Wednesday, 11 June 2014 18:15

Panel 02: Translation and development

 Translation and development

Panel Convenors: Kobus Marais, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa:

Recent decades have seen criticism levelled against the reductionist project in Western scholarship. In the search for a solution to the perceived impasse, semiosis, complexity and emergence have been introduced as possible avenues by which to deal with the perceived limitations of reductionism. At the same time, it has become common place to talk about the sociological turn in translation studies. This development, which started with sociolinguistic approaches to translation in the 1960s and which included pragmatic, cultural, and ideological approaches to translation studies, is aimed at liberating translation studies from the confines of a narrow linguistic perspective to include the whole of social reality in its purview. In the current sociological debate in translation studies, the focus is on the agency of translators, i.e. the way in which translators contribute towards the creation of the various domains of society.

Recent advances in translation studies have focussed on geopolitical factors that influence translation practices. This will open the door to study third-world or developing contexts and the relationship between translation and development, i.e. both the developmental role played by translation as well as developmental contexts as a factor in translation. If it is true that societies emerge from the linguistic interactions of individuals, it means that issues of development have a semiosic substratum that links to translation in multilingual situations.

In light of the above, the overarching question is the following:

How is one to conceptualise the relationship between translation and society and, in particular, developing society?

Related questions entail the following:

· How does the notion of development relate to translation, i.e. is a development context a factor in translation? If so, how is this relationship to be conceptualised, and what are the implications for translation theory and for the education of translators in such contexts?

· How does the notion of translation relate to notions of development, i.e. what role does, can, or should translation and translation studies play in development as a social ideal?

· Can the same claims about the construction of culture through literary translation by, for example, Gentzler and Bandia be made for the construction of social reality through communicative texts in developing contexts?

· What new vistas does the notion of development open for translation and translation studies? For one, how would translation practices in the informal sector of the economy differ from those in formal sectors of the economy?

Far from being parochial, these questions feed into pressing global debates such as the power differentials between developed and developing parts of the world, the negotiation of ideas when they travel and when they interact with contexts in which they did not originate, cultural translation and the representation of the Other, notions of post- and neo-colonialism, and the foundational role of human interaction and semiosis in all of the above.


For informal enquiries: [jmaraisATufsDOTacDOTza]


 Kobus Marais is an associate professor in translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature. His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses. He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.





Each paper is allocated with a 20 minutes time slot + 10 minutes discussion.
Discussion time:
- at the end of each paper


Title: Translation and development: Setting the scene
Speaker: Kobus Marais, University of the Free State

Abstract: 10 minutes introduction

Bionote: Kobus Marais is an associate professor of translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature.
His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses.
He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.

Title: Translation, translation studies and development: Widening our worlds
Speaker: José Lambert (CETRA, KULeuven; PGET/UFSC, Brazil), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: Academic disciplines as well as universities have a certain autonomy in the definition of their goals and priorities, which explains their shifts in terms of time and space as well as their lack of homogeneity. Hence translation scholars have their responsibilities, in terms of globalization. Our question in this panel might indeed be what kind of models for development will be adopted. This sounds like a scary issue for a field of expertise where literature and language, in European environments, tended to provide the dominant background until the 1980s.

In a few decades, various particular traditions have developed, from translation training to linguistic, literary and cultural models, etc. According to Pym, the well-known Holmes model, later worked out by Toury, was the only explicit attempt to meet the standards of academia. This makes us assume that the academic dynamic was weaker than the external dynamic. Indeed, external forces such as internationalization (after World War II) and then globalization (at the end of the 20th century) seem to have been decisive. The diplomatic selection of a name in the new lingua franca has certainly favored the illusion of consistency. Illusion? Even within the bibliography in English, one and the same name does not guarantee one and the same nature of Translation Studies (TS). Translation training has joined various options for academic research. So far the institutional power remains mainly located within the language departments, notwithstanding the many "turns" experienced over, say, twenty years. The late discovery of sociological turns, amongst others, is surprising given the idea, since the 1970's, that research on translation ought to be research about norms.

