Translating Translation: Deconstructionist Approach towards Translation | April 2016 | Translation Journal

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Translating Translation: Deconstructionist Approach towards Translation


This paper sets out to unfold the tale of two contradictory translation theories, that is, the tale of pre-deconstructionist translation theory and the tale of Derridian deconstructionist translation theory. The former is the account of semiotic transfer theory, subscribing to Platonic metaphysics of presence and Aristotelian non-contradiction logic, laying the foundation of contemporary Western translation theories and the latter is the revolutionary narrative that deconstructs the very foundation upon which the former tale has been constructed, by eliminating the transcendental signified, the core of metaphysical presence, as the center of meaning and supplanting it withdifférance, Derrida's neologism referring to the systematic play of signifiers. The whole paper attempts to depict the grappling and wrestling of these two paradigms with each other and the impact this has on changing the translation studies' landscape. With that aim, this paper divides the course of its study into five different sections, and in each one it tries to equip the reader with a clear view of how deconstructionist Western translation thought about translation by provoking revising and rethinking of the core tenets of pre-deconstructionist translation studies.

Key Words: Translation, Meaning, Pre-deconstruction, Deconstruction, difference


Digging deep beneath Western contemporary translation theories, we reached translation studies' infrastructure, building on Plato's metaphysical presence and Aristotle's non-contradiction logic. According to these two philosophies, which have served as a solid ground for translation studies until now, meaning is before and beyond language, that is, it has an ontological status independent of any language system and therefore can be unproblematically transferred from one language system to another. These ideas, held by pre-deconstructionist translation scholars, are brought to task by Derrida's school of deconstruction. In Derrida's words, meaning does not precede language, rather, it evolves through having a differential relationship with countless numbers of textual and contextual factors. The impact on this paradigm shift for translation studies is to set free the traditional Western thought about translation from the mechanical, naïve idea of meaning transfer, and to view translation as a dynamic transformative process, which requires the translator's decision making in the strongest sense.

1. Deconstruction and Translation Studies

Etymologically and historically, the word translation, which, by the way, has its roots in Latin for two words: trans meaning ''across'' and ferre meaning ''to bear", together meaning ''to carry across'' or ''bear across'', is embroidered on the conceit that translation is the transfer of meaning or truth across language borders. In as much as recourse to the etymological roots of a word is the conventional way to grasp the meaning of a word, not all etymologies reveal the essential truth about the actual meaning of a word. This argument actually holds good for the term translation, too. In similar vein, Theo Hermans (1999) maintains, ''if the etymology of the word 'translation' has suggested, say, the image of responding to an existing utterance instead of transference, the whole idea of a transfer postulate would probably never have arisen'' (1999:52 as cited in Davis, 2001:18). And that is because the term translation is wrapped up in a blanket of ambiguities and confusion that this paper deems it apt to gauge and establish the relationship of the concept of transference, which boils down to the metaphorical usage of translation, to the actual truth about the term. In doing so, let us first make it clear that the majority of contemporary discourse about the phenomenon of translation and generally the whole of mainstream Western tradition thought about translation undergirds itself by extrapolating from the etymological meaning of the term translation, which in itself pledges allegiance to Platonic metaphysics of presence. The conventional view of translation puts meaning before and beyond language and considers language merely as a vehicle serving to transmit meaning and sense. Armed with unparalleled confidence in the ontological status of meaning independent of language, translation scholars generate many formula-like proclamations to the effect that translation is ''the transport of a semantic content from one into another signifying form'' (Davis, 2001:39). Premised on this notion, they decree that all a translator, as an ideal reader, should do, is delve beneath the textual layers to uncover the sense of the text which has been cloaked, and then transfer it without any essential harm being done to it. The proponents of this view of translation further explain the relationship of the source text to the target text in terms of the concept of the equivalence, and reduce the aim of the translation to producing a target text that is equivalent to the original text, that is, the source text and the target text have a one-to-one relationship with each other. This theory of meaning transfer and its purported mainspring, equivalence, has been considered as leaven in the loaf of traditional Western translation thought about translation until the twentieth century. However, such a basic assumption concerning translation and the philosophical, metaphysical conceptualization of meaning ''as a presence that can exist outside or before language, and that can be transferred unchanged between languages'' (Baker, 2013:74) soon encountered a pall of substantial doubt against their legitimacy and validity by principles espoused by what has been dubbed "deconstruction". Deconstruction inaugurates its school of thought by deconstructing the main bases, which have for centuries long, constructed the core of traditional Western translation thought about translation, such as signification, meaning, intention, purpose, and relevance, each of which will be explained latter in section 3 . Derrida, the founding father of deconstruction, has engineered his school of thought by first coroneting the Saussurean concept of difference. In Saussure's words, ''in language there are only differences without positive terms'' (Davis, 2001:15), which is to say meaning is not before or beyond language, rather, language creates meaning through a spatio-temporal play of difference, that is,

