Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Anthony Pym vs interpreting

September 18th, 2005

well, he‘s not totally against it, but he’s definitely for curtailing it. His hard-hitting critique says much (blurring the terms translation and intepretation), including a call
“to go beyond the logic inscribed in the discourse of translation. If one is to believe in translation, in the people who support and live from translations, translation is always necessary and that’s the end of the story. But if one begins by looking at interlingual space, the only real question is how we ever came to believe in translation so much. How did we ever get to this ideal “usage de toutes les langues” and the associated theories?
Several reasons:
First, there is a wide gap between the official discourse and what actually happens on the ground. Despite claims to respect multilingualism through translation, the European Commission deploys what is called a “real needs policy”, which basically incorporates use of a lingua franca or the use of passive competences wherever possible, as happened in the French-English conference cited above. This tends to mean that the more specialized the meetings, the less there are interpreters present. The official discourse on translation is thus largely produced for external consumption, to keep the masses and academics happy.
Second, because the official discourse exists, many translations are carried out for purely symbolic purposes.”

Further, he describes a recent situation and the regime operating there along with its social norms:
“In practice, European multilingualism in a specific domain meant a restriction to two languages, and two is often pragmatically reduced to one.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not particularly upset that there were no interpreters feeding my words into a dozen or so languages at that conference. I simply wanted to point out that the practical alternative to translation was a local language policy, a restriction to two, and a supposition that the conference participants knew enough of two to make do. I spoke goddam awful French and trusted the French could follow me; others spoke English and hoped for the same; and communication proceeded, as much as it merited to do so, largely thanks to the preselection of participants willing and able to negotiate the vicissitudes of bilingual exchange. This was indeed a practical and effective regime, none the least because the added cost of interpreting services would have meant that I, along with any other unsubsidized soul, could not have afforded to attend. Translation is expensive and often unnecessary; nontranslation is cheap and can be effective. Yet this concerns more than efficiency.”

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Categories: Interpreting, research sources
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One Response to “Anthony Pym vs interpreting”

  1. steph says:

    The link is to Transferre non semper necesse est , “in which it is argued that there is too much translation in Europe, that effective integration depends on degrees of nontranslated communication, and that an exclusive focus on translation seriously obscures our vision of a unified future.”

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