With its issue n° 25, The Journal of Specialised Translation pays tribute to translators, putting their emerging and evolving profession in the spotlight.
The special issue on The translation profession: centres and peripheries, guest-edited by Helle V. Dam and Kaisa Koskinen, continues to explore a theme already touched on in n° 19 (Machine translation and the working methods of translators) and n° 21 (Professional aspects of translation). It features 12 papers, an introduction and a concluding article by the guest editors, 8 reviews and 2 interviews. It offers a comprehensive overview of research into the translation profession, illustrated with evidence from varied mature markets, such as Denmark, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and Israel, and supported by data obtained through methodologically rich approaches, including sociology of translation, observational workplace studies, surveys, retrospective verbal protocols, and social network analysis.
The prevalent theme of the issue is the topology of the translation profession — its centre/prototype and fuzzy boundaries — from both diachronic (Paloposki) and synchronic perspectives. The guest editors lay the conceptual foundations in their introduction and concluding paper and discuss boundary work by researchers, trainers and professionals (Dam and Koskinen). Two papers focus on an important determinant of the topology — the translator status, analysing how it is perceived by seasoned translators (Dam and Zethsen) and translation students (Ruokonen). Another crucial aspect of the topology is the centrality of actors in varied settings: in small and medium-sized enterprises (Kuznik) and among freelancers, in-house translators and amateur translators (Risku, Rogl and Pein-Weber). Finally, the core group of papers address internal and external threats to the translation profession. Threats from within include the anti-professionalisation ethos fostered by literary translators (Sela-Sheffy), and internal hierarchisation (Hunziker Heeb). External threats are posed by: crowd-sourcing (Flanagan), market disorder and temporary de-professionalisation related to the recent plague of identity thefts (Pym, Orrego-Carmona, Torres-Simón), and last but not least, threats from technology — computer-aided translation (Christensen and Schjoldager; Bundgaard, Christensen and Schjoldager) and machine translation (Koponen).
This issue also offers two interviews related to its theme: one of a translation company director, the other of a freelance translation professional.
With its richness of perspectives and methodological eclectism, research into the translation profession emerges as a strong and much needed sub-field within Translation Studies.