Translator associations—from gatekeepers to communities

Anthony Pym
Universitat Rovira i Virgili / Stellenbosch University

Abstract

Analysis of 217 associations for translators and/or interpreters shows that, after the heroic age of the generalist national and international groupings in the 1950s and 1960s, there has been a progressive specialization of associations. In rough chronological order, separate institutions have been created for literary translators, sworn/authorized translators and interpreters, conference interpreters, public-service interpreters and audiovisual translators. This process might be seen as a division of labor, a normal result of increasing memberships. Analysis of the communication strategies employed by the associations nevertheless suggests that there has been a profound shift in their very nature: from a model where the association ideally vouches for the professional trustworthiness of several thousands of members, thus implicitly speaking to clients and other professions, we find a tendency toward communication patterns where the association becomes a place for social, pedagogical and political action between its members. The greater density and plexity of the interactions means that the newer associations involve smaller groups of people, selected on the basis of either professional specialization or geographical proximity. Similar interactive models are found in online marketplaces for translations and in communities of volunteer translators, which prove to be innovative not only in promoting interactive communication but also in inventing new ways of signaling translators’ trustworthiness. A way forward for the traditional associations might be to adapt some of the communication strategies operative in the electronic marketplaces and among volunteers.

Keywords
Table of contents

Calls for a sociology of translation have so far remained remarkably impervious to one of the most basic units of social organization: the formation of public associations. Associations would nevertheless seem extremely pertinent to translators and interpreters as an occupational group. As translators seek to create, affirm or [ p. 467 ]modify their collective identity and interests, one of the main things they do is join forces within a legal framework of some kind. The development of social market economies since the mid-nineteenth century has accompanied several kinds of professional associations, ranging from the trade union through to the learned society, and carrying out a very wide range of functions, from the protection of collective salary levels to the vetting of professional membership. In the field of translation (here taken to include interpreting), this range of forms and functions is very much in evidence. The aim of this paper is to map out the basic forms of what I will call “translator associations,” and to propose a general model of their historical development.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

Appadurai, Arjun
1996Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Brown, Sara A.
2001 “Do Interpreters Translate? Results of an E-mail Survey of AIIC Members to Determine If Interpreters Also Work as Translators.” Consortium for Training Translation Teachers: http://​isg​.urv​.es​/cttt​/cttt​/research​/browncorrected​.pdf. Accessed July 2011.
Chan, Andy J.
2008Information Economics, the Translation Profession and Translator Certification. PhD diss. Intercultural Studies Group, Universitat Rovira i Virgili. http://​www​.tdx​.cat​/bitstream​/handle​/10803​/8772​/Chan​.pdf. Accessed April 2013.Google Scholar
Fisher, Eran
2010Media and New Capitalism in the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Fock, Holger, Martin de Haan, and Alena Lhotová
2008Comparative Income of Literary Translators in Europe. Brussels: Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires. http://​www​.ceatl​.eu​/docs​/surveyuk​.pdf. Accessed April 2012.Google Scholar
McDonough, Julie
2007“How Do Language Professionals Organize Themselves? An Overview of Translation Networks.” Meta 52 (4): 793–815. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Morley, David
2007Media, Modernity and Technology. The Geography of the New. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Orrego-Carmona, David
2011The Empirical Study of Non-professional Subtitling. Minor dissertation, Universitat Rovira i Virgili. http://​isg​.urv​.es​/publicity​/doctorate​/research​/documents​/Orrego​/orrego​_minor​_dissertation​.pdf. Accessed April 2013.Google Scholar
2012 “Internal Structures and Workflows in Collaborative Subtitling.” Paper delivered to the First International Conference on Non-professional Interpreting and Translation. Università di Bologna, May 17-19. http://​isg​.urv​.es​/publicity​/doctorate​/research​/documents​/Orrego​/Orrego​-Carmona​_Structures​-Workflows​_NPIT1​.pdf. Accessed April 2013.
Oyarzun, Teresa
Undated. “Our History - AIIC in Spain: A Conversation with Teresa Oyarzun.” http://​aiic​.net​/page​/3265​/our​-history​-aiic​-in​-spain​-a​-conversation​-with​-teresa​-oyarzun​/lang​/1. Accessed March 2013.
Pym, Anthony, et al.
2012The Status of the Translation Profession in the European Union. http://​ec​.europa​.eu​/dgs​/translation​/publications​/studies​/translation​_profession​_en​.pdf. Accessed March 2013.Google Scholar
Sainz, María Julia
1993“The Role of Translation in Uruguay.” Language International 5 (6): 32–34.Google Scholar
Tönnies, Ferdinand
1887/2001Community and Civil Society. Edited by Jose Harris. Translated by Jose Harris, and Margaret Hollis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar