The Linguist

The Linguist 53,3

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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24 The Linguist JUNE/JULY FEATURES Mustapha Taibi looks at the emerging field of public service translation and asks why it's so important In recent decades, public service interpreting has developed as a specific field of professional interpreting. Public service – or 'community' – translation, however, is still in its infancy, with the First International Conference on Community Translation being held in September 2014. So what is this emerging subfield and why is it necessary as a distinct area of translation? According to Helge Niska, community translation is 'written translation of mainly informative texts, addressed by authorities or institutions to people who do not understand texts in the language of the text producer'. In the Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies, I clarify that the materials in community translation are not only informative nor always produced by public institutions. Rather, they may be produced by a number of different social agents, including NGOs, local or ethnic community leaders, and private organisations with an interest in community welfare and development. Like public service interpreting (PSI), public service translation (PST) is a service offered at a national or local level to ensure that members of multilingual societies have access to information and active participation. One of the indicators that this area is still emerging as a subfield of Translation Studies is the different names and concepts associated with it. 'Community translation' is understood as translation for the community, preferably done by qualified translators. However, others use the term to refer to translation by the community for the community – ie, members of a community of interest translating content for each other's use, usually online. 'Public service translation' can also be used in the sense of translation relating to foreign affairs and administrative, economic and cultural relations between different countries (in Paul Bandia's entry in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, between ex-colonies and colonial powers). Interpreting parallels The parallels between PST and PSI also apply in terms of scholarly interest and training. PSI is probably the oldest form of interpreting, yet only in the mid-1990s did it start to get serious attention from researchers, trainers and scholars, many of whom had previously focused on conference interpreting (eg, Franz Pöchhacker). This is probably because conference interpreters tend to work for high- profile leaders, professionals and business people, while PSI is usually associated with low-income migrants, refugees and disempowered social or regional groups. The same may be said about PST: while 'community texts' have been translated since time immemorial, this subfield of Translation Studies has only started to emerge in the last few years. While there are a considerable number of publications on PSI, the same cannot be said about PST. Challenges for training A recent report entitled 'Training Provision for Public Service Interpreting and Translation in England', prepared for Routes into Languages by Anne Marie Graham, shows that out of 85 postgraduate programmes in interpreting, translation and related disciplines in the UK, five courses have a specific focus on PSI and only one covers PST specifically. The situation is not very different in other parts of the world. Probably as a result of the status issue, as well as the traditional classification system in Translation Studies (literary, legal, technical, audiovisual etc), PST has had little presence in the curriculum. As Graham's report points out: 'applied translation courses develop a range of skills that are relevant to any context, including PST. However, PST still requires knowledge of public service institutions and practices (eg, police, councils, hospitals) and academics report that these are rarely taught as part of a translation programme.' The few programmes covering PST specifically include the undergraduate and postgraduate interpreting and translation programmes at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia; the Master of Intercultural Communication and Public Service Interpreting and Translation at Alcala University, Spain; and the short course 'Community Translation: Principles and Practice' at the Mary Ward Centre in London. All UWS translation programmes include a course called 'Community Translation' or 'Community and Social Service Translation', Community concern

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