RSS feed

Kearns, John (ed.) (2008). Translator and Interpreter Training.  Issues, Methods and Debates.

London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 240 pp.
£21.25. ISBN (paperback) 082649806X ISBN (hardback) 0826498051

Whilst Translating as a profession in the 21st century conjures up images of  teams of translators working against the clock in international organizations to churn out reams of documents in a multiplicity of languages, or project teams working for hard-nosed translation agencies to produce translated texts in the shortest possible time for the lowest possible price, there is more to teaching translation than training students in a set of vocational skills, as those of us working in university translation departments know only too well.  The interesting tension between translating in what Kearns refers to as “the real world” and translating in academe is one which is explored in a volume consisting mainly of papers originally presented at the Second International Conference of the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) held in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2006.  Although the underlying subject of the papers is that of translator (and interpreter) training,  they explore a fascinating range of  different types of translation and different types of translation skills, which will certainly be of interest to anyone working in the field of Translation Studies today.

The contributors offer an international perspective on various aspects of the translation process, from Candace Seguinot’s discussion of how translation became “professionalized” and the economics which drive the employment of non-university trained translators in the Canadian context, to Haidee Kruger’s examination of  the training of translation editors in South Africa, where there has been a recent elevation of the status of ethnic languages, and Minako O’Hagan’s discussion of Fan Translation networks working on the translations of anime and manga from Japanese into English.  Not only is the international aspect of the book interesting, the diverse topics covered offer a fascinating insight into aspects of translation which many translators and translator trainers may find inspiring and enlightening.

An example of the painstaking work that goes into the compiling of dictionaries is to be found in Christine Wilson and Rita McDade’s chapter on the making of British Sign Language dictionaries.  Explaining that British Sign language (BSL) is an indigenous heritage language of the United Kingdom – it is not a visual representation of English but a separate language in its own right – the authors describe in detail the challenges in creating an online BSL/English reference tool, where BSL is an equal partner with English.  In the light of recent legislation on accessibility, Wilson and McDade’s contribution is most welcome in area of growing importance both for teachers and researchers.

Alessandro Zannirato  makes a convincing case for more interaction between disciplines, and in particular between interpreter training and foreign language teaching, drawing on a case study where problems experienced by a student in acquiring interpreting skills were solved by applying the findings of Second language Acquisition research.  This call for more interaction between Translation and Interpreting teaching and other disciplines is a recurrent theme throughout the volume, with Candace Seguinot, in her contribution on Professionalization and Intervention, putting the case for more interaction with Cultural Studies, Catherine Way suggesting that the translator assessment competence model she describes  could usefully be extrapolated to other disciplines and Minako O’Hagan suggesting that Translation can learn much from what may be dismissed as “amateur activities” surrounding professionalized translation.  As Zannirato puts is, “isolation will not help a discipline to thrive”, a view which is implicit in Dorothy Kelly’s ringing endorsement of student mobility, in her contribution on the assessment of study abroad learning outcomes.

Translator and Interpreter Training is a collection of papers which set out to encourage trainers and researchers to break down the boundaries of what John Kearns calls the “academic/vocational dichotomy” and to question the ideology which has hitherto governed curricular planning in the field of Translation Studies.  The volume presents a selection of well-researched and cogently argued papers which make a valuable contribution to current thinking around Translation, a discipline which emerges as broader and more far reaching than might otherwise have been imagined.

Jacqueline Page, Roehampton University