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Blog de Michel Politis, Professeur au Département de Langues Étrangères, de Traduction et d'Interprétation de l'Université ionienne (Corfou - Grèce)

Σάββατο, 5 Φεβρουαρίου 2011

The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, Volume 5, Number 1, 2011

The Interpreter and Translator Trainer
Volume 5, Number 1, 2011

Special Issue
Ethics and the Curriculum: Critical Perspectives

Guest Editors: Mona Baker & Carol Maier

ISBN: 978-1-905763-26-9

Now available to online subscribers

A number of translation scholars and educators have begun to argue that the training of translators and interpreters should include preparation not only for the market but also for society – for the concrete ethical dilemmas that face translators and interpreters in real life. Scholars and educators alike, however, have yet to engage fully with issues such as how students might be alerted to potential ethical dilemmas and encouraged to reflect on them as part of their training;; how educators themselves might reflect on the ethics of teaching; and whether it is possible to elaborate an ethics that is specific to teaching translators and interpreters. With rare exceptions, mostly in the area of literary translation, translator and interpreter education has typically sidestepped these questions, and the issue of ethics in general. At most, students are made aware of existing professional codes of practice (often misleadingly referred to as codes of ethics). These tend to focus on the rights of the fee-paying client and stress the need for impartiality and fidelity, notwithstanding growing public concerns and debate over the rampant consumerism that has accompanied globalization in recent years.

This special issue of The Interpreter and Translator Trainer provides a forum for reflection on questions of ethics in the context of translator and interpreter education. Covering a wide range of training contexts and types of translation and interpreting, contributors call for a radically altered view of the relationship between ethics and the translating and interpreting profession, a relationship in which ethical decisions can rarely, if ever, be made a priori but must be understood and taught as an integral and challenging element of one’s work.


Baker, Mona and Carol Maier. Ethics in Interpreter & Translator Training: Critical Perspectives, pages 1-14. (Available for free download)

This introduction to the ITT special issue on Ethics and the Curriculum argues the need to engage more systematically with ethical issues in the context of translator and interpreter training, particularly in view of recent technological, social, political and professional developments that are yet to be explored in the literature in terms of ethical implications. The authors argue that accountability is now a key issue in all professions, and that the responsibility of translators and interpreters extends beyond clients to include the wider community to which they belong. In order for students to embrace this responsibility and develop an awareness of their impact on society, the classroom must be configured as an open space for reflection and experimentation. The article proposes types of activity that may be incorporated in the translation and interpreting curriculum in order to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on ethical questions in their own work and in the work of other translators and interpreters and it outlines some of the challenges posed to educators in this context.

Keywords: Ethics, Reflexivity, Assessment, Pedagogy, Accountability, Responsibility, Classroom activities, Controversial issues

Tipton, Rebecca. Relationships of Learning between Military Personnel and Interpreters in Situations of Violent Conflict: Dual Pedagogies and Communities of Practice, pages 15-40.

This article explores the nature of the learning and learning relationships that emerge between civilian interpreters (most of them recruited locally) and military personnel in situations of violent conflict, with specific reference to the conflict in Iraq. The decision to focus on civilian linguists stems from particular ethical, cultural and professional issues raised by their involvement in such situations and the fact that those issues have yet to be fully explored by the academy. The discussion is premised on the notion of ‘horizontal learning’ according to which learners do not acquire a body of facts about the world, but instead develop understandings of how to ‘be’ in a world in flux. Under such a premise, the concept of ‘teacher’ does not exist and the potential for ‘dual pedagogies’ therefore emerges. The article considers the potential for the development of identifiable inter- and intra-professional communities of practice as a way to foster informed approaches to interpreter-mediated activities and also to serve as a framework for the evaluation and sense-making of interpreter-mediated activities in the field, against the backdrop of the increasing professionalization of conflict in the modern world.

Keywords: Communities of practice, Violent conflict, Activity theory, Boundary spanner, Dual pedagogies, Horizontal learning

Boéri, Julie and Jesús de Manuel Jerez. From Training Skilled Conference Interpreters to Educating Reflective Citizens: A Case Study of the Marius Action Research Project, pages 41-64.