The sign is usually understood to be put in the place of the thing itself. However, if language has only differences without positive terms, then the sign marks the place not of some positive spatial presence, but of a differential relation to other signs in the language system. Moreover, the gesture of signification cannot refer directly to the present: it must rely upon already constituted relations even as it moves to instate a not-yet fulfilled meaning. The sign, in this sense, is deferred [spatio-temporal] presence (Derrida 1972c/1982:10-11; cited in Davis, 2001:13, italics in the original).

To explain the spatio-temporal differential mechanism through which language makes meaning, deconstructionists have allied themselves with the twofold concepts of différance and trace. Différance, which is Derrida's modified form of the French verb difference, accommodates both the sense of to differ and to defer; the former refers to the spatial sense and the latter is related to the temporal sense. Explaining how meaning evolves through language, Derrida also resorts to the term trace. According to Derrida,

In the interpretation of meaning, any signifying element that seems 'present' (both in the spatial and the temporal sense) is related to something other than itself, thereby keeping within itself the mark of past element, and already letting itself be vitiated by the mark of its relation to the future element. These relations to past and future are often called retentive and protentive characteristics, and the trace is where the retentive/protentive relationship with the other is marked (Derrida, 1972c/1982:13; cited in Davis, 2001:15; italics in the original).

The Derridian perspective of language and meaning has been heralded as a real game-changer for the field of translation studies. Armed with unparalleled confidence in the idea that meaning does not pre-exist and precede language, which is to say it is not before and beyond difference, proponents of deconstruction posit that ''pursuing meaning is not a matter of 'revealing' some hidden presence that is already 'there'; rather, it is relentless tracking though an endless moving play of differences. For this reason, deconstructionists often speak not of the signifier, but of the trace'' (Baker, 2013:75; quotations in the original). This crackdown on the Platonic metaphysical presence, which, according to Derrida has strayed philosophy from its true path, has provided the chance to look at translation from a totally different prism. It therefore comes as no surprise to say that this newly conceived view of meaning renders many previously held ideas about translation obsolete and archaic, especially the most important one constituting the conventional sense of translation based on extra-linguistic meaning, which Derrida refers to as the ''transport of a semantic content into another signifying form" or "the transfer of a meaning or a truth from one language to another without any essential harm being done'' (Davis, 2001:38). Rebutting this conventional view, Derrida postulates that ''meaning - not only the meaning of what we speak, read and write, but any meaning at all - is a contextual event; meaning cannot be extracted from and cannot exist before or outside of a specific context'' (Davis, 2001:9). Imbued with the idea that meaning cannot precede différance, deconstructionist scholars theorize that meaning cannot precede translation, which is to say meaning has no anchorage in the source text, and source text no longer provides the logo or center of meaning (Kruger, 2004). Therefore, as a result of this stance of deconstruction on translation, the long-held idea that original text is the center or source of meaning and translation is just a second-hand communication activity which represents and supplements the source text, is thrown out of kilter. The inauguration of this idea further puts the traditional binary opposite of original/translation into the process of erasure and reverses this hierarchy by letting translation reign supreme, as, according to the new perspective, translation does not owe the original text for its existence, rather, the original is in the translation's debt for its survival (1923). This will be explained in detail in section 2. Although this destabilizing of the original/translation hierarchy cracks open infinite arrays of possibility toward the translator, even still, it does not give the translator the green light to the ''anything goes'' paradigm, as this is the exact recurring misunderstanding where many critics of Derrida's philosophy fall into its trap. Indeed, Derrida further reins back this free play of meaning by exerting twofold leverage of