Ecology of translation

Michael Cronin
Table of contents

Translation throughout history has both facilitated and resulted from human activity. From the emergence of sedentary cultures to the development of trade and the spread of ideas, translation is inextricably bound up with the fortunes of human settlements. Translation owes its distinctness to difference. Communication is possible (though not always easy) between speakers of the same language. It is not possible between speakers of different languages where the languages are mutually unintelligible. Translation is necessary for communication to take place. All translation is communication but not all communication is translation. When, as a result of climate change, the very survival of human beings as a species is called into question, it is inevitable that translation as a highly complex activity practised by the species for millennia will be affected. If as David Wallace-Wells claims at the beginning of The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future, “It [climate catastrophe]is worse, much worse than you think” (2019: 3), then it is not surprising that translation scholars have begun to think about translation in the context of these radically changing circumstances.

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