This paper reflects on how to initiate transformative training practices that set out to enhance social awareness of the role of conference interpreting in an asymmetrical society. Adopting a narrative perspective, the authors focus on two successive teaching innovation projects run at the University of Granada – ‘Elaboration of Multimedia Didactic Material for Interpreting Classes’ and ‘Virtualization of Multimedia Didactic Material for Interpreting Classes’. The two projects together are referred to as ‘Marius’. Marius’s training research methodology, based on emancipatory principles of participation and horizontality, is elaborated for and with students. Drawing on new technologies, the project accomodates a plurality of voices and cosmovisions, not only to ensure that future interpreters develop the ability to work with both dominant and resistant discourses in society, but also to encourage them to reflect on these discourses and on their own role as professionals and citizens. This case study is particularly helpful in exploring how a socio-critical pedagogy, particularly action research, allows for a shift from training practitioners for the market towards educating reflective citizens, at the same time as problematizing the ethics of training research methodologies.

Keywords: Ethics, Action research, Conference interpreting, Deontology, Narrative, Education, Marius

Floros, Georgios. ‘Ethics-less’ Theories and ‘Ethical’ Practices: On Ethical Relativity in Translation, pages 65-92.

This paper discusses the issue of ethical responsibility on the part of the translator, specifically the need to act ethically and make responsible translation-related decisions about politically sensitive texts, focusing on practices that emerge in the context of translator training. The underlying premise of the discussion is that a contradiction between theoretical ideals and actual contexts of practice hampers students’ ability to negotiate an ethical decision. In an attempt to enable students to arrive at well-thought out, responsible decisions, this paper outlines a potential framework for exploring the ethical implications of textual choices in translation. The notion of ethical relativity is introduced as a by-product of the dynamism and partiality of norms, narratives and values, and used to highlight the factors that have a bearing on decision making. The ultimate aim is to demonstrate that an ethical framework must be sought that allows students to question and negotiate norms and narratives in order to arrive at sound ethical decisions. This framework must also offer students the possibility to act responsibly as agents of political change. Two translation exercises of politically sensitive texts from the Greek context are discussed as case studies.

Keywords: Norms, Translator training, Conflict, Values, Narratives, Ethical decision, Ethical relativity, Ethical injunction

Gill, Rosalind M. and María Constanza Guzmán. Teaching Translation for Social Awareness in Toronto, pages 93-108.

This paper addresses the importance of social awareness in translation teaching. On the basis of the authors’ experiences as translators and as translation teachers in a global city such as Toronto, they discuss some of the challenges encountered in these daily practices. The first part of the paper is based on the experience of teaching Spanish-English translation. It focuses on the construction of the translator’s image and identity by means of including questions of social and cultural agency as part of the translator’s role and self-definition. The second part of the paper focuses on the French-English teaching experience. It discusses translation pedagogy from an ecological perspective centred on boundary-crossing and the observation of inter-language and inter-cultural relationships and proposes a non-authoritarian approach to the construction of meaning. The teaching of social awareness in translation programmes has become a humanitarian necessity in the globalized world. The principal goal of this paper is to call for a pedagogy of translation that focuses on the translator as a subject whose work has social and ethical implications.

Keywords: Translation pedagogy, Ecological paradigm, Recursive approach, Systems theory, Translation Zone, Translator’s agency, Community-based translation and interpreting

Donovan, Clare. Ethics in the Teaching of Conference Interpreting, pages 109-128.

In marked contrast to research on court and community interpreting, in which ethics has long been addressed, research on conference interpreting has tended to focus on cognitive aspects of the interpreting process. In addition, ethical issues have not usually been addressed explicitly in the classroom. Recently, however, a shift in emphasis in both research and training can be observed, with closer attention being paid to the role of the conference interpreter within a complex communicative situation. Many training programmes now incorporate explicit modules on ethics. Thus, in many ways conference interpreting has seen a shift towards considerations previously more typical of community and court interpreting. This paper examines the reasons for this shift and for persistent attempts to draw distinctions between the various types of interpreting in relation to ethical demands. The consequences of professional self-perception and socialization for the place of ethics in conference interpreter training are also discussed.

Keywords: Professionalization, Ethics, Conference interpreting, Impartiality, Codes of practice

Abdallah, Kristiina. Towards Empowerment: Students’ Ethical Reflections on Translating in Production Networks, pages 129-154.

The translation profession has recently undergone a shift from a predominantly humanist occupation to a globalized industry. Consequently, the need for educators to prepare translators-in-training for the conflicting expectations of their new working environment, defined in this article as ‘translation production networks’, has risen sharply. Characterized by a hierarchical structure, extreme division of labour, and the involvement of multiple actors, production networks are rife with ethical dilemmas. The challenges posed by such dilemmas provided the impetus for a new course at the University of Tampere in Finland. The Translators’ and Interpreters’ Professional Business Skills course was developed to sensitize students to a range of ethical concerns that arise in the contemporary translation industry and to help them retain their agency in making moral judgements. This paper examines students’ reflections on professional ethical dilemmas faced by micro-entrepreneur translators in production networks. The analysis suggests that reflecting on ethical dilemmas of a collective nature sensitizes students to the conflict between their own ethical principles and the principles outlined in business codes of ethics and enables them to act more responsibly.