limit (singularity and generality) and iterability (stability and instability). Contrary to the common sophistry -anything goes - gnawing against the deconstructionist approach toward translation, Derrida emphatically stresses the necessity of both structural stability and delimiting context for a text to have meaning. In this vein, he postulates that the meaning of a text evolves through forming a symbiotic alliance between textual stability and instability. According to the Derridian school of thought, every element of a text inherits its meaning partly from a certain stable institutionalization of meaning, which is the result of that particular element's previous codifications and repetitions. While these stable structural elements allow access to the text and enable translation and interpretation, they can never conclusively exhaust the possibility of the meaning of a text. Although by professing the existence of stable structural elements Derrida has managed to rein back the free play of meaning, this does not block the pathway for different interpretations to come, rather, it has paved a path for them. This stable/instable structure of the text to which Derrida (1992) refers to as iterability, simultaneously prevents and offers the text to be read and interpreted in many different contexts, which is, in fact, what is referred to as the double-bind feature of translation. At its simplest, the iterable structure of a text ''both puts down roots in a unity of a context and immediately opens this nonsaturable context into a recontextualization'' (Davis, 2001:76). This, in effect, undermines the aim of translation to create a target text that is equivalent to the source text because the relationship between source text and target text is no longer linear, rather, a source text can have an infinite number of interpretations (Kruger, 2004). In Delabastita's (1997) words, since the meaning of any sign ''has no absolute anchoring in the 'original' context, every sign is repeatable, or iterable but as it can be repeated in a different context the possibility for its meaning remains open" (Davis, 2001:34). Closely aligned with the notions of textual stability and instability that is the iterability of the text, is the structural interdependence of the singularity and generality of the text, which, in effect, enact the limits of translatability and untranslatability. According to Derrida, ''Any language event is an irreducibly singular performance with the meaning that effectuates from a systematic play of differences in a specific context'' (Davis, 2001:21). This systematic movement of difference among signifiers is not just confined to linguistic signifiers, rather, it hosts a wide range of cultural, socio-institutional, economic, etc. signifiers, too (Davis, 2001). To complicate the issue further, each language, according to Benjamin (1923), has a specific manner of meaning which reverberates through its systematic difference of meaning, and this means that it is not feasible to extract meaning from one language system and transfer it to another, as each language has a unique manner of meaning. This point turns on one of the core tenets of deconstruction, holding that, due to the irreducibly singular performance of each language event and the myriad of contextual factors which a translator must be aware of, the ability to find a final, exhaustive interpretation is a utopian ideal, since every interpretation or translation of a text inevitably curtails some contextual factors. Briefly put, a text's meaning does not precede it, rather, a text accrues its meaning only when each and every strand of the text comes into play with the cultural, social, economic context of the language, and that is exactly why the deconstructionists have always attached the greatest importance possible to the context. Which is to say, in effect, every language event enjoys a special amount of uniqueness and singularity, hence, for the text's meaning to occur, it must conform to and repeat already established codes and laws. In sum, each text is the consummation of both singularity and generality, and stability and instability, which gives way to the limit of translatability and untranslatability (ibid). Derrida (1972) himself depicts this interrelationship of singularity and generality and its impact on translation by positing that,

A text lives only if it lives on [sur-vit], and it lives on only if it is at once translatable and untranslatable [...] totally translatable, it disappears as a text, as writing, as body of language [langue]. Totally untranslatable, even within what is believed to be one language, it dies immediately (as cited in Davis, 2001:22).

