Radical translation


Radical translation

Radical translation in philosophy is the situation in which a linguist is attempting to translate a completely unknown language, which is unrelated to his own, and is therefore forced to rely solely on the observed behavior of its speakers in relation to their environment.

The term was introduced by American philosopher W. V. O. Quine

Quine tells a story (Quine 1960) to illustrate his point, in whichan explorer is trying to puzzle out the meaning of the word "gavagai".He observes that the word is used in the presence of rabbits, butis unable to determine whether it means ‘undetached rabbit part’, or ‘fusion of all rabbits’, or 'temporal stage of a rabbit’, or 'the universal ‘rabbithood’

The subject is dealt with in more detail under Indeterminacy of translation.

See also

* Donald Davidson (philosopher)
* Indeterminacy of translation
* Meaning (linguistics)
* Philosophy of language
* W. V. O. Quine

References

Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1960)

External links

[http://www.consciousentities.com/gavagai.htm] The "gavagai" story. [http://faculty.washington.edu/bonjour/Unpublished%20articles/UBCPAPER.html] A paper by Lawrence Bonjour criticising Quine's claims, among others.


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