The Unknown Addressee

by Christiane Nord

It is commonly accepted that anybody who sits down to write a text has at least a vague idea of the audience they are addressing. In text or discourse linguistics there seems indeed to be almost no debate regarding the assumption that the addressee, or rather the idea of the addressee that the author has in mind, is a very important criterion guiding the writer’s stylistic or linguistic decisions. However, what is common practice in technical writing and advertising, is not so unanimously accepted in translation, because fidelity to the source text is regarded as the yardstick by which we measure the quality of a translation. Equivalence-oriented scholars criticize functionalist approaches to translation and ask, “How do translators know who the target audience will be and what their expectations are?”. Using the concept of intertextuality, the following article attempts to provide some methodological suggestions as to how translators and translation students might find an answer to this question before embarking on a particular translation task.

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