2. The Binary Opposites in Translation

According to Derrida, Western metaphysics of presence is built on an infrastructure which is a mosaic of vast arrays of binary opposites or operations in which one element always succeeds to the throne while the other one get dethroned. Such manner of thinking has its roots in the Aristotelian principle of ''non-contradiction: A thing cannot both have a property and not have a property'' (Bressler, 2010:110). Taking this statement as a building block, Western metaphysics, maintains Derrida, ''has developed an 'either-or' mentality or logic that inevitably leads to dualistic thinking and to the centering and decentering of transcendental signified'' (ibid). In Derrida's words, one of the orthodox hierarchies that has taken shape under the influence of Platonic and Aristotelian thinking is establishing binary operations between speech and writing in which speech is understood ''as the direct expression of this presence and the truth of its meaning'' therefore being privileged and writing has been understood ''as a derived system that simply represent speech, because it functions in the absence of the speaker/writer'' (Davis, 2001:26). With the advent of deconstruction, Derrida invalidates this and other oppositional models. This rethinking of the traditional binary opposites has a huge impact on the way translation is viewed. Granted that writing is one step removed from the pure signified and reality, and is a secondhand representation of truth that functions in the absence of the speaker or writer, then translation as a kind of rewriting is two steps removed from reality. In a sense, a translator's work is ''an inferior who marries an inferior and has inferior offspring'' (Bressler, 2010:21). In sum, acting on the presumptions of Platonic metaphysical presence, extra-linguistic meaning and speech/writing binary operation puts into action one of the backbone hierarchies in the field of translation from the original/translation hierarchy. With the advent of the unorthodox deconstruction school of thought, its enfant terrible, Derrida, questions the metaphysical presence and its mainspring transcendental signified, and asserts that Western philosophy's proclivity for the concept of pure signified and Aristotle's ''either or'' logic spawned myriad binary opposites. Derrida then sets out to dismantle and deconstruct the very foundation giving rise to such binary operations. Staring with the speech/writing structure, the backbone of Western metaphysics, Derrida sets to reverse the elements of this hierarchy by postulating that writing, contrary to Saussure's belief, is not just a recording mechanism for speech, rather, writing in its new redefined and reworked sense is the general structure of differential traces lying at the heart of any system of communication. In effect, Derrida's redefinition of the term "writing" allows him to refer to speech as a kind of sub-category of writing named "arche-writing". In as much as Derrida has managed to turn Western metaphysics on its head by reversing the elements of its backbone hierarchy, however, reversing the elements of the hierarchy in a way to claim privilege this time for writing and put speech in a unprivileged position is not the ultimate ambition of Derrida, since it is still operating under the umbrella of the same transcendental signified and non-contradiction assumption. Derrida further suggests a way out of this deadlock by positing that, if meaning emerges as a relation of differences, then speech and writing in the narrow sense, along with all other forms of signification, participate in a movement of differences ("general" or arche-writing), rather than in a system of pure oppositions such as natural/artificial, in which one term allows direct, transparent access to the "real" (Davis, 2001:28).

Briefly put, Derrida postulates that the elements constituting the hierarchies should not be viewed as opposite poles of a continuum or binary dichotomies, rather, these elements should operate in a symbiotic relationship with each other. In effect, Derridian movement, which goes a long way to rock the very foundation of Western traditional thought about language, calls for a complete rethinking and restructuring translation studies' infrastructure, especially operations of binary opposites in the field of translation. The reversing of original/translation hierarchy undergirding many translation scholars' perspectives about translation has been adequately mirrored in their theoretical considerations of translation and is in accord with recent rethinking about translation. According to this new perspective, proposed by Benjamin (1923), translation does not owe the original text its existence, rather, the original calls for the translation for its survival. The impact of this statement and also the elimination of extra-linguistic meaning goes a long way to dismantle all the other hierarchies in the field of translation, to name a few, original/translation, author/translator, and content/form. However, like Derrida's musing on language, we are looking for more than just reversing these hierarchies; we actually intend to demonstrates that, likewise in translation, the elements that constitutes its binary opposites are not the opposite poles between which a translator has to make compromise, rather, these elements have a relationship of mutual transformation. For instance, the symbiotic relationship between author and translator will lead to ''the recognition of the 'author' and the 'translator' as mutually participating in a textual system of citations and traces'' (Davis, 2001:45).

3. Translating Decision, Intention and Relevance

With deconstruction spelling a death knell for traditional Western thought about translation pinning on meaning as presence, the field of translation studies has entered into a whole new chapter, with the underlying motif of lack, absence and différance as the essence of meaning. This major rethinking of Western traditional thought, which has had a huge impact on the field of translation, has led to deconstruct the very foundation on which many translation scholars have constructed their theories. By the same token, in the following part, this paper is going to redefine and revise the key terms that have constructed the jargon of translation studies since its inception.

