Ethics and professional codes of practice for translators and interpreters: new contexts in the profession and training

16-17 September 2021

Faculty of Translation and Interpretation, University of Granada, Granada, Spain

Proposal deadlines:

Advance: 14 March 2021
Early: 14 May 2021
Regular: 14 June 2021
Late: 14 July 2021


The Professional Ethics of Translators and Interpreters in Times of Pandemic: Profession, Training, and Research.

Before the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the urgent need for ethical reflection in Translation and Interpreting Studies was justified by the inequalities and tensions in commercial practices stemming from globalization (Cronin 2003, Dollerup 2008). Another justification was the sweeping transformation of the global translation market triggered by the digital revolution and new modes of cultural consumption (Drugan 2013). Also important was the continuing lack of job security in many professional activities involving translation and interpreting.

The magnitude and velocity of the changes that we are currently facing at the global level in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have been gradually taking shape during the months of confinement. Numerous experts in different fields ranging from Healthcare and Psychology to Economics and Technology are endeavoring to anticipate the future that awaits us. Their predictions are often laced with radical dichotomies such as civilization versus barbarism, technological progress versus dehumanization, and digital surveillance versus critical consciousness. The polarized world presented to us is one that oscillates between national isolationism and global solidarity, or between cooperation and conflict, to name only a few.

The devastating effects of the pandemic underline the urgent need for reflection on professional development and commitment to society. This has not only occurred in Medicine, Law, and Education, but also in other professions sharply defined by their precariousness and invisibility, characteristics that the pandemic has now brought to light.

The pandemic has raised ethical questions of generational and social justice that are clearly reflected in the objectives of this conference as applied to the professional ethics of translators and interpreters. These include issues such as how to work as an expert translator or interpreter without disregarding social responsibility; how to provide ethics training; and how to select the most relevant sources for ethics research in such difficult times.

The crisis unleashed by Covid-19 has been a dress rehearsal that has showcased the sustained operation of many professional activities outside the classroom. These include teleworking in business and administration contexts, online teaching, telemedicine, and a wide range of different types of videoconference meeting. The crisis has also spurred the exponential growth of the entertainment industry and access to digital information, online commerce, home delivery, etc. This has enabled industries and the population in general to continue their professional and personal activity in a fairly satisfactory manner.

Many of these activities have been carried out not only by translators, but also by language professionals in many other areas, who are as polyvalent as they are invisible. They work in the language industries, more specifically in localization, dubbing, digital content creation, social-health information, publishing, and post-editing. As is well known, these linguistic activities are embedded in broader professional contexts in which translators or content writers usually have little initiative in terms of authoring, rate negotiation, and improvement of work conditions, despite the social importance of their activities.

The question that arises is how translation professionals should conceive their future. In what new professional contexts will they perform their work? How will they continue their professional development despite the arbitrary nature of the market and globalization phenomena in modern societies as unequal as those in today’s world.

These crossroads, which existed before the Covid-19 pandemic, had been previously addressed in the field of Professional Ethics, a subcategory of Applied Ethics. In the last part of the 20th century, social institutions from governments and international organizations to public opinion, including professionals and experts in different areas, began to consider how they should meet the ethical challenges posed by new social and professional situations for which no single response was feasible.

Applied Ethics was thus born from the imperative of a social reality that required multidisciplinary responses in morally pluralistic societies (Cortina 2002). In this way, local and national commissions have emerged to resolve ethical dilemmas and conflicts in pioneering fields such as Genetics, Business, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change. Similarly, working groups and committees of experts have been created to review and update professional practices based on a code of ethics as well as a purely deontological code. The ultimate purpose of this activity is to revitalize these professions so that they emerge from the crisis of legitimacy that they are currently experiencing and regain social trust (Martínez Navarro 2010).

The proposal to study and reflect on the professional ethics of translators and interpreters does not mean that the topic has not been previously addressed in Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS). In more linguistic and hermeneutic approaches, the idea of fidelity as an ethical principle has always been present. It can also be found in reflections on the idea of contact with the Other as the basis of the activity. More recently, ethics in TIS has been studied from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives (Pym 2001, 2012; Chesterman 2001).

In regard to this conference, we would like to highlight those aspects that contribute to a reflection on the potential of ethics training or ethics awareness. This would allow us to responsibly face the new world just beyond the horizon so that we would not have to solely depend on the demands of a rapidly changing globalized market. In the future, it will also be necessary to find viable ways of managing and resolving conflicts in professional practice (Hewson 2011; Hortal 2007; Drugan and Megone 2011) as well as activities involving volunteer work and social advocacy (Piróth and Baker 2019).

Conference topics should be approached in light of the lessons learned from the pandemic as well as the reflections generated by its economic and social consequences. Topics of interest include the following:

  • Ethics training for future translators and interpreters: contents and methodologies
  • Ethics and professional contexts in translation: ethical challenges and dilemmas
  • Ethics and professional contexts in interpreting: ethical challenges and dilemmas
  • Impact of new technologies and new forms of translation on translation quality
  • Codes of ethics and ethical complementarity
  • The way that professional ethics is addressed in professional associations
  • Ethical management of the use of translators and interpreters in volunteer work and social advocacy
  • Ethical management of the use of translators and interpreters in zones of conflict


Cortina, Adela. 2002. “La dimensión pública de las éticas aplicadas”. Revista Ibero-Americana de Educación 29.

Cronin, Michael. 2003. Translation and Globalization. London: Routledge.

Chesterman, Andrew. 2001. “Proposal for a Hieronymic Oath”. The Translator 7/2: 139-154.

Dollerup, Cay. 2008. “Translation in the Global/Local Tension”. In Translation, Globalisationn and Localisation. A Chinese Perspective,  edited by Wang Ning and Sun Yifeng. Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, 31-49.

Drugan, Joanna & Chris Megone. 2011. “Bringing Ethics into Translator Training. An Integrated, Interdisciplinary Approach”. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 5/1: 183-211.

Drugan, Joanna. 2013. Quality in Professional Translation. Assessment and Improvement. London: Bloomsbury.

Hortal, Augusto. 2007. Ética Profesional de Traductores e Intérpretes. Bilbao: Desclée De Brouwer.

Hewson, Lance. 2011. “Ethics and Choice”. In Sur le fil-traducteurs et éthique, éthiques du traducteur, edited by Christine Pagnoule. Liège: Université de Liège, 21-30.

Martínez Navarro, Emilio. 2010. “La ética profesional como proyecto personal y compromiso de ciudadano”. In La riqueza ética de las profesiones, edited by Mauricio Correa Casanova and Pablo Martínez Becerra. Santiago de Chile: RIL editores.

Piróth, Attila and Mona Baker. 2019.  “Translators Without Borders and the Platform Economy”. The Ethics of Volunteerism in Translation.

Pym, Anthony (ed.) 2001. The Returns to Ethics, The Translator 7/2.

Pym, Anthony. 2012. On Translator Ethics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

For more details, please visit: https://ciuti2021.org/?lang=en

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