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231 TRANSLATION TODAY: A GLOBAL VIEW Cay Dollerup, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Introduction Arne Zettersten, to whom this publication is devoted, has been one of the pioneers in the study of varieties
231 TRANSLATION TODAY: A GLOBAL VIEW Cay Dollerup, University of Copenhagen, Denmark Introduction Arne Zettersten, to whom this publication is devoted, has been one of the pioneers in the study of varieties of English in the world thus adding a global dimension to English Studies. Today's global view of English cannot avoid to take into account the central role of English in translation work and, at the same time, to note that the shift in focus from the Western world to the global stage also changes the emphasis in Translation Studies. Translation has always been international, but this article will address mostly the remarkable changes that have occurred in the fields of practical translation, theoretical Translation Studies, and the interplay between theory and practice with special emphasis on the seachanges since The first major changes in the field are traced back to the beginning of the 20 th century, and the article describes the new modes of transfer, their specific constraints and geographical placements. The article then turns towards developments that have become particularly visible or even only introduced within the last decade, such as large-scale useful translation memories, Internet translation, and the introduction of computers at all levels of language work at the European Union institutions. These factors call for new models for the description of translation and the acceptance that target-language texts are not always subordinate to the sourcelanguage texts, the 'originals'. Until the 20 th century Translation is a transfer of linguistic messages from one language to another. Accordingly, interpreting must be the oldest form of translation, 232 Nordic Journal of English Studies since it has existed ever since the first contacts between humans speaking different languages. It is depicted in Egyptian tombs. Translation in the traditional form presupposes the existence of two written languages and is therefore less than 10,000 years old. Before the 20 th century there was only a limited number of modes of translation: Consecutive interpreting is an oral rendition in the target language of utterances spoken in the source language. Depending on the competence of the individual interpreter (e.g. talent, short-term memory, and notetaking techniques), the rendition may span from a few words to longer segments of speech. On some occasions, seasoned 'interpreters' may even have delivered 'whispered interpreting' which is nearly simultaneous with the original utterances. Nowadays this is often done by interpreters standing discreetly behind the addressees, at least at high-level political and expert meetings. Translation (written to written) has been practised in international politics in the broad sense of the word for treaties, agreements, and dictates. In Europe up to the Middle Ages, it was often practised by means of or in combination with a major language or a 'lingua franca' such as Latin. International trade has called for translation between 'minor' as well as 'major' languages. The kind of translation activity which is best documented and therefore most heatedly debated is that of elitist documents, such as literature and, most importantly, religion. It is quite thoughtprovoking that two of the world's largest religions are based on translation: Buddhist sutras were originally written in Sanskrit and were translated into Chinese (from c AD 150 to c AD 1100), and Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who spoke Aramaic. The Aramaic 'original^)' are not extant, but have been interpreted and translated from c AD 50 to the present day from Latin, Greek and Hebrew - and even English versions. Worlds of Words-A tribute to Arne Zettersten 233 Prima vista, in which written 'originals' are spoken out in the target language, has probably also occurred when some superior has unexpectedly requested information about what was written in a foreign language, but in the nature of things, we do not know. And, finally, there have been a few cases in which translation has been accompanied by a 'pictorial side', say, in the relatively few drama translations that we find between European languages. From my relatively superficial knowledge of such translations in Europe, I believe that these texts have been adapted rather than what is nowadays considered 'translated' - often because the translators' foreign-language mastery was not really up to the task. It must also be noted that in the vast majority of cases, translation involved only two languages, one 'binary pair'. The 20 th century At the beginning of the 20 th century, with the introduction of silent movies, pictures alternated with intertexts. They identified for instance settings (such as 'In Los Angeles' and 'Meanwhile, in the mountains'), rendered utterances ('What are you doing?' and T feel sick') and were a prerequisite for understanding the action of the film. When films were exported, these intertexts therefore had to be translated from writing to writing. The introduction of talking films (1927), where the utterances are heard simultaneously with the action, added new modes of linguistic transfer: One of these was synchronisation or dubbing, in which the original is provided with a target-language dialogue. This is sometimes done from the written scripts, but these are often unreliable, which means that most professionals prefer to listen to actual speech in movies and the like. The transfer is thus (ideally) from oral source texts to a hopefully idiomatic, 234 Nordic Journal of English Studies written translation (which is subsequently spoken by actors and recorded for target audiences in countries importing the film). Another mode primarily connected with the importation of foreign films is subtitling in which the dialogue of the original is retained in the film's soundtrack and the contents transferred to target-language writing, usually in a form that calls for some shortening ('condensation') when conducted between Indo-European languages. 