TS seems to share with many other disciplines its search for stability: in terms of internal dynamics, first of all, since turning around is no symptom of continuity and certainly in terms of relations with several neighbour (?) departments (linguistics, communication, literary and cultural studies, psychology, sociology, technology, philosophy, etc.). Bibliographical and conceptual interaction does not really circulate, not even between several departments where languages, communication and translation are at stake. In terms of mobility, the sudden and spectacular participation of new continents and new people involve the establishment of new centers and networks. While universities in general tend to be absorbed by "global" ranking, communication and other marketing currents, TS can hardly function as an autonomous resource. Whether it will be enrolled as a service by and for stronger neighbours or as an active partner in organization and decision issues will obviously not be a matter for academia only. The main obstacle seems to be that so far TS has cut off itself from obvious and strong partnerships both within academia and within the real everyday world: in the 1950s, TS has started in business and in organizations, but nowadays the discipline still belongs to ancient worlds. This paper seeks to address these issues conceptually in order to link translation studies (again) to current reality.

Bionote: José Lambert is professor emeritus at KULeuven in romance philology, comparative literature and theoretical studies. Long before functioning as ICLA's European secretary, he played a role in the development of translation studies, first with James Holmes and Gideon Toury, particularly as the organizer of the influential Leuven conference on Literature and Translation and then when creating in the same year CETRA (first called CERA Chair, a research training center and Target. Beyond particular initiatives in the institutionalization of the discipline, he struggled for interdisciplinarity and for a real globalization. Since 2011, he has been a professor at Florianópolis, Brazil (PGET at UFSC).

Title: Translation and development: A multinational company (MNC) in a BRICS country
Speaker: Jean-François Brunelière (PGET/UFSC/BRAZIL), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The relevance of companies and of their communication as a strategic component of "real" (social, economic, cultural) life is nothing new for Translation Studies (TS). This was one of the axioms of translation theories and training after World War II, but some translation scholars from the age of globalization seem to have forgotten their origins. For a new branch of the discipline focusing on the relationship between translation and development, the specific case of MNCs entering emergent markets (e.g. the BRICS countries) offers clear indications of how translation, local economic development and the knowledge economy are linked. In Brazil, the government made a considerable effort to encourage foreign automotive manufacturers to invest in innovation and, ultimately, to produce locally.

Inevitably, technology transfer between foreign countries and Brazil involve the use of different languages – hence, the advent of translation. This interactive channel has an overt impact on local economic development – in terms of employment, formation and language/cultural contact. PSA Peugeot Citroën, the MNC we have chosen to observe, relies on more than 5,000 employees in Brazil and operates two local plants and one research and design unit. Even though PSA claims to use "one" corporate language at management level worldwide, it sounds rather unlikely that all employees involved in the industrial production process communicate through this lingua franca in all situations. One can say that, for companies of such magnitude, translation is among the cornerstones of both production and communication.

Owing to techniques developed within Toury's Descriptive Translation Studies – such as macro/micro level and synchronic/diachronic analysis – and using the company's discourse designed for different audiences (investors, press, clients) – largely available on the Internet – it is possible to approach the polysystems at work and identify some basic trends in the translations circulating in Brazil – e.g. in terms of directionality, norms and dominant positions (centers/peripheries). As both diversity and recurrent schemes come to the forefront, one realizes that the complexity of external and internal factors – just as the variety of agents participating in the translation process – must be taken into consideration. Depending on where a specific vehicle is produced and how the international communication campaign is designed, Brazilian members of the local marketing team might instigate their headquarter colleagues to privilege the local consumers' taste, for example, allowing new translation patterns to emerge. MNCs, driven by their rather besetting preoccupation with market and economic performance, often reshape the existing interrelationship between state, economy and society; such dynamics illustrate principles stressed by Walter Ong and in many books on the mobility of communication, but never applied to translation, and still less to business translation should no longer be overlooked in Development and Translation Studies.

Bionote: Jean-François Brunelière is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'Etat ("National Civil Engineering School of Lyon"), France, where he also worked for eight years as an engineer. He is currently living in Brazil and is taking a PhD in Translation Studies at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis. His project is on language management and translation in multinational companies. He is currently focusing on French car manufacturers in Brazil. His academic adviser is Translation Studies specialist José Lambert.

