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date: 26 June 2019

Introduction

Abstract and Keywords

The study of translation is a well-established field of scholarly activity. The discipline has taken its position in academia as a subject of serious research and study. This article is a reference work and practical guide for the benefit of professional translators and interpreters, and for students and researchers in the field of translation and interpreting studies and allied disciplines. Furthermore, the concepts and issues central in the development of the discipline are addressed. In addition, it deals with the translation of written texts of nine major types, and the translation of texts used in advertising and localization. It also covers signed language interpreting. The interaction between humans and technological tools in translational contexts, and its commercial applications are also discussed. Finally, the article focuses on the varied forms of training and education available to prospective translators and interpreters, including the prerequisites for admission to programmes and difficulties associated with assessment.

Keywords: translation, interpreting studies, signed language, translational contexts, training, education

The central place occupied by translation and interpreting in human culture has long been recognized, and can hardly be overstated. In a globalized world, it is all too easy to take it for granted, and forget that, without these activities, linguistic communities would be condemned to a degree of cultural isolation which is nowadays difficult to imagine. The global hegemony of English does not mean that fluency in it is universal, that it will not at some point be deposed from its privileged position, or that monoglot speakers of it can ignore the achievements of other cultures, which of necessity reach them by way of translation. The ever-increasing volume of international contact and trade, and of text generated by the rise of the Internet, add to the need for translation and a concomitant need for a deeper understanding of the process. Translators and interpreters have served throughout the ages as the conduits by which scientific, cultural, and intellectual exchange takes place when the participants have no common language, and they continue to do so. In the field of literature, few who have given thought to the subject would now regard translation as a subordinate or derivative process in which no creative ability is required. Stock aphorisms, such as Pushkin's about translators being ‘the post-horses of enlightenment’, remain no less true for being well known.

The study of translation in its manifold forms is now a well-established field of scholarly activity. Once seen as a homeless hybrid at best, and later as an interdisciplinary area best approached through its neighbouring disciplines, (e.g. theoretical and applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, discourse analysis, literary study, comparative literature), it has now achieved full recognition as a discipline in its own right, to which related disciplines make vital contributions. As the pages that follow remind us, a great deal of intellectual energy has been devoted to the exploration and practice of translation and interpreting for many centuries, although the effort was for long periods sporadic. The greater (p. 2) concentration of research is a much more recent phenomenon, dating from a time when the practices of translation and interpreting themselves began to expand and diversify in the mid-twentieth century. At the time of writing, a decade into the new century, most major publishers feature translation and interpreting titles in their catalogues, and conferences proliferate. The discipline has truly come of age and taken its position in academia as a subject of serious research and study. The modern evolution of translation studies may be seen in some of the contributions to this volume.

A similar explosion has occurred in thinking and publishing in the pedagogy of translation. Where once students of languages were deemed to be fully qualified as translators and interpreters on the basis of language study and translation and interpreting practice alone, they are now expected to be familiar with the translation industry and with translation tools and electronic text-transmission. They need the confidence to work both as independent free-lancers with sufficient diplomatic skills to manage their clients, and as team-workers for agencies or in the translation office of national or international businesses. They need enough self-awareness to know when to accept and when to decline work and deadlines, and they must conform to the highest of ethical standards. To translator and interpreter training, therefore, must be added education that will support student translators and interpreters in acquiring the requisite skills and personal attributes. Such an education cannot encompass information about the practicalities of the industry and about working practices alone. Translator and interpreter trainees must also acquire a good understanding of the history, theory and culture of the translation and interpreting disciplines, so that they will gain a sense of themselves as professionals practising an ancient profession which has played a central role in the development of peoples, languages and cultures, and which is the subject ofa significant body of research. The notion of translation and interpreting as practices divorced from theory is no longer widely accepted. In the modern university curriculum in many countries the theory and practice of the translating and interpreting professions are increasingly integrated.

The present Handbook is intended as a reference work and practical guide to the field, for the benefit of those working professionally as translators and interpreters, and for students and researchers in the field of translation and interpreting studies and allied disciplines. It is hoped that it will serve the interests of translators, interpreters, and specialists who work in individual languages but wish to broaden their knowledge and identify underlying principles of general application, and at the same time serve as a teaching resource. In its design it is intended to cover all major concepts, processes, and theoretical angles, and give an up-to-date account of each topic, while recognizing that in the technical fields, in particular, change is so rapid as to necessitate almost constant revision.

Divisions of disciplines are always to an extent artificial; but a reference work must be organized somehow, and here we have applied a sevenfold categorization, (p. 3) with subdivisions within each part. The history of translation theory, which is the subject of Part I, causes us especial concern; being mindful of the need to go beyond the European tradition, we may have suggested an artificial division in a field that is increasingly open to all comers. Nor is every part of the world given its due in the two chapters on thinking on secular translation, let alone in the single chapter on translation of the sacred. Nonetheless, a significant sum of thinking and reflection on secular and sacred texts is covered in Part I of our volume.

In Part II, our contributors address a number of concepts and issues that have been central in the development of the discipline: language, style, meaning, culture, cognition, and the process of translation. While these are to a large extent medium neutral, each of the three parts that follow is devoted to a particular manifestation of text.

Part III deals with the translation of written texts of nine major types: prose, drama, poetry, song, and children's literature; public service, legal, and scientific (including also technical and medical) translation; and the translation of texts used in advertising and localization. Part IV covers the two major ways of translating speech: simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, and three main interpreting contexts: conference, legal, and public service interpreting, and concludes with a chapter on signed language interpreting.

In Part V, we move beyond the single medium of language to multimedia situations, including subtitling, in which speech is represented in written translation, dubbing, which involves imposing a spoken translation over speech, usually in the context of film or television, and translation for websites, which involves complex forms of interaction between experts in marketing, design, software engineering and in translation (even though more than one of these expertises may of course reside in one individual).

Part VI includes three chapters on the interaction between humans and technological tools in translational contexts, beginning with a chapter on the developments and applications of machine translation. The second chapter in this section focuses especially on commercial applications and free web-based translation providers, while the final chapter covers electronic dictionaries and more specialized termbanks, as well the storage and investigation of electronic corpora.

Finally, the two chapters in Part VII focus on the varied forms of training and education available to prospective translators and interpreters, including the prerequisites for admission to programmes and difficulties associated with assessment.

The individual chapters outline the history of their topic, and of research into it, describe the current state of the field and the present state of knowledge and contemporary thought, and where possible plot future directions in their part of the larger discipline.

In a work such as this, in which an expansive field of study is covered in separate chapters on distinctive sub-areas, there will obviously be many connections (p. 4) between chapters. We have indicated by means of cross-references where further information on a subject raised in one chapter is available in another. The attentive reader will also identify a limited amount of repetition of information across chapters, but since our volume is a reference work, we have not sought to eliminate all duplication, since similar material is needed in different contexts, and because we do not assume that our readers will necessarily read the volume from beginning to end.

It is our hope that readers will find the volume informative and that they will derive as much pleasure from it as we, as editors, have derived from reading our authors' contributions.

Kirsten Malmkjær

Kevin Windle