Anthony Pym’s article Redefining Translation Competence in an Electronic Age* is a good read for many reasons. But I like it because it offers a great argument in favour of the role of theory in translation.
In summary, Pym explains that if translation is basically a process of producing and selecting between different possible choices, then translators theorise whenever they translate. Theorisation is therefore an important part of the translation process.
He goes on to explain:
[Theorising] may help translators produce more alternatives than they would otherwise have thought of (pointing out the existence of a problem is often the most important task of theorization), and/or they may help them eliminate possible alternatives.
Of course, he also outlines why theory may not always at first appear relevant to the practicing translator – but for that you’ll have to click through to the article 🙂
* Anthony Pym. “Redefining Translation Competence in an Electronic Age. In Defence of a Minimalist Approach. Meta : journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators’ Journal. Volume 48, numéro 4, Décembre 2003, p. 481-497