Title: Theoretical background for studying innovation issues in translation-service activities
Speaker: KUŹNIK, Anna, PhD, Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Poland, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The aim of my communication is to present a theoretical background and the pilot-study findings of my current post-doctoral research that I am carrying out in the Institute of Romance Philology, Unity of Translation Studies, University of Wrocław. The theoretical stage will be completed at the beginning of 2015, and the first empirical data (pilot study) will be collected in May and June 2015.
In this study, I touch upon the issue of translation approached from the translation studies, social and economic angles. What is in the centre of my interests is translation and, in particular, the questions about its essence, variety of forms, limits and surrounding in modern understanding, reception and service practice in the Republic of Poland. I focus on the translation service providers, irrespective of language combinations. The object of my research is the following three aspects: the conceptualisation of translation, the configuration of translation service activities and its innovative potential. My main research hypothesis is that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between all the three aspects of the translation service activities within a single translation service provider. This means that it is possible to observe that a broad understanding of translation determines a broad configuration of services and has an impact on the level of the innovative potential. A narrow understanding of translation determines the restricted configuration of services and has an impact on the level of the innovative potential, resulting in a tendency towards a low innovative potential. In my approach, I understand the concept of development as a specific process of evolution of the translation service activities, from its current form to a future, more efficient and competitive one.
Firstly, in my communication, I focus on the theoretical background of my research, approached from the fields of management, organisational studies and translation studies. I will try to answer the following three questions:
1. Are the general definitions of innovation, well known in the field of management and organisational studies, are applicable to translation service activities?
2. To what extend are the main typologies of innovation, namely the OECD typology (product innovation, process innovation, organizational innovation and marketing innovation) and the "4Ps" model (product innovation, process innovation, position innovation and paradigm innovation) developed by Bessant and Tidd (2007) useful for studying translation service activities?
3. Are all the traditional (object-based) and new forms of measuring innovation (subject-based approaches) possible and efficient in the case of the translation service activities?

Secondly, I present the results of my pilot study carried out with two translation service providers based in the city of Wroclaw (Poland). In the pilot stage, I take into account two respondents' profiles: (1) translation companies with Polish capital and (2) translation companies which are the representatives of foreign mother companies (in their cases, the indicators of innovation can be shaped differently).

Bionote: Anna Kuźnik is a graduate of Romance philology from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow (Poland), a Master degree in Ibero-American Linguistics and Literature from the Caro and Cuervo Institute in Bogota (Colombia), she was awarded a PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2010. She is now working as a senior lecturer at the Institute of Romance Philology, University of Wrocław (Poland). Her research interests are focused on the following topics: work organization in translation services; knowledge transfer from universities into translation services; and work content of translators' jobs.


Title: Exploring the genesis of Arabic fiction translation into English: A sociological account

Speaker: Abdel Wahab Khalifa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Abstract: English translations of texts associated with Arabic fiction remain largely unexplored from a sociological perspective. Research on the translations of Arabic fiction into English has mainly focused on the linguistics of translation. However, the network of sociocultural factors conditioning the production, consumption, and circulation of these translations appears to have been largely overlooked within scholarly discourse. Hence, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's sociology, this paper sets out to examine the genesis of translating Arabic fiction into English as a socially situated activity.

Works of Arabic fiction emerged in English translation in the early twentieth century. In his chronological bibliography of Arabic fiction in English translation, Altoma argues that there are three identifiable thresholds or "phases" within the history of translating Arabic fiction into English (i.e., the initial phase, the expanding phase and the post-Nobel phase). This paper challenges and reconstructs this argument, putting forward alternative dates for the processes of development identified by Altoma and a Bourdieusian analysis of the dynamics of translation in the phases he suggested. The paper culminates by arguing for the recognition of a fourth phase, which could be referred to as the post 9/11 phase, and will also investigate its agents and dynamics.

Since the field of Arabic fiction translation into English is subject to both internal and external factors – including geopolitical and sociocultural events – which (trans)form and condition its structure and dynamics, this paper attempts to provide insights on overlooked aspects of the four distinct, though overlapping, phases identified above. This is done insofar as they have affected the field's structure, capital at stake, agents involved, modes of production used and the amount of activity within the field. Thus, in contrast to the linear understanding of the history of Arabic fiction translation and informed by a bibliography of translated Arabic fiction into English which I have compiled, this paper makes use of Bourdieu's concepts of field and capital as analytical tools to both describe and interpret the complexity of the translation activity taking place in this field of cultural production.

Bionote: Abdel Wahab Khalifa is a double major doctoral candidate at the Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) and the Centre for Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (AIMES) at the University of Leeds. He has a BA and a PGDip in English Language and Literature from Tanta University, and an MPhil in Translation and Intercultural Studies from the University of Salford. Among other publications, he is the editor of Translators have their say? Translation and the power of agency (2014). His research interests include the sociology of translation; translation historiography; translation motivation as well as literary criticism and Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern cultural and literary histories.

