Skopos theory was
developed by Hans Vermeer in 1970. The dictionary meaning of ”Skopos” is
”purpose”. According to Skopos theory every action has an aim therefore if the translation is an action, then it has an
aim too and this aim is shaped according to the target culture’s needs,
demands, limitations, and rules.
Very obviously the
translation is completely related to the language and to Vermeer, ” Language
is part of the culture.”. Thus this means the thing in Skopos theory here will
all about culture. The language carries the traces of the cultures on its own
and it can take a culture from one place
Furthermore to examine this
topic more deeply the ”Skopos” word is very important in itself since it
creates a metalanguage, and usage of a metalanguage is momentous. As I mentioned before the dictionary meaning of
Skopos is ”purpose” yes, however, whilst Vermeer named his theory he didn’t
use the purpose word instead he used its
German equivalence to create this field’s
own language. The Skopos word is the
equivalence of purpose in a more scientific way.
The usage of a new word at that time is drawing attention and it makes people think again, and
this word, Skopos, is thus seen as an act of academic field since then.
It is an indisputable
fact how important the skopos theory is. Functionalist Skopos Theory of
translation plays a vital role in the development of translation theory history
(Dan, 2015) since it has brought many new terms into the Translation Studies.
To give some samples of these terms I can list some of them as follows: translatum(target text), skopos, skopoi(plural version of skopos) and subskopoi etc.
like to examine subskopi more. As I mentioned at the beginning of my assignment,
according to Skopos every translation has an aim yes, however,
this does not mean every translation has only one aim and it ends there. In fact, every translation may have more than one
purpose of the text may change or translator may want to give more than one message with their translation. This
leads us to subskopoi which means there may
be another purpose in the translation that is different than the main purpose
and this shows us to this theory shows us how complicated the translation work
Besides this theory
breaks down the idea that the translation is made for the source text and
portraits the translator as the producer of the target text. In fact, it is hypothesized that this theory has
nothing to do with the source text; it concentrates on the purpose of the
translation process. (Dan, 2015) so the focus is mostly on a target culture, target’s expectations. In other
words, a translation should first and foremost seek to fulfill its intended
purpose, rather than seek faithfulness to the source text. (Dan, 2015)
As I mentioned earlier,
Skopos theory has added a lot to the Translation Studies. Another one of those
is, Skopos theory suggested concepts like commission,
commissioner and intercultural communication expert
and specified the stakeholders. According to
Skopos, every single one of the
stakeholders has their own
responsibilities, their own rights, and
freedoms. Furthermore, every stakeholder
has their own expectations and those expectations may overlap. An ethical role
is given to the translator with the acquired responsibilities, rights, and freedoms. There are new occupational ethics and the right to reject the work is
given to the translator whenever they want or when stakeholders expectations
From the things I have
been discussing we now can easily specify that Skopos theory is target oriented
yes, however, it does not impose a translation strategy, on the contrary, if it is needed for
the sake of preserving foreign culture there can be foreignization and a
strategy should be set accordingly.
Translation is never seen as a simple action by Vermeer. To him ” To talk about the
same translator as a recipient of a source text and as a producer of a target
text is to simplify the matter.” According to him and his theory translation
is a very complicated act and should be done meticulously.
Furthermore according to
the Skopos theory action is something
that is conscious and deliberate thus every action the translator takes must be
intentional and on purpose. Many criticisms came out with this statement.
One of them is ”Not all
actions have an aim” since the intention is not always reachable. The
translator who has translated the text
may have died or changed their mind. Besides can we rely on statement-based
The other one is ”Are
the consequences of the intentions constant?” because there might be unintended consequences and the aim of the text
with things that are not in the plan can change completely.
Another and the most
important criticism is ”Is Skopos theory ethical?”.”Is it ethical to act
with all stakeholders’ expectations?” Or ”is it ethical to say this is my
skopos and hide behind it?”
Skopos does not tell that
translator should satisfy everyone and meet all expectations it says you are
the expert so you decide.
Following I will consider
the Skopos theory through the thesis I chose and see the Cheung’s point of view
on Skopos theory and its effect on Bible translation.