Curriculum vitae

Teaching and supervision


Main publications



Translation in Systems
Descriptive and Systemic Approaches Explained
Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 1999
195 pages. ISBN 1 900650 11 8
Series Translation Theories Explained, volume 7

Re-issued Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, 2004. ISBN 7 81095 056 8


Preamble: Mann's Fate
1. An Invisible College
2. Lines of Approach
3. Points of Orientation
4. Undefining Translation
5. Describing Translation
6. Working with Norms
7. Beyond Norms
8. Into Systems
9. More Systems?
10. Translation as System
11. Criticisms
12. Perspectives

From the reviews:

This is a very well-written an well-structured account of the descriptive translation studies approach. The account itself is more than merely descriptive; it constitutes, rather, an engagement, on the part of one of the key specialists in the field, with some of the issues at the very heart of the approach (Does description presuppose neutrality? Do norms lead to laws? Is it possible under the polysystem theory to place texts in relation to their contexts?), issues which are of concern to researchers in the field of translation studies.
Paul St-Pierre, Meta 45, 2000, 2.

One of the attractions of the book at a basic level is its readability. By this I mean that it combines the most careful and informed scholarship with an ability to convey a personal enthusiasm for the subject. Hermans does not lose sight of the fact that in something called ‘translation’ we are dealing with a fundamental human activity in which all our lives are meshed – the business of communication.
Val Morgan, New Comparison 29, 2000.

Hermans uses Luhmann’s distinction between first and second-order observation to criticize translation criticism and even more directly empirical research. As there can be no objectivity in observation, he concludes that self-reflexive translation research must be based on theory, analysis, and history. This view is echoed in the final chapter where Hermans comments on where he thinks the descriptive and systemic paradigm is likely to go. Both here and in the chapter just before it where he addresses the criticisms that have been raised about this approach, he points out the need to move beyond the structurally-inspired model, and admits that the original identity of the paradigm is unravelling. He also astutely notes that innovations are coming from what he terms committed approaches. In the final analysis, this is a text that is as philosophically lucid as it is honest.
Candace Séguinot, TTR 13, 2000, 1.

Hermans provides a thorough, historical account of descriptive translation studies, the ‘ Manipulation School ’ and other systems-oriented approaches to studying translation. As an important player in this field – he edited the first ‘manipulation’ volume entitled The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation (1985) – he is well-qualified to do so. His account is that of an informed insider, who has had personal contact with many of those involved in this work and good knowledge of their research projects. Yet these personal contacts do not hinder him from uttering sharp criticism of the more categorical or dogmatic uses systems-oriented theories may be and have been put to.
Luise von Flotow, CLCWeb 3, 2001, 1.

Como conclusión podemos afirmar que el volumen presenta una revisión de las corrientes que se integran dentro de los estudios descriptivos de traducción que era necesaria; la secuenciación de los conceptos, que parte de principios básicos como traducción, equivalencia o unidad de traducción y la concatenación de éstos con los de normas de traducción, leyes de traducción y sistema posibilita una lectura eminentemente didáctica; no obstante, parece posible señalar un segundo nivel de lectura; en éste, la relación de conceptos traductológicos con conceptos lingüisticos, la presencia de una bibliografía extensa sobre el campo y la revisión de autores y teorías que habían quedado en el olvido durante el desarrollo de los estudios de traducción convierten a este libro en cita obligada también para lectores versados en la disciplina.
Martín José Fernández Antolín, Hermeneus 3, 2001.

Translation in Systems is een uitermate rijk boek. Het is ook een zeer leesbaar boek, al vraagt het tamelijk veel van zijn lezers. Het schetst een ontwikkeling van een belangrijk aspect van de vertaalwetenschap en opent nieuwe verschieten. Als er al iets op valt aan te merken, dan is het de frustratie die het aan het eind bij de lezer oproept, omdat het uit is.
Hella Breedveld en Cees Koster, Filter 8, 2001, 2.

Last updated 7 April 2006 by Theo Hermans.