Title: Translation as an agent for development communication in sub-Saharan Africa
Speaker: Mwamba Chibamba, PhD candidate, University of Ottawa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: The notion of development has been a rather polemical as the evolution of the discipline through the years has shown. Scholars such as Dwivedi and Nef, among others, have argued that most of the theories that inform development administration as a discipline are largely Western, and as such, do not adequately explain nor provide solutions to developmental issues for peripheral regions of the world with very different contexts. Despite their differences, earlier theories of development such as modernization, dependency and neo-liberalism have been criticized for focusing on economic growth as the major indicator of development as opposed to more current indicators such as those encompassed in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Reports and Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum's capability approach, which are centered more on the individual.

Development has been one of the top priorities of African governments since independence. Achieving it sometimes hinges on the extent to which development communication is successful. Development communication is thus an important tool in facilitating development, and it equally requires a context-specific approach. Suffice it to say that translation and communication could play an important role in the implementation and successful delivery of development programs.

It is against this backdrop that this paper seeks to highlight the role of translation in development communication in some countries of sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Zambia and Kenya). Given Africa's diversity, it is imperative that development communication on issues such as child nutrition and immunization and the prevention of diseases ranging from malaria to HIV and AIDS, which, for the most part, is produced either in the West or in European languages, is localized. The study aims to explore some of the translation practices and innovative ways in which developmental messages have been delivered, such as through the use of drama and mass media. It will also explore some of the ways in which translators have dealt with the question of specialized terminology (for example medical terms) that have no equivalent in local languages or are considered as taboo subjects. The paper will analyse some of the context-specific dynamics that could affect communication such as multilingualism, orality and the disparate literacy levels and diverse cultures. In discussing translation as a mediating force between cultures, Bernacka points out that "Translations can therefore have a distinct effect on how global and human rights issues can be conveyed and communicated".

It is expected that this paper will give an insight into how translation facilitates communication in development. It is also expected that the paper will demonstrate that context matters when it comes to the delivery of any kind of information.

Bionote: Mwamba Chibamba is currently pursuing a doctorate in translation studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research interests include translation in Africa, postcolonialism, African affairs as well as global affairs.

Title: We have never been un(der)developed: Translation and the biosemiotic foundation of being in the global south
Speaker: Kobus Marais, Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, University of the Free State, South Africa, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstract: Development studies in general and development theory in particular face serious problems. Not only is the development project itself problematic for ideological and practical reasons, but scholarly thinking about development also faces serious problems. The most prominent current theories of development are trying to find the foundation of development theory in theories of justice and human rights. Though these theories are making an important contribution towards the debate on development theory, they seriously lack in one regard. None of them regard language in general and multilingualism in particular as relevant factors in development. What is more, none of them consider semiosis, i.e. the ability of living organisms to create meaning, as a factor of development.

In this paper, I intend to go deeper than merely considering the linguistic and translational (proper) foundation of development. By building on theories of biosemiotics and intersemiosic translation, I shall consider the biosemiotic foundation of what is these days called 'development'. In its link to Lotman's theory of semiotic universe, the argument pertains to the ability of living organisms to respond to an environment by creating meaningful responses to that environment (semiosis). The argument also considers translation as focussing on the process nature of semiosis, thus explaining the continuous creative ways in which living organisms and groups of organisms respond to the challenges of their environment and in which they construct these response to create what we call culture and/or society.

The aim of the paper is to argue that translation studies have been too narrowly 'cultural' and 'linguistic' in its view of translation. If translation is expanded, through a biosemiotic conceptualisation of translation, to include the material conditions of semiosis, it will allow translation scholars to contribute at a much wider scale to the debate on 'development'. Also, it could lead to a more solid theoretical foundation of development itself. The paper thus entails a conceptualisation, relating its thesis to a debate with current literature in translation studies, semiotics and development studies.

Bionote: Kobus Marais is an associate professor in translation studies at the University of the Free State in South Africa. He holds qualifications in various fields of study, including an MA in translation studies and a PhD in Biblical Hebrew Literature.
His research focuses on theorising the African context of translation from the perspective of complex semiosic systems. He explores the relationship between development and translation by constructing a theory of complex semiosic responses.
He has just published a book with Routledge called Translation theory and development studies: A complexity theory approach.

Title: Translation and development: Rounding up
Speaker: All participants and audience
Abstract: 30 minutes concluding discussion

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