1 A third mode found in films is voice-over. In voice-over, the original speaker is either muted or removed and instead there is a voice (of an actor or announcer) rendering the speech or dialogue in the target language. In films and television serials, there are sometimes two voices, namely a man and a woman representing male and female characters respectively. In either case, the translator will work either from written or spoken 'originals' and render them in writing for the persons speaking the lines when the film or documentary is released. The 20 th century also saw the introduction large-scale of simultaneous interpreting. In simultaneous conference interpreting, participants at international meetings speak into microphones linked to the interpreters' booths. The interpreters render the speeches they hear into the target language so that the addressees get the information in a language they understand. This mode was first used in 1929, and it had its international breakthrough at the Nuremberg war crime tribunals in 1945 against the Nazi leaders of Adolf Hitler's Germany. We may illustrate this procedure with the example of a delegate addressing an international gathering without a manuscript as shown in illustration 1 and, in honour of Arne Zettersten, we shall make this delegate a Swede. Worlds of Words-A tribute to Arne Zettersten 235 Illustration 1 Swedish delegate addressing an English-speaking audience by means of simultaneous interpreting (ideal): 1. A Swedish delegate speaks in Swedish: A, b, c, d, etc. Swedish interpreters' booth: 4. The Swedish delegates hear the answer m^wedish: X, y, z, etc. /^v. 1 / 2 The English delegates listen/fo the Swedish message in English: / A, b, c, á, etc. / Interpreters who understand English and render the English speech into Swedish as they hear it (a, b, c, d, etc.) English interpreters' booth: Interpreters who understand Swedish and render the Swedish speech into English as they hear it (a, b, c, d, etc.) 3. An English delegate answers in English: X, y, z, etc. Explanatory remarks In the figure, a Swedish delegate makes a number of points. In order to make sure that the points are getting across, there are at least two professional interpreters in the English booth'. English is their mother tongue, but their understanding of Swedish is 'perfect'. The moment the speaker has uttered enough for the interpreters to get their bearings, they start interpreting into English. This they do into microphones. The English delegation listens to this rendition by means of earphones (which also cut out the Swedish original in order to make for total clarity of the message uttered). After the Swedish speech is over, an English delegate takes the floor and begins to answer. The English speech is then rendered into Swedish by the Swedish booth (interpreters), and the Swedish delegate can then continue the dialogue with the English delegate. 236 Nordic Journal of English Studies The form thus introduces near-simultaneity between the 'original' and the translational product. The rendition is oral to oral. There are other forms of simultaneous interpreting: there is often simultaneous interpreting at international press conferences, and in some countries, such as Austria, news programmes use media interpreting, showing e.g. British footage but providing simultaneous interpreting. In the West, operas have since the 1980s increasingly been sung in the original language (that is, mostly Italian, German, or Russian). In these cases a translation is displayed above and occasionally on the side of the stage. This involves not only a translation of the original written script into a written translation, but the translator also has to see to it that the correct segments of translation are shown at the appropriate times. In other words, today there is also opera translation. Let me add that there are numerous other types. There are software systems with speech recognition which will write the text spoken by a translator (with whose voice the program is familiar) into a microphone; in other words a kind of updated prima vista. In other cases, special modes appear for some time and then disappear again, such as simultaneous subtitling, done on the basis of soundtracks and then made to appear as words (or, rather, syllables) typed by translator-typists for deaf people. And in South Africa you may watch and English-language film on television, turn off the sound on the telly and instead hear the speech and sound on the radio. Some modes of linguistic transfer are confined to special areas: voiceover is employed for documentaries and children's programmes in virtually all countries and for films in relatively poor countries (notably many countries in the former Soviet Union in the years after its dissolution). Subtitling is found in countries in which a large part of the population is literate (China), and in small nations where the audience will never be large enough to bear the cost involved in synchronisation (Denmark, Worlds of Words -A tribute to Arne Zettersten 237 Norway, and Sweden, all with less than 8 million inhabitants), for films appealing to 'small' audiences (German serials broadcast at night in Great Britain, European films screened for intellectuals in Buenos Aires, Argentina, etc.). Religious interpreting which is a 'no-no' for European interpreters has been - and may still be - practiced in Singapore. Institutionalised translation The Chinese translation of the Buddhist sutras is among the first known instances of institutionalised translation. These translations were undertaken over a period of more than 900 years. Among others were the Arabic centres of translation in the city of Baghdad (in present-day Iraq in the ninth and tenth centuries) and in present-day Spain (mostly in Toledo in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries). Paradoxically, these Arabic translation activities saved many of the central works of Greek and Roman antiquity as well as much Arabic scholarship for the European renaissance (c AD 1400). The first well-documented truly multilingual political meeting in Europe was the so-called 'Congress of Vienna' ( ) where more than 200 European rulers or their delegates met in the capital of Austria to determine European borderlines after the Napoleonic Wars. There were repeat performances in the course of World War 1 and at war tribunals after World War 2. Today, there are many international organisations that have several official languages: the United Nations, the international political forum for independent nations in the world, uses English for internal work but issues political statements simultaneously in its six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The language work is done by a permanent staff of c 450 translators and 150 interpreters in addition to free-lancers. The largest professional staff of translators is found at the European Union institutions. They tie together fifteen European countries by means of translation from and into the eleven official Ian- 238 Nordic Journal of English Studies guages, a number which is due to increase. These institutions have a staff of nearly 1,000 interpreters and 3,000 