The words “culture” and “mediation” are not new in the literature on translation. Ten years ago Neubert wrote “Translation as Mediation” in The Cultural and Linguistic Barriers between Nations. Bassnett (1991: 4) pointed to “the cultural turn” that Snell-Hornby among others of the Manipulation School were already taking. Hewson and Martin (1991: 133-155, 160, 161) talked of the translator as a “Cultural Operator”, while Hatim and Mason (1990: 128, 223-228) actually devote their final chapter to “The Translator as Mediator”, and in their more recent book (1997) discuss “mediation” in a chapter entitled “Cross-cultural communication”. More recently, this author (1999), includes the term “cultural mediator” in the sub-title of Translating Cultures. There is a danger, however, that these turn of the century buzz words have become “dangerously fashionable” almost substituting, as Baker (1996: 16) points out “rigour and coherence” in translation studies. However, the idea of mediation in translation and mediation in culture, as Straniero-Sergio (1998: 154) points out is not a “nicety” but involves a fundamental shift in motivation, strategy and behaviour (Katan: 1999). I will first discuss the axioms upon which my thinking on culture and mediation are based, and then discuss the attributes of a mediator and the type of translation strategy that should be followed.
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