Multilingualism and translation

Reine Meylaerts

Table of contents

If we consider multilingualism as “the co-presence of two or more languages” (in a text, individual or society) while translation is traditionally defined as the “substitution of one language for another” (Grutman 2009: 182), then translation and multilingualism are inextricably connected. At the heart of multilingualism, we find translation. Surprisingly however, until recently translation and multilingualism were seldom considered in relation with each other and Grutman 2009 continues to establish a clear dichotomy between the two. The last decade though the connections between multilingualism and translation have gained scholarly attention. Recent publications cover a vast array of fields and topics – literary translation, audiovisual translation, localization, language management, community interpreting, language policy etc. – and a wide range of geographical and institutional settings – Australia, South-Africa, Nigeria, Israel, the United Nations, the EU etc. The following paragraphs will reflect upon the complex relations between translation and multilingualism at the level of texts, institutions and societies – levels which are of course fundamentally intertwined in reality.

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