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Skopos theory (German: Skopostheorie) is a concept from the field of translation studies. It provides an insight into the nature of translation as a purposeful activity, which is directly applicable to every translation project.
Aim and audience
Skopos theory focuses on translation as an activity with an aim or purpose, and on the intended addressee or audience of the translation. To translate means to produce a target text in a target setting for a target purpose and target addressees in target circumstances. In skopos theory, the status of the source text is lower than it is in equivalence-based theories of translation. The source is an "offer of information", which the translator turns into an "offer of information" for the target audience.
Paul Kussmaul writes about this theory: "the functional approach has a great affinity with Skopos theory. The function of a translation depends on the knowledge, expectations, values and norms of the target readers, who are again influenced by the situation they are in and by the culture. These factors determine whether the function of the source text or passages in the source text can be preserved or have to be modified or even changed.
Rules of skopos theory include:
- the TT must be internally coherent
- the TT must be coherent with the ST
- the TT is determined by its skopos.
- Christiane Nord, Translating as a Purposeful Activity, St. Jerome Publishing, 1997
- Paul Kussmaul, Training The Translator, John Benjamins Publishing Co, 1995
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