[New publication] HERMES: Journal of Language and Communication in Business, No.58

HERMES: Journal of Language and Communication in Business, No.58
Thematic section: Translation Profession, Translator Status and Identity

Boundaries Around, Boundaries Within: Introduction to the Thematic Section on the Translation Profession, Translator Status and Identity
Elin Svahn, Minna Ruokonen and Leena Salmi
Abstract: The articles in this thematic section all address questions concerning the translation profession, translator status and identity in ways that are associated with the concept of boundaries. The articles are based on presentations held at a panel on translator status and identity during the 8th Congress of the European Society for Translation Studies (EST), organised at Aarhus University, in September 2016. The panel and the present thematic section comprise a continuation of the discussion of these themes in the previous EST Congress and in the thematic issue of The Journal of Specialised Translation titled “The translation profession: centres and peripheries” (2016), edited by Helle Vrønning Dam and Kaisa Koskinen. In this introduction, we first discuss the concept of boundaries around and within the translation profession as introduced by Dam/Koskinen in the above-mentioned thematic issue. Next, as all the articles in this thematic section represent sociological research into translation and translators, we draw attention to boundary work within the discipline of Translation Studies; building on Andrew Chesterman’s (2006, 2009) map of Translator Studies, we propose a continuum of Sociological vs. Cultural Translator Studies. Finally, we introduce the articles, considering the kinds of boundaries they explore and where they are placed on the continuum.

Through Women’s Eyes. Conference Interpreters’ Self-Perceived Status in a Gendered Perspective
Paola Gentile
Abstract: This paper aims to analyse the differences between female and male conference interpreters’ self-perceived status. Several studies (Angelelli 2004; Katan 2011; Zwischenberger 2011) indicate that women make up most of the professionals working in the translational professions, but little academic attention has been devoted to the question as to whether female and male interpreters have different attitudes towards their profession and their self-perceived status. Sociological studies on feminised professions suggest that women are generally underestimated in the workplace, which leads to them to perceive their status as lower compared to their male colleagues (Cortina/San Román 2006). To test whether this phenomenon was experienced by conference interpreters as well, the responses of a world survey (n = 805) were analysed, with a special focus on interpreters’ self-perception of the status, prestige and social value of their profession. The results showed that, when asked to evaluate their self-perceived status, there were hardly any differences between the scores obtained by female and male interpreters. However, major differences emerged when men and women expressed their opinions on the way they think their work is seen by laypeople, showing that female interpreters perceive their status as far lower than their male counterparts do.

Solidity and Professionalization of Translation: Turkey as a Case in Point
Volga Yılmaz-Gümüş
Abstract: This study sets out to describe the state of the translation (not interpreting) profession in Turkey, approached by means of indicators based on professionalization (university-based translator training, legal instruments introduced to regulate the market, and professional associations) and solidity of the profession (proportion of men vs. women, translation graduates working as translators, freelance vs. in-house translators, and commitment to the profession). The indicators are investigated by analyzing documents (such as Regulation on the Public Notary, the National Occupational Standards for translators and interpreters, and the Prime Ministry’s report on the translation profession in Turkey), as well as survey and interview data gathered from the graduates of university translation programs, representing freelancers, in-house translators, and language teachers. The increasing number of university-based translation programs, legal instruments and translator associations suggests that continuous attempts have been made to enhance the degree of professionalization in translation. On the other hand, quantitative analyses of a survey administered to translation graduates indicate that the proportion of female translators is overwhelmingly high, that graduates tend to work as freelance translators, but freelancing is mostly not their main role, and that the graduates mostly have a positive perception of training, but do not feel prepared to enter the market after graduation. The findings of document and empirical analyses show that all traits of an established profession are still not present in translation while significant steps have been taken on the way to solidity and professionalization.

To Protect or Not to Protect: Finnish Translators’ Perceptions on Translator Status and Authorisation
Minna Ruokonen
Abstract: In most countries, there are no restrictions on who is allowed to work as a translator, apart from the context of legally valid or authorised translations. Nevertheless, the significance of authorisation for translator status has hardly been studied, apart from Dam/Zethsen (2009, 2010). This article investigates how authorisation affects Finnish translators’ status perceptions, and whether they believe that the profession should be protected further, and if so, how and why. The data come from a survey conducted in 2014 with 450 respondents (business, literary and audio-visual translators), based on Dam/Zethsen’s questionnaires and expanded and adapted for the Finnish context. The analysis is partly quantitative and statistical, partly a qualitative thematic analysis of the respondents’ open comments. Statistically, authorisation produced no significant differences in the respondents’ status perceptions. Similarly, in open questions on factors affecting translator status and measures that should be taken, few respondents mentioned authorisation or other professional boundaries. Nevertheless, when asked whether the profession should be protected, almost 60% of the respondents, particularly business translators who had attended translator training, advocated some form of protection, although they also emphasised that there should be flexibility to allow for translators with different backgrounds. The respondents were also more prone to call for protection if they held authorisation themselves, which may suggest that they feel authorisation does carry some value.