translators and terminologists. Minority languages At the same time there has also, both nationally and internationally, been growing awareness of minorities' right to have their own language even within major nations. China has a long and respectable history of accepting the languages of minorities. In Europe, Switzerland has always accepted four languages among its citizens (French, German, and Italian and Raetoroman). The modern European nation states were created in tumultuous processes lasting one hundred years or more after the Napoleonic wars (which came to an end in 1815). The nation states have often had difficulties in accepting minority languages: Official Spain only accepted the minority languages of some of its regions within the last twenty years and Latvia, liberated from the Soviet Union in 1991, only accepted the rights of its 40% Russian minority a few years ago. So the process of acceptance of small languages is slowly but surely gaining ground. In the US, the 'cradle of democracy' which prides itself on its human rights, it is only within the last decades that everybody on trial in a court of law has obtained the right to be present not only physically but also linguistically (by means of translators and interpreters). However, the recognition of minority languages is an ongoing process - it has not and will not happen overnight. It is related to simple things such as the general welfare of a society: only societies that are no longer involved in bitter fights for survival can allow themselves the luxury of tolerance. Minor and major languages It is even more interesting that the division between major and minor languages is getting blurred: when six European nations laid the founda- Worlds of Words-A tribute to Arne Zettersten 239 tion stones for the European Union in 1957, Italian and Dutch both became 'official languages', but most negotiations and daily work was conducted only in German and French. When Denmark (5.2 million inhabitants) and the UK entered in 1973, the tables were all of sudden turned as the Danes demanded 'equal rights' - and eventually got some concessions. At that stage Denmark itself had accepted that its own linguistic minorities in the North Atlantic, the Faeroe Islands (44,000 inhabitants) and Greenland (56,000 inhabitants) should have near-autonomous status and their own parliaments for local affairs. The world domination of English as 'lingua franca' should also be taken with a large grain of salt: far from all people who claim to speak 'English' are understandable to most other speakers of English, native as well as non-native. We are seeing a segmentation of 'English'. I predict that there will be a 'world English of top speakers and teachers of Received Standard English' or, in the US, a 'world American'. These branch out into national varieties of Australian, New Zealand, and South African English, all of which have an identity of their own but are spoken by many or even most inhabitants in these countries. Then there are countries in which English is used for business purposes between people of the same 'nationality': Nigeria comprises more than 100 indigenous languages. South Africa has eleven official languages and, in addition, numerous 'heritage languages' which are the first languages spoken by people (at home and in families). Experts in various fields communicate internationally at conferences, in journals, and on the Internet in some variety of English which is often opaque to outsiders but which has become the acknowledged standard in their respective fields: the essential message is encoded in equations, drawings, sketches and the like, rather than idiomatic and syntactically correct 'English'. 240 Nordic Journal of English Studies We will therefore not be faced with one 'world-english' but with a very large number of 'regional Englishes' as second languages as well as social and educational segmentations of these types of English. Experts will use types of English that differ from those of tourists, and so on. In other contexts, most obviously international politics, industry, and business, the top politicians and executives will have to depend on the services of linguistic middlemen whose foreign language and cultural competence is tops: There will be an explosion in the number of translators, interpreters, subtitlers, surtitlers and the like in the globalised world of tomorrow. The national languages and even minority languages will not be replaced by a world English in the foreseeable future. There are clear indications that the small languages are hitting back: whereas English was the dominant language on the Internet in terms of web sites, home pages and the like in the beginning of the 1990s, the latest figures show that it is now down to 40% of the number of accessible home pages - and the number of 'English only' home pages is declining rapidly as the number of pages in other languages, national as well as those of minorities, is increasing (The figures released on the Internet by e.g. Systran should be viewed with considerable skepticism). The last decade of the 20 th century The most momentous and sudden changes in the world of translation and interpreting took place in the last decade of the 20 th century. The 'machine translation systems' came of age, and developed in ways that could be put to practical use around The large-scale use of computers (and the complementary electronic tools including translation memories) by all the 3,000 translators and some of the nearly 1,000 interpreters at the European Union institutions meant that enormous corpora of translations became available to language professionals at the EU institutions. Worlds of Words -A tribute to Arne Zettersten 241 Finally, machine translation took to the Internet in 1997 and 1998 (first in Babelfish and then Systran itself). The changes are daunting. Teamwork These changes can probably best be described by two key terms: recycling and teamwork. These were unquestioned parts of the Chinese way of life until the advent of Western traders and continue to this day: Thus the Works of Chairman Mao Tsetung were translated by a large team of translators. Teamwork and recycling were rarely key words in the Western world in its development in the last five hundred years. There is now a dawning comprehension, notably in politics and education that groups of people may share loyalties and can work together as equals, recognising differences in ability, competence, and knowledge. Teamwork has been known for half a century in a few translation agencies in the West, but in general it has been slow to seep down in professional translation circles in the West where - until
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