges in Translation Studies (pp. 27–38). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin.
Robinson, D. (1999). Retranslation and ideosomatic drift. Retrieved 2016, fromwww.umass.edu/french/people/profiles/documents/Robinson.pdf
Susam-Sarajeva, S. (2003). Multiple-entry visa to travelling theory: Retranslations of literary and cultural theories. Target, 15(1), 1–36.
Tahmasbi Boveiri, S. (2017). Self-Retranslation: A Case Study of Saleh Hosseini's Works (Unpublished Master's Thesis). Iran: Tehran: Allameh Tabataba'i University.



How to Cite

Mousavi Razavi, M. S., & Tahmasbi Boveiri, S. (2019). A Meta-analytical Critique of Antoine Berman’s Retranslation Hypothesis. Translation Studies Quarterly, 17(65), 21-36. Retrieved from https://journal.translationstudies.ir/ts/article/view/700



Scientific Articles