The Linguist

The Linguist 54,5

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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12 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 FEATURES the message in a manner that is culturally sensitive. This raises the question of how easy it would be for organisations to find professional translators in Nigeria. There are certainly opportunities to take up relevant study in the country: I found Applied Languages courses at 78 Nigerian universities, but whether this translates to professional linguists working in the required language combinations is another matter. The two translators I interviewed work into two of Nigeria's languages of wider communication. They confided that most professional translators in Nigeria work the hegemonic language pairs (e.g. French, German, Spanish and Portuguese into English) because "they prefer to seek employment in big organisations and corporations," where they can make a living. This throws some light on why online searches for professional translators from English into Nigerian languages tend to render skimpy results. Complex linguistic landscape In its Charter for African Cultural Renaissance, the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) provides that "the States will ensure the introduction of African cultural values and the universal principles of Human Rights in education, as well as in information and communication programmes". 7 The funnelling of this charter into Nigerian national legislation appears unclear, however, and until it is enforced the current status quo is likely to continue. Indeed, on the 2013 Human Development Index, Nigeria came 153 out of 187 countries and territories. 8 Communication in a multilingual environment needs to be sensitive to the fact that language goes hand-in-hand with culture. International development and emergency response staff are often faced with the challenge of deciding how to reach their target groups and establish dialogue in a manner that is proper, respectful, sensitive and effective, and this is particularly critical in multilingual (multicultural) areas. Due to the complexity of the sociolinguistic landscape, it may be best for practitioners to combine different language strategies. Efforts to progress toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (soon superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals) in countries such as Nigeria might be assisted by the promotion of communication in the local languages in a professional manner. There is an opportunity for the Nigerian Government, Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters, and the non-profit bodies operating in this country to try to encourage professional language practice for the benefit of all the parties involved. Notes 1 Pallansch, M A & Sandhu, HS (2006) 'The Eradication of Polio: Progress and challenges' in The New England Journal of Medicine, 355 (24), 2508-2511 2 Oketch, O & Banda, F (2008) 'Multilingual Discourse Practices in Community Development in Nyanza Province, Kenya' in Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Routledge/NISC, 26 (1), 1-11 3 Di Luzio, A (2003) 'Presenting John Gumperz' in Eerdmans, S L, Prevignano, C L & Thibault, P J (eds), Language and Interaction. Discussions with John J. Gumperz, Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1-6 4 The exact number is contested as it depends on the definition of language and dialect 5 6 7 Acalan (2006) 'Cultural Charter', Khartoum, Sudan, 22-24 January 2006, 8 en/home/countryinfo Websites accessed 1/9/15. With more than 500 languages, Nigeria is the third most multilingual country in the world READING MATERIALS: Unicef hands out leaflets about preventing the spread of HIV and Aids in Kenya (above and below) IMAGES: © SHUTTERSTOCK

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