The relatively recent acceptance of the term Translation Studies may perhaps surprise those who had always assumed that such a discipline existed already in view of the widespread use of the term ‘translation’, particularly in the process of foreign language learning. But in fact the systematic study of translation is still in swaddling bands. Precisely because translation is perceived as an intrinsic part of the foreign language teaching process, it has rarely been studied for its own sake. What is generally understood as translation involves the rendering of a source language (SL) text2 into the target language (TL) so as to ensure that (1) the surface meaning of the two will be approximately similar and (2) the structures of the SL will be preserved as closely as possible but not so closely that the TL structures will be seriously distorted. The instructor can then hope to measure the students’ linguistic competence, by means of the TL product. But there the matter stops.
The stress throughout is on understanding the syntax of the language being studied and on using translation as a means of demonstrating that understanding.