The translation challenges of INGOs
Professional and non-professional translation at Amnesty International
In the current climate where the legitimacy of Western-based international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is increasingly put under pressure, some NGOs have started to change their approach to translation, often as a consequence of structural changes within the organisation. This article focuses on the translation challenges of one such organisation, namely Amnesty International, and how it has aimed to deal with these. Drawing on ethnographic data, it describes the mission of Amnesty’s Language Resource Centre, which aims to support translation at Amnesty into a variety of languages. The article reveals some of the tensions between the use of professional translators, particularly for languages such as French, Spanish and Arabic, and the continued reliance of smaller Amnesty offices on volunteer translators. It demonstrates that despite the trend towards professionalisation, volunteer translation continues to represent a significant portion of Amnesty’s translation work.
Keywords: institutional translation, volunteer translation, NGOs, academic-NGO collaboration, linguistic ethnography, translation policy
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