German-language approaches to translation have been revolutionized by the theory of actions (handlungstheorie) and the related theory of a translation's goal or purpose (skopostheorie). Both these approaches are functionalist, they seek to liberate translators from servitude to the source text, seeing translation as a communicative act that must be purposeful with respect to the translator's client and readership.
This survey of functionalist approaches in English explains the complexities of the theories and their terms, using simple language with examples. The text includes an overview of how the theories developed, illustrations of the main ideas and specific applications to translator training, literary translation, interpreting and ethics, expounding the author's concept of the translator's loyalty. A review of criticisms made of the theories, together with perspectives for the future development of functionalist approaches are also included.