3-1. Relevance

In Derrida's words, the pre-deconstructionist translation scholars naively presumed a relevant translation as the one constructing the most relevant equivalent of the source text in the target text. In effect, a relevant translation would therefore be a pertinent, adequate, univocal, idiomatic translation that, in fact, is the benchmark of a good translation. With the advent of Derridian deconstruction, Derrida, in his insightful article What is a ''relevant'' translation?, questions the old, naïve axiom of relevant translation postulated by the pre-deconstruction scholars of translation by holding that relevance in translation operates under the wing of economy of translation, which can be further subcategorized into two contradictory rules of property and quantity. According to Derrida, the law of property signifies ''... an attempt at appropriation aiming to transport home, in its language, in the most appropriate way possible, in the most relevant way possible, the most proper meaning of the original text...'' (Derrida, 2001:179). Derrida then goes on to define the law of quantity by stating that ''When one speaks of economy, one always speaks of calculable quantity...'' (ibid). Derrida further postulates that these two laws are mutually exclusive and always are defying each other, for instance, whenever a translation tries to obey the law of property by recourse to such translation techniques such as explications, detailed explanation, amplification, compensation, generalization and the like, this translation is unwittingly in defiance of the law of quantity that requires translations to ''be quantitatively equivalent to the original, apart from any paraphrase, explication, explicitation, analysis and the like" (ibid). Contrariwise, whenever a translation intends to be equivalent to the original text in terms of quantity by translating with great economy, that is, by resorting to such translation techniques as implication, omission, specification and the like, it is actually flouting the law of property. In sum, the definition of optimal relevance, in the sense that Gutt and other pre-deconstructionist scholars confer on the term, is like pursuing an ambitious plan, as the twofold law of property and quantity, like the opposite ends of a magnet, are constantly defying each other, and there is no way they will ever be reconciled in any translation. As this is the case, translation needs decision making in the strongest sense of that word and these decisions should be made in a way to negotiate the inherent contradiction of Gutt's optimal relevance concept, since relevance is not before and beyond translation decision making, but, rather, it has evolved though these decisions (Davis, 2001).

3-2. Decision

According to pre-deconstruction translation studies, the concept of decidability has been locked for centuries in a dual opposition with un-decidability. Leaning against this oppositional model, traditional translation scholars posit that decision-making in translation is the act of oscillation between choices pre-existing the translator's decision making. This view of decision making in translation, which, in reality, was propped against logo-centrism par excellence, was wrapped in the thick blanket of doubt with the advent of Derridian deconstruction. As the primary move, deconstructionists pick the lock which has kept decidability in dual opposition with decidability by first rethinking and redefining the sense of the two terms of decidability and un-decidability which made them wind up in duel opposition with each other in the first place. According to John Caputo (1997),

... the opposite of 'undecidability' is not 'decisiveness' but programmability , calculability , computerizablity or formalizability'' (p.137 as cited in Davis, 2007:51).

In the same vein, Caputo posits that only when a decision exceeds this calculability and programmability can it pass muster as such, since if a decision maker in this case is to follow a pre-established and pre-determined course to reach a decision, it can be called anything but a decision, since following the deconstructionist perspective on decision making, it is the undecidability of the meaning of the text that sets the stage for a translator to make a decision that is only when translators faced with an impossible decision for which there is no possible choices do they actually decide that in fact is quite the contrary of traditional view that decision making is the choice between already established options. Derrida assigned the term aporias - '' non-passage or impossible passages'' (Davis, 2001:93) to alleviate the confusion surrounding his definition of decision. He then further states that ''There is no passage and so the translator must decide the undecidable, arrive at a translation without having passed through an open, already determined passage'' (ibid: 94; Davis, 2001).

3-3. Intention

By the same token, deconstructionists invalidate the traditional translation studies' perspective of concept of intention as the speaker's meaning or sense beyond language which the authors wants to communicate to their audience. In this model, language just provides a vehicle for transmitting and transferring his intention. Hence, this traditional view was soon to be challenged by the principles of Derridian deconstruction, according to Derrida meaning, and in this case, intention cannot precede language. This, of course, does not mean that the author has no intention, rather, it means that the author should wait until its meaning inhibits itself in the language and then by differing from itself through a systematic play of traces in context, the text reveals itself. In effect, although the author has an intention to write a piece, his intention has no commanding role on the meaning of the text, plus the translator would never be able to diagnose and transfer the meaning or intention of the author without doing any harm to it; it therefore would mean that since a translator cannot transfer the meaning or intention of the text, then all translation would come under the umbrella of interpretation. More importantly, since no interpretation can fully exhaust the meaning of the text, there can be an infinite number of interpretations, but this should not be considered a green light for the ''anything goes'' paradigm. As is explained above under the issues of iterability and limit, each language has elements of structural stability which are actually the sedimentation of previous usage of language, more commonly known as institutionalization, and for the meaning of a text to evolve, it is inevitable to first have intercourse with these elements. In effect, deconstructionists posit that an author's last stroke of the pen is not the coup de grâce of his work, rather, a text accrues its meaning by differing from both context and text in the broader sense, and this is actually why the deconstructionists emphatically emphasize the importance of contextualization and re-contextualization, as, according to the main tenet of their school of thought, meaning is a contextual event and it is not an entity before and beyond language. In response to the possible accusation that a deconstruction paradigm effaces the concept of the author's intention, Derrida puts it well when he states that, ''The category of intention will not disappear; it will have its place, but from this place it will no longer be able to govern the entire scene and the entire system of utterances'' (Davis, 2001:56). At the simplest, deconstruction makes the point that ''intention is not a prior determinant of textual meaning, intention emerges as a textual effect" (ibid: 59). It actually implies that since the translator cannot replay and represent the intention of the author, they must make performative decisions in the strongest sense (Davis, 2001).

