The 1st World Congress
on Translation Studies
10-14 APRIL 2017
Paris West University Nanterre-La Défense
on the theme
Translation Studies: an autonomous discipline
The World Congress on Translation Studies,
initiated by the French Society for Translation Studies (SoFT), will
take place every three years. Its aim is to review this vast field of
research and define collectively and officially its orientations in
order to affirm its autonomy.
Its work will focus firmly on the most pertinent and recent conceptual and methodological developments while taking into consideration the three principal branches of the discipline: the history, practice and theories of translation.
The Congress is open to all specialists (researchers, teachers and translators) who are currently reflecting on translation theory and practice.
Description of the Congress in 2017
Several factors determine the autonomy of a discipline: its place as an object of reflection in the history of the intellect, the quality of its engagement in other disciplines, and its impact on society.
Translation is one of the very first responses in actu to the temptation of explaining the meaning of human language. And beyond linguistic considerations and crossings between languages-cultures, translation relates to a crucial reflection on its very nature, its ontological foundations and the nature of reality perceived and represented through consciousness. Well before the translator Cicero made a few remarks on the dependance of language on the philosophical environment in which it unfolds, readers and translators of Heraclitus « the obscure » were confronted with the central difficulty of translating the form of discourse of the presocratic philosopher that was susceptible to imitate the structure of reality, this possible isomorphism, intended or not, but which changes the framework in which the translator operates. From this period in time, right up to Octavio Paz and Yves Bonnefoy, there remains the question of the translation of the pre-rhetorical and pre-conceptual nature of the form, as well as the translation of “culturemes”, “philosophemes” or “cognemes”.
During the XXth and XXIst centuries, not only a growing number of disciplines have contributed to the enrichment of translation studies but they have even been enriched by the theories and concepts developed within the field of translation studies. This transversal work has today gone beyond the first stage of pluridisciplinarity – that wary relationship of proximity –, followed by interdisciplinarity, the entente cordiale, to reach finally that of transdisciplinarity, an assumed puerperium which alone leads to a new painless delivery. Language sciences, on the one hand, comparative literature, on the other hand, the philosophy of language and even theology can no longer oversee by themselves (whether they be separated or in groups) a discipline that has its own concepts, its own specialist community, and above all, one that is based on its own practice.
The constant recourse to translation in all the spheres of contemporary society – and as a result, the use of an increasing number of professional translators –, the multiplication of training courses and research further increases the tightening of the links between practitioners as key players and theorists in this discipline. Even if the university authorities in numerous countries do not yet officially recognise translation studies, either through a lack of awareness or for any other reason that escapes the world of specialists, the fact remains that such a discipline, defined as the reflection on all the dimensions of the act of translating, cannot be lumped together with others. And indeed the principal objective of this congress is to establish translation studies as an autonomous discipline.
With this principle in mind, the congress will therefore be organised around six key domains with as many disciplined-based subsets that could combine all languages. Each domain is divided into four sessions and each session into four or five related workshops. A workshop will have between seven and eight papers spread over a single day and followed by a debate where other presenters can participate.
The first domain, which is more generalist and factual, will chart the state of play for translation studies in the world today. An attempt will be made to give an update on the teaching of translation studies in a large number of countries and across the different continents, whether it be within schools or faculties of translation or university courses from year one to doctorate studies. Moreover, we will be able to focus on the progress in translation studies research, the development of centres for research or specialist publications, and the evolution of editorial policies for translation studies or translations.
The second domain will try to provide an overview of the history of translations through its most varied aspects, both from the point of view of discourse and concepts encountered through the history of translation studies to the specific genres it deals with, including, for example, literary or scientific texts. This second domain aims at positioning itself as a continuation of a dominant French model which, in recent years, has concentrated on in-depth encyclopaedic research by teams of specialists studying the History of Translations into French (the HTLF, directed by Yves Chevrel and Jean-Yves Masson, Sorbonne University). This research has led not only to exploring the history of the reception of translations, but also to the history of translation practices, their theories or the theoretical assumptions that their works reveal. Further still, this congress in 2017 will provide an opportunity for an important number of workshops to focus on the history of the translations of philosophical or religious texts and, by doing so, explore domains that are still rarely consulted, as shown in the results provided by the HTLF.
The third domain will concentrate on all the most salient and innovative aspects of the theoretical approaches to translation in the XXIst century. Umberto Eco in particular will be honoured this year. The transdisciplinary approach will therefore be emphasised often in order to highlight the theoretical links, at the heart of translation studies between, for example, semantics and cognitivism, symbolism and semiotics, or between feminism and gender studies, and even between certain psychoanalytical concepts and some of the “theorems for translation”.
The papers in the fourth domain, will concentrate essentially on the methodologies for literary translation, whether they be developed by professional translators or translators from the world of academia. The presentations will thereby emphasise the four most innovative or recurrent aspects of recent research into the methods or the problematics of translation: textual genetics which has developed since the 1970s and has recently led specialists in translation studies to be interested in the contribution of this discipline and to reconstitute, in a dynamic way, the very act of translating in order to highlight the doubts, the flaws and the achievements of the translator during the birth of the target text; the growing challenges of untranslatability: the untranslatability of certain texts belonging to recent disciplines such as law and the humanities; aporiae in the translation of poetic, religious or philosophical texts, that have been revisited; or further still, the aporiae that arise from translating different types of oral discourse including its most contemporary, literary or dialectical forms.
The fifth domain will show the new calmer orientations taken by terminology-translation studies, in the well-established translation fields of economics and commerce as well as political discourse, and also try to pave the way for the new field of legal translation studies and revamped sociolingusitics. Electronic dictionaries, the fruit of recent research in general linguistics and knowledge engineering, will be dealt with not only as electronic tools for lexicological research, but also the latest advances in ergonomics and meta-cognitition. Translation studies in the humanities develop in terms of transposable and not superposable terminology. They do not lend themselves to unity and normalisation. The workshops will shed new light on the status of translation in relation to literary and specialised translation that will bring together philosophers, philologists and linguists.
Finally, the sixth domain will explore, in the context of the digital revolution and the upheavals in the audiovisual sector, the linguistics of the corpus which, for several years now, has opened up new fields for exploration and application for researchers in translation studies by proposing corpus processing tools – aligned or simultaneous –, automatic translation or translation tools, the creation and management of data bases for terminology. This domain will also explore the new translation tools using mobile phones and voice recognition techniques, as well as the new professions that are entirely linked to the evolution of digitalisation for post-editing, quality assurance and project management. The physical, cognitive or organisational ergonomics of professional translation activities will be studied along with the development of collaborative tools. Finally, this domain will show the need for even more cutting-edge reflection for translation studies in relation to the cinema, subtitling, dubbing, video games, and will also include the latest advances in the field of sign languages.
All papers will be given preferably in French or in English, but also in Spanish.
NB : A handout in English (photocopies or PowerPoint slides) is required for presentations in Spanish that will include a description of the paper with a detailed plan.
Length of papers : 30 minutes
- Length of inaugural conferences on Monday: 45 minutes
- Length of keynote conferences: 45 minutes
The World Congress on Translation Studies will lead to on-line and printed publications.
The on-line publication will contain a series of films of the presentations, and printed texts.
The printed version with the Éditions Classiques Garnier in the review From Words to Acts by SoFT and SEPTET will include a selection of the presentations. The texts must not have been published previously, and they must be sent by the presenters within three months of the Congress (30,000 characters including spaces), i.e. before July 1st 2017. The publication standards of the Classiques Garnier must be followed carefully for the article to be accepted after examination by the review committee.