TRANSLATING LINGUISTIC MINORITIES
WITHIN AND BETWEEN THE ANGLOPHONE AND FRANCOPHONE SPHERES
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3
28-29 May 2020
translation studies, sociolinguistics, cultural studies
In a world with borders already jostled by the conflicts and displacements of the 20th century, the end of the colonial era and the protest movements of the 1960s and 70s ultimately weakened the certainties of an ageing Europe. The dominant intellectual discourse, forced to recognise the voice of young people and of minorities, of the forgotten and the displaced, finds itself needing to adapt to new transformations. In this context, the rise of disciplines such as postcolonial and decolonial studies, gender studies, and sociolinguistics over the past decades pays testament to a veritable effort to shift the centre, while contributing to the validation of new voices and intellectual perspectives.
The creation and ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages by twenty-five countries in 1992, as well as the organisation of an increasing number of conferences related to minority languages and cultures, are proof of the development of academic and institutional interest, relative as it may be, in minority languages. Such initiatives demonstrate the changing dynamics outlined above and have helped to increase the visibility of minority groups and the challenges they face (discrimination, linguistic insecurity, economic opportunities, access to world cultures etc. [Macaulay 1997, Cronin 1995]).
Grappling with the emergence of these questions is a tall order for translators of fiction and non-fiction, confronted with the multifaceted realities that have come to replace a once monolingual and eurocentric understanding of standard languages [Macaulay 1997]. Minority and regional languages; accents, dialects, and sociolects; youth or queer language; languages of immigration, of previously colonised countries, or of diaspora communities: these all fall into the broad category of linguistic minorities 1. which have begun today to redefine borders between languages and to question the translator’s agency.
The act of translating diversity, hybridity, and linguistic variation hence raises a number of ethical and political issues insofar as translating the Other involves a three-fold reassessment of (1) power relations within and between languages, (2) the reception of alterity, and (3) the position of the reader-translator. Since the “cultural turn” of the 1990s [see Bassnett & Lefevere 1990], contemporary Translation Studies has armed itself with ideas advanced in cultural studies and sociolinguistics in an effort to offer answers to these questions and to rethink alterity in translation in light of the sociology of the globalised literary market.
Focusing on the dynamics specific to the translation of linguistic minorities within and between the anglophone and francophone spheres across the five continents, this conference endeavours to instigate a more encompassing investigation, the antithesis of what Michael Cronin refers to as homogenising and essentialist views of Europe2. Through a dialogue with the margins of two European cultural powerhouses, we hope to invite a questioning of the hierarchies inherent in both linguistic areas while laying the foundation for further multilingual studies.
Declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations, 2019 is a particularly appropriate time to be calling for such reflections.
1 Definition of the notion of minority by Francisco Capotorti for the United Nations : « A group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State, in a non-dominant position, whose members – being nationals of the State – possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity, directed towards preserving their culture, tradition, religion or language » [Capotorti 1979 : 96 § 568]
2 « The signal failure to account for the linguistic and translational complexity of Europe in part stems from the tendency by post-colonial critics to reduce Europe to two languages, English and French, and to two countries, England and France. Thus, the critique of imperialism becomes itself imperialist » [Cronin 1995]
Lines of inquiry
This two-day conference will include a number of thematic panels, workshops, and roundtables which seek to shed light on the representation of linguistic minorities in francophone and anglophone contexts through the prism of translation. In this vein, we invite proposals that study the way in which linguistic minorities are presented in literary and audiovisual texts, as well as in the media, reflecting on issues including, but not limited to:
- the ethical positioning of the author/translator
- the authenticity and accessibility of the voice of the Other / the influence of the target audience on the linguistic veracity of the text (source and target)
- the role of the market in commercial translation
- the influence of external parties on the translation process
- intralingual translation and/or the standardisation of minor languages/linguistic varieties
- innovative translation strategies and the translator’s creativity
- the tension between orality and the written word
- self-translation as a possible form of emancipation for minority writers
- questions related to the temporality of minority languages and linguistic varieties
- the role of the paratext in presenting the Other / links between the paratext and translation strategies used within the text
- (non-)translation and the availability of the voice of the Other
- questions of power and the construction of identity
- the role of the media in shaping the reputation of minority groups
- the position of the minority language within the text (e.g narration v. dialogue, main character v. isolated characters)
While the subject beckons a fundamentally pluridisciplinary approach to the issues broached, with the participation of specialists from other disciplines (linguistics, sociolinguistics, dialect studies, literary studies, media studies, anglophone studies, francophone studies etc.) highly encouraged, the papers presented should concern themselves primarily with the question of translation. We also welcome concrete case studies and contributions from professionals (translators, editors, journalists etc.). This conference will deal exclusively with the anglophone and francophone spheres, with the aim of establishing a more multilingual perspective in a future event.
Proposals for papers or round tables (in English or French) should be uploaded to the conference website before January 3, 2020.
For individual papers (20 minutes + 10 minutes of discussion), please send an abstract of approximately 300 words, accompanied by five keywords and a biographical note of approximately 150 words.
For round table discussions (30 minutes + 30 minutes discussion), please send a proposal of 300-500 words and a list of topics to be addressed in the discussion, accompanied by five keywords and a biographical note of approximately 150 words for each participant (3-4 speakers).
MA and PhD students working on topics related to the conference themes are also encouraged to present their research in poster form. Please submit a brief summary and title of the project, indicating your status and year of enrolment (e.g. 1st-year Masters, 2nd-year PhD).
Submissions will receive a response at the beginning of February.