Keywords: Ideology, Empowerment, Reflexivity, Morality, Production networks, Radical education

Dean, Robyn K. and Robert Q Pollard, Jr. Context-based Ethical Reasoning in Interpreting: A Demand Control Schema Perspective, pages 155-182.

Ethical interpreting practice must be predicated on an ongoing analysis of relevant contextual factors that arise in the interpreting situation. Although endorsed to some degree in interpreting pedagogy, this assertion runs counter to much of the history and continuing rhetoric of the interpreting field. Interpreting students receive a mixed message when educators assert a non-contextual, rule-based approach to ethics while simultaneously responding to both ethical and translation questions with “It depends” – an obvious reference to the centrality of context in decision making. This article elucidates a teleological (outcomes-focused) ethical reasoning framework which hinges on a continuing analysis of the dynamic context of the interpreting situation. Grounded in the construct of practice profession responsibility, this approach scrutinizes the co-created dialogue between the interpreter, the consumers who are present, and the context of their collective encounter. It is argued here that critical reasoning in the service of work effectiveness equates to ethical reasoning, even if an ethical dilemma per se has not arisen. The authors’ approach to context-based interpreting work analysis and decision making, the demand control schema (DC-S), has been the subject of several research studies, including a recently-concluded dissemination project involving 15 interpreter education programmes across the United States.

Keywords: Ethics, Interpreter education, Supervision, Demand control schema, Practice profession, Reflective learning practices, Decision-making


Drugan, Joanna and Chris Megone. Bringing Ethics into Translator Training: An Integrated, Inter-disciplinary Approach, pages 189-211.

Translator training programmes have expanded exponentially since the 1990s against a backdrop of increasing economic and cultural globalization. A growing body of literature contends that, if the effects of globalization are to be dealt with effectively, translation studies should return to questions of ethics (Venuti 1998, Pym 2001a). Thus training in ethics for future translators is arguably more important than ever, as graduates will work in a climate of lowered trade barriers, increasing competition among translators, globalized business practices, crowdsourcing and growing public debates on ethical consumerism. The authors’ recent survey of translator training programmes in the UK, however, indicates that ethics is typically not taught at all or is offered only as part of optional modules. One way out of this impasse is for translation studies to learn from other professions where training in ethics has been integrated in the recent past. The authors’ combined experience of integrating ethics training across many subject fields and running one of the UK’s largest translation Masters programmes is first used to define key relevant ideas from the study of ethics and identify the main ethical questions that translators face every day in their work. Real, practical case studies of such ethical issues in translation are then outlined, and a range of ways of assessing and reacting to these issues is presented. The paper thus proposes a tried and tested approach to embedding ethics training in the curriculum which can be adopted in translation studies.

Keywords: Ethics, Curriculum content, Case study method, Codes of ethics, Duties, Inter-disciplinarity, Professional conduct, Responsibilities, Virtues


Review of: Éthique et politique du traduire (Ethics and Politics of Translation). Henri Meschonnic. Paris: Verdier, 2007. Reviewed by James Underhill.

Review of: Derrida, Deconstruction and Education: Ethics of Pedagogy and Research. (First published as a special issue of Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2003.) Peter Pericles Trifonas and Michael A. Peters (eds). Malden, MA, Oxford & Victoria: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. Reviewed by Kobus Marais.

Review of: Ética Profesional de Traductores e Intérpretes (Professional Ethics for Translators and Interpreters). Augusto Hortal. Bilbao: Desclée, 2007. Reviewed by Elisa Calvo Encinas.

Review of: Nietzsche, Ethics and Education: An Account of Difference (Educational Futures: Rethinking Theory and Practice, vol. 8). Peter Fitzsimons. Rotterdam & Taipei: Sense Publishers, 2007. Reviewed by Esther Monzó.

Review of: Français-Créole Créole-Français: De la traduction. Éthique, Pratiques, Problèmes, Enjeux (French-Creole Creole-French: On Translation, Ethics, Practices, Problems, Issues). Jean-Pierre Arsaye. Paris: Editions l’Harmattan & Presses Universitaires Créoles, 2004. Reviewed by Danielle Banyai.

Thesis Abstract (Available for free download)

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