Talking at cross-purposes?

The missing link between feminist linguistics and translation studies


  • Olga Castro Aston University



feminist linguistics, feminist translation studies, non-sexist language in translation, theory and practice of translation


Following decades of feminist linguistic activism, and as a result of a greater awareness of the vital role that non-sexist language plays in achieving social equality, different campaigns were launched in many countries leading to a more frequent use of so-called inclusive language. Bringing this together with current theoretical approaches to translation studies which have been defining translation as an ideological act of intercultural mediation since the 1990’s, this article seeks to examine to what extent feminist linguistics have had any influence on translation studies. My purpose is to assess whether particular feminist linguistic interventions in vogue when writing ‘original’ texts within the realm of the source language are also adopted when (re)writing ‘translated’ texts in the target language, bearing in mind the double (con)textual responsibility that translators have towards the source and the target (con)texts. I will examine the arguments for and against the use of inclusive language in (literary) translation through an analysis of the “ideological struggle” that emerged from two ideologically disparate rewritings of gender markers into Galician of the British bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (2003), focusing on the ideological, poetic and economic pressures that (still) define the professional practice of translation. It is my contention that the close scrutiny of these conflicting arguments will shed light not only on the existing gap between the theory and practice of translation, but may be also indicative of a possible ‘missing link’ between feminist approaches to linguistics and to translation studies.

Author Biography

Olga Castro, Aston University

Olga Castro is Lecturer in Translation Studies and Spanish at Aston University, Birmingham, UK. She joined Aston after a year working as Teaching Fellow in Translation at the University of Exeter. She gained her Ph.D. in Translation (with the European Doctorate Mention) at the University of Vigo, Spain, for which she has been also awarded the PhD Extraordinary Prize. Her main areas of research are feminist translation studies, translation and minority, gender and media, feminist linguistics and Galician Studies. She has published a dozen of different peer-reviewed articles and chapters in edited books and journals, and has co-authored with María Reimóndez the monograph Feminismos (Xerais 2012). She has also co-authored the Manual de linguaxe inclusiva para o ámbito universitario (Universidade de Vigo 2012). She is Vice-president of the International Association for Galician Studies.


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How to Cite

Castro, O. (2013). Talking at cross-purposes? The missing link between feminist linguistics and translation studies. Gender and Language, 7(1), 35–58.