Negotiating the Boundaries of Professional Subtitling. The Case of Finnish Subtitlers and Their Online Community
Tiina Tuominen
Abstract: In recent years, the Finnish subtitling field has undergone significant changes, which have caused instability in subtitlers’ working conditions. Subtitlers have responded to these changes by working together towards a more unified professional community. One important means in these efforts has been an active online presence consisting of, among other things, a website and a blog. The subtitlers’ online presence could be characterised as an element of a “professional project” (Tyulenev 2014: 68–69), an attempt to institutionalise the profession and to search for social recognition. One aspect of a professional project is to draw the boundaries of the profession and to determine criteria for acceptance into the professional community. The definition of professional boundaries is a recurrent theme on the Finnish subtitlers’ website and blog. The subtitlers’ case therefore provides an enlightening example of how a heterogeneous professional field can attempt to improve its standing by determining its own boundaries. This article will explore how Finnish subtitlers define the boundaries of their profession on their website and blog, what criteria they present for inclusion in their professional community, and how exclusion from the community is expressed. The analysis will demonstrate that a number of professional practices, such as adherence to local subtitling traditions, are used as a way of determining the behaviour of a professional subtitler. As a consequence, the definition of professional boundaries emerges as a central argument in the subtitlers’ professional project, becoming a strategy for unifying the subtitlers’ community and advocating for a more stable status.

Regarding Symbolic Capital: Poetry Translators from Modern Greek into English
Nadia Georgiou
Abstract: The research object of this study is the symbolic capital of poetry translators and how it shapes and is being shaped by the current practices and self-descriptions of translators of Modern Greek poetry into English. A number of case studies indicate that people who translate poetry come from a variety of backgrounds, including those of a poet and an academic, which often do not include any formal translation training (Hofstadter 1997; Waldinger 2003; Bullock 2011; Isaxanli 2014). It also appears to be common that translators of poetry have a number of complementary roles, with that of ‘poetry translator’ not always central. The study draws on data consisting of Modern Greek into English poetry translators’ responses to a survey, of paratexts created by Modern Greek into English translators and of ten interviews. Cultural and educational capitals are examined in their institutionalized, objectified and embodied form as bearers of symbolic capital. Three overlapping categories are explored: the translators’ connection to poetry and the source culture, translator education and translator self-description. The translators’ “extratextual visibility” (Koskinen 2000 as cited in Chesterman 2018: 446) is also analyzed as it forms part of the translators’ embodied cultural and symbolic capital. This empirical exploration offers insights into the variety of attitudes and approaches to poetry translation; the emerging patterns map out profiles of a group of contemporary poetry translators, investigate the realities of the craft and re-position poetry translation practitioners with respect to other translation professionals.

When the Translator Does More than Translate: A Case Study of Translator Roles in a Digital Publishing Initiative
Maialen Marin-Lacarta, Mireia Vargas-Urpi
Abstract: Recent technological changes have affected translators’ professional boundaries and status. However, scant attention has been paid to the new opportunities that have been created for professional literary translators. Our research focuses on ¡Hjckrrh!, a de facto non-profit self-publishing initiative led by three professional translators who are involved in the publishing of literary translations in ebook format – they share the same professional expertise, but assume different roles in the initiative. An ethnography-inspired qualitative method has been adopted by the researchers. This paper is based on fourteen interviews with participants who have collaborated with ¡Hjckrrh!, comprising eleven translators (including the three founding members of ¡Hjckrrh!), two proofreaders and a graphic designer. The paper aims at studying translators’ roles, production teams and relationships, and pays special attention to the agency and visibility of translators. Our findings show that technology has had a positive impact on translator agency, status and identity among the founding members and collaborators of ¡Hjckrrh!. These translators have used the shifting professional boundaries and technological advances to develop their roles as cultural mediators. The article describes the work of the translators who collaborate in this digital initiative and discusses the ways they relate to each other, the roles they play and how they cross professional boundaries. The conclusions identify the relationships and opportunities created by this new work environment.

Translator Profile in the Discourse around Translation: Promotion and Reception of the English Translations of the Fiction of Bruno Schulz
Zofia Ziemann
Abstract: The paper discusses the role of (perceived) translator profile in the current promotion and reception of three competing English translations of fiction by the modernist Polish-Jewish author Bruno Schulz (1892–1942): Celina Wieniewska’s 1963/1978 canonical version, John Curran Davis’s ca. 2005–2010 online fan retranslation, and Madeline Levine’s retranslation, publicized since 2012 and forthcoming in 2018. Based on a para- and extratextual analysis of the discourse around these versions, combined with archive research into translator history, it explores the ways in which the translator’s profile is used to promote the translation and develop or support opinions about it. Wieniewska’s personal background, difficult to access due to the invisibility of the ‘historical’ translator, has been ignored by readers and critics, even though it would help understand her choice of translation strategy and thus make the recent criticism of her translation more informed. Conversely, in the case of Davis and Levine, not only are the retranslators visible to the extent that they actively promote their work themselves, but also judgments are passed, boundaries drawn and distinctions made based on their profiles rather than their performance: their work has been assessed to a large extent without reference to their actual translation choices. The retranslators’ lives – educational background, affiliation, professional experience – all turn out to play a major role in the critical discourse around their work, replacing the reading or, in the extreme case of Levine’s yet unpublished translation, even the very existence of the translated text.

More information is available at: https://tidsskrift.dk/her/issue/view/7564