A contemplation of living translation and interpreting on our doorstep

Posted on 27/11/2019 · Posted in Dialogos, Our languages, Recent news, Research

In September, one of the biggest triennial events on the global translation studies calendar took place in Stellenbosch: the ninth Congress of the European Society for Translation Studies (EST). The Language Centre was a platinum sponsor of the event, and the University’s Department of Afrikaans and Dutch did a sterling job of hosting this coming together of translation scholars from all over the world. Two Language Centre staff members presented papers at the Congress, the theme of which was ‘Living Translation: People, Processes, Products’.

Susan van Zyl-Bekker, an educational interpreter at the Language Centre, delivered a paper entitled ‘Reflective practice in educational interpreting:  Clarifying role and improving ethical decision-making skills of the educational interpreter’. In her presentation she explained that ethical decision-making during the process of educational interpreting aims to facilitate communication to establish teaching and learning in the classroom. If an interpreter cannot hear the lecturer or a student, or does not understand the relevant terminology, she must act decisively in order to establish communication. In her study investigating the demand control-schema (DC-S) of Dean and Pollard (2011) and its theoretical application on educational interpreting at SU, Susan has found that interpreters’ ethical decision-making could be impeded by role conflict. If interpreters are able to influence decision-making more in the classroom, this will mitigate the stress and cognitive load of their work. Among other things, Susan suggests that reflective practice between all relevant stakeholders involved in the interpreting programme be implemented.

Dr Kim Wallmach, Director of the Language Centre, and her co-presenter, sign language interpreter Petri du Toit, used a variety of images as a way of offering special insights into the place of South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreters in the history of the Deaf community since South Africa’s democratic transition in 1994. Their pictorial review focused on interpreters who were in the public eye, and therefore shaped public opinion about sign language interpreters working in professional contexts such as parliament, the media and conferences. In their paper, entitled ‘Framing South African Sign Language interpreting: Pictorial representations of SASL interpreters from 1994 to 2019’, they explored a number of events involving sign language interpreters to gain an understanding of how the visual turn is now playing out in social media in South Africa. They asked whether sign language interpreters understand what it means to be literally in the public eye, and reflected on how this increased visibility might affect the public’s expectations of the role of the interpreter.

Delegates seem to have enjoyed the first EST Congress on African soil. For the next one, translation scholars will be heading north once again: It was announced that the 2022 congress will be hosted by the Oslo Metropolitan University in Norway.

As a platinum sponsor of the EST Congress, the Language Centre got to add a complementary water bottle and some brochures to delegates’ conference bags.