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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26 The Linguist Vol/54 No/5 2015 FEATURES C ollaboration has become a buzzword in translation circles of late. Discussions usually centre on recent technological advances and the expanded potential for collaborative translation they afford, though every translator does, of course, know that collaborating not just with other translators but also with authors, clients, project managers, editors, and myriad other (both human and textual) stakeholders in the translation process is anything but a recent phenomenon. Is there, then, an argument to be made about translation being an intrinsically collaborative endeavour? This question formed the starting point of a conversation that a group of academics at the University of Westminster began 18 months ago. What was remarkable was that it was colleagues from outside Translation Studies who seemed most keen to get the conversation going. Translators are, of course, used to working – and indeed collaborating – across all sorts of subject areas, but we are less used to such transdisciplinary interest being reciprocal. Why, then, were colleagues from as far afield as Law and Business beating a path to the Translation Studies' door? Recent academic funding schemes centring on expanded notions of 'translation', such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Translating Cultures theme, now in its third year, undoubtedly provide part of the explanation. However, something bigger and more substantial seems to be afoot in Social Sciences, Humanities and beyond. Translation has become an increasingly widely used metaphor within and across disciplines to describe, broadly, the processes by which knowledge is generated, shared and applied. As Cornelia Zwischenberger explained in her talk at our recent one-day 'Translation as Collaboration: Translaboration?' symposium, the term 'translation' in academic discourse now variously serves as a tool for the cultural analysis of movements and migration between disparate social worlds; 1 as a concept employed in anthropology and ethnography for making narratives gained through field work and pertaining to a particular cultural context intelligible to another cultural context; 2 or, in organisation theory, as a model to explain and account for organisational change. 3 For both practising translators and translation scholars, this is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, there is reason to rejoice in the fact that Translation Studies' call for an interdisciplinary pooling of resources, 4 both institutionally and intellectually, is finally being heeded. On the other hand, translators will be acutely aware of the erosive potential of 'translation' as an increasingly loose metaphor for change, travel and shape- shifting – indeed, as a metaphor for metaphoricity itself. Such loose translation talk is perceived to threaten the linguistically, institutionally and technically anchored specificities of translation. Harish Trivedi even goes as far as diagnosing "an urgent need perhaps to protect and preserve some little space… for some old and old-fashioned literary translation", warning that "if such bilingual bicultural ground is eroded away… [translation] would have come under erasure… and the value it Transcending boundaries Can 'translaboration' lead to greater interdisciplinary research and do we need it, asks Alexa Alfer The 'Translation as Collaboration: Translaboration?' symposium on 18 June was the first public event organised by the Translaborate group. It brought together a wide and deliberately eclectic range of speakers and delegates, and was conceived as a microcosm of translaboration in action. We wanted to provide an opportunity for colleagues across disciplines, including translators, scholars, action and change researchers, and development and management professionals, to explore the strengths and weaknesses of emphasising collaboration not only as inherent in all translational activity, but also as a potential linchpin upon which translational action rests or, indeed, turns. Surprising synergies were unearthed during talks on such diverse topics as the translaborative characteristics of technical writing; and collaborative volunteer translation challenging hegemonic discourses in present-day Iran. A panel on collaboration in literary translation concluded the day. Robert Chandler talked about translating Andrei Platonov's short story 'Among Animals and Plants' with Russian-American scholar Olga Meerson, and uncovering a deeply buried subtext about the first of Stalin's vast slave-labour projects. Marco Sonzogni, Seamus Heaney's Italian translator, gave a vivid account of the collaborative space he came to inhabit with Heaney. Ros Schwartz, talking about several collaborative translation projects she has been involved in, called collaboration the most fruitful form of continuous professional development – a statement that resonated with delegates from both industry and academia. Translaboration symposium

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