British Council/University of Jordan Symposium, Amman, 5-7 September 2013

Translation and Interpreting as Social Practice


Speakers: Mona Baker, Ebru Diriker, Farzaneh Farahzad, Carol O’Sullivan, Christopher Rundle

Location: University of Jordan

Sponsor: British Council, Jordan

Attendance is free. Note: attendance at Public Event at the end of the (closed) British Academy Workshop, 4 September 2013, is also free.

This event is open to the public. To register, or if you have any queries, please contact: Aseel Ziban, American Corner,  962 535 5000 ex. 24710; Mobile  962 799 299504; email:

Day 1 – 5 September 2013

9:30-10:00       Opening Ceremony

10:00-10:30     Tea/coffee break

10:30 -12:00    Plenary I: Professor Mona Baker, University of Manchester, UK

The Personal Dimension in Narrative Theory – Implications for Translation