4. Dissenting Voices

Although since its introduction into the field of translation studies by Rosemary Arrojo in 1986, Derridian deconstruction has managed to take such a firm root by establishing itself as a general theory of translation, this burgeoning theory has also been faced with some of the most crippling criticisms over its legitimacy. Amongst the critical voices that have been raised amongst translation scholars, one of the most vociferous critics is Anthony Pym (1995), who, in his article Doubts about deconstruction as a general theory of translation sparks off an array of dissent over the pertinence of the academic field of translation studies and the philosophical school of deconstruction. In the following part, this paper takes a look at a number of Pym's harshest criticisms against the amalgamation of the Derridian deconstruction school of thought with translation studies. According to Pym, this conversion not only does not make any original contribution to the field of translation studies but also it is to its detriment.

1. Pym justifies the deconstructionists' violent reaction against the naïve theory of meaning transfer as laying the foundation for most of the contemporary twentieth century Western translation theories, especially machine translation theories, for, if a translation is just a simple, unproblematic transfer of meaning, it is better off being carried out by machines, but he also notes that the idea of meaning transfer is nothing more than just a social illusion; every translator is fully aware that what they are doing involves more than just transference of stable, pure signified. However, ''Just as deconstruction requires a search for original meaning in order to reveal differences, so translation requires the external reader's belief in meaning transfer in order to produce internal differences''. (Pym, 1995:3; Pym, 1995).

2. In a similar vein to Pym, Britto (2011) postulates that one of the points that snag the deconstructionists' efforts is that they are sawing off the branch that they themselves are sitting on. For instance, despite Arrojo's assumption that logocentrism is fictitious, ironically she was forced to capitalize on the same fictitious assumption to arrange and develop her arguments. This actually makes the point that it is impossible to read, write or translate without keeping this transcendental signified in mind. At its simplest, there is no way to set ourselves free from logocentric thinking (Britto, 2011).

3. In Pym's words, oppositions to the deconstructionist approach to translation fall under three main categories, ''opposition to a generalized external conception of translation, restriction to a problematic of origins, and a residual inferiorization of translation'' (Pym, 1995:6). According to him, recognition of these key oppositions is of no avail to the translator and generally does not make any original contribution to the field of translation studies. In sum, knowledge of these deconstructionist oppositions does not solve any concrete problem and the translator might wind up asking ''So what?'' (Pym, 1995).

5. Conclusion

Translation studies is built on an infrastructure which is a mosaic of Platonic metaphysics of presence and Saussurean linguistics. The core tenet of Ferdinand de Saussure's linguistics, which, in turn, subscribes to Plato's metaphysics of presence, is the assumption that linguistic signs are comprised of two parts: the signifier, the spoken, written symbol, and the signified, the concept to which the signifier signals, that is, the linguistic sign is the consummation of the relationship between these two elements. Saussure further maintained that this purportedly parallel relationship between the signifier and signified is a matter of arbitrariness and convention, which is to say there are absolutely no natural, inherent properties within the signs themselves nor between the signifier and the signified. So if according to Saussure, the meaning does not dwell in the signs, which apparatus in language creates meaning? Saussure answers this question by positing that meaning does not reside in the signs, rather, the meaning of a language is determined through sharing differential relations among its signs, that is, for Saussure, meaning is a matter of relationships and difference amongst the signs of a language. At this juncture, the important point to note is that Saussurean linguistics' chief tenet - that there is a parallel relationship between the signifier and the signified by means of which the signifier represents the signified - is premised on the notion installed at the heart of Western metaphysics that is transcendental signified, an external point of reference upon which the orders between language and reality are held, and it is the same authority that stabilizes the relationship between the signifier and signified, which, in corollary constrains their relationships in language and precludes the free play of differences, as it is the origin of origin and the meaning is conferred on signifiers only if they filter through this ultimate signified. Such a basic assumption concerning the order of language and reality was then challenged by principles espoused by what has been dubbed deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the founding father of deconstruction, poses the most crippling challenges to the longest-held belief in Western philosophy - the metaphysics of presence - which has been up since the time of Plato. Indeed, Derrida's attempt at turning the metaphysics of presence on its head turns out to be so successful, that he actually managed to banish the transcendental signified, which, in turn, makes the whole Western philosophy come crashing down like a house of cards. Derrida inaugurates deconstruction by emphatically coroneting Saussure's decree that language creates meaning by setting differential relations amongst its signifiers, which is to say that the meaning of any signifier does not originate within itself but it accrues its meaning as it differs and is related to other signifiers. While Derrida borrowed from Saussure this key assumption as the building block of his school of thought, he takes a step further by postulating that the relationship of difference through which language makes meaning is not just the monopoly of signifiers but is actually the duopoly of both signifiers and signifieds. At its simplest, this statement makes the point that this relationship of difference between the signifiers likewise applies to the signifieds, that is, a signified can be known because it related to and differed from other signifieds. Recalling the scenario in which Derrida deconstructs transcendental signified, deconstructionists expose the cornerstone which Saussurean linguistics is based on - signifier represents a signified - as heresy and illusion, which erroneously inculcates the belief that meaning is before and beyond language. Rebutting the conventional Western traditional thought about language, deconstructionists changed the view language is conventionally looked at by encouraging us to think about language other than through the prism of the metaphysics of presence. Undermining century-long Western philosophy's search for the transcendental signified as the fundamental error that causes Western philosophy to stray in the wrong direction, deconstructionists firmly suggest that the old view of the relationship between the signifier and signified as a matter of linearity and parallelism by virtue of which each signifier accrues its meaning by referring to the signified must be supplanted by the view that each signifier is a mirage which does not hammer out a way into the transcendental signified, rather, each signifier is defined by the meaning attributed to a signified, which itself becomes the signifier of something else, and, as there is a transcendental signified that provides ultimate meaning, this process goes on ad infinitum (Habib, 2011). The perspective espoused by Derridian deconstruction forced us to alter our view of the world from a polarized, ordered scene to a chaotic, messy one. Such a drastic ideological shift from the linguistic paradigm of structuralism to deconstruction has converted the equations of translation studies, which has been balanced on the notion of logocentrism and the theory of meaning transfer. According to pre-deconstruction translation scholars, the source text is the logo or the centre of meaning and the target text is its supplement, representing the source text. Viewing the relationship between the original text and the target text, these scholars go further by postulating the binary opposite between these two, by which the original text claims a privileged stance over the target text, this oppositional model, constituting the backbone of the pre-deconstructionist view of translation, has, since its emergence, led to a chain of other binary opposites, such as author/translator, form/content and the like. With the advent of deconstruction, its founding father, Derrida brings to task the unproblematic, naïve theory of meaning transfer and binary opposites and calls Saussurean structuralism a totalitarian system, taking the translator as a slave and assigning a second status to the target text. Deconstruction disavows this long-held view of the world by destabilizing the position of the source text as the origin of meaning, inculcating the heresy that by close reading of a text, a translator will reach the kernel meaning, meaning that in the deconstructionist school of thought has no ontological, extra-linguistic status but, rather, the meaning of a text evolves through having differential relationships with an infinite number of textual, contextual factors. That is, deconstructionists supplant transcendental signified lying at the heart of Western translation theory with the new concept of Différance, which, is itself the essence of Derrida's perspective of translation .Deconstructionists questioning the notion of meaning as a pre-existing entity independent from any language system goes a long way to undermining and reversing the oppositional models mentioned earlier, and many translation scholars have constructed their theories on them. In sum, Derridian deconstruction, by breathing new life into the dead theories of translation studies, premised on the fallacy of logocentrism, begets the need to once again renew and rebuild translation studies infrastructure if it is to cope with the challenges that lie ahead.


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