The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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28 The Linguist Vol/59 No/4 2020 REVIEWS Gender-neutral language is not a subject to be taken lightly. In recent times, the Académie Française has declared that the French government's desire to promote gender-neutral spelling has placed the French language in "mortal danger", while in Spain the Real Academia Española rejected a petition by the Deputy Prime Minister earlier this year to reform the Spanish Constitution so as to make its wording more "gender inclusive". The German Language Association (VDS), for its part, recently published an open letter signed by over 100 writers and scholars calling for "an end to this gender nonsense". As Dennis Baron tells us, however, the quest for gender-neutral language is nothing new. In English, the debate goes back to the 18th century and has traditionally centred on the need to find an all-inclusive third person pronoun. It used to be customary for English grammatists to claim that the masculine 'he' could do the job by referring to both sexes, as in George Orwell's famous quip: "At 50, everyone has the face he deserves." Not surprisingly, this position has been strongly opposed, particularly in the United States, where the use of generic 'he' was exploited by legislators in the 19th century to prevent women being allowed to vote. Supporters of women's rights were quick to point out that it followed that the generic 'he' could then also be utilised in criminal law to restrict the committing of crimes solely to men. So how do we fill the gap in the sentence 'Everybody loves __ mother'? The author weighs up the alternative solutions, including both conventional pronouns and the multitude of 19th and 20th century coinages, listed in a Chronology of Gender-Neutral and Nonbinary Pronouns at the end of the book. They include 'thon', 'ze' and 'vey', bearing testimony to the author's painstaking – and ongoing – research in this area. Baron's own preference would be 'their' – a solution that goes back as far as Shakespeare but which still meets with disapproval among some stylistic sticklers. The debate has intensified further in recent times as people who identify with neither 'he' nor 'she' seek alternatives. The history of gender-neutral language parallels the general development of feminist and LGBT rights movements, as is brilliantly explained in this entertaining and instructive work. Ross Smith MCIL What's Your Pronoun? Beyond he and she Dennis Baron Liveright 2020, 304 pp; ISBN 978- 1631496042 Hardback £16.99 Translation Studies is an academic field that has developed beyond all recognition over the past 30 years. This volume of selected works by Mona Baker, who has been a key figure for much of that time, draws on her main areas of focus: corpus-based Translation Studies, translators in society and re-narration. It is interesting to see the ways in which ideas and techniques have developed over the years, exploring novel concepts and how the developing technology can be applied to a new area. The footnotes are of particular interest here as they are indicative of the manner in which thinking has developed not only on the more technical side but also bearing in mind the application of this field to translation, as shown in the chapter on investigating the style of a literary translator. Re-narration concerns how translators have to consider the impact of their work on the world. They need to be aware of sensibilities on both sides, and of the context in which a particular event is taking place and how it may be viewed from different angles. In China, for instance, the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 may be referred to in English as the Handover of Sovereignty, but the stock official phrase in Mandarin is the Return to the Motherland. This issue is of particular significance when applied to areas affected by political upheaval or military conflict and draws heavily on pragmatical thinking. The Egyptian Uprising of 2011, for example, raised several practical questions, and highlighted the vulnerability of translators and interpreters, who may be distrusted or vilified by opposing sides and find themselves in a position of serious risk. Clearly translation and interpreting have a focal role to play in conveying information, passing on news or even influencing opinion. The difficulties that arise from translating captions from television interviews are studied here in detail and go beyond the obvious issues of conveying information accurately and, where possible, objectively. There are case studies of particular episodes which demonstrate that even the placing of subtitles on the screen can have a bearing on the message being given. As the title suggests, Researching Translation in the Age of Technology and Global Conflict covers a range of critical areas that have come to the fore as Translation Studies has emerged as a mainstream area for research. This is a valuable collection of articles and essays that illustrate how these areas have developed. It will be a useful reference for advanced students and researchers. Tim Connell HonFCIL Researching Translation in the Age of Technology and Global Conflict Kyung Hye Kim & Yifan Zhu (eds.) Routledge 2020, 334 pp; ISBN 978-0367109967 Paperback £34.99 ISBN 978- 0429024221 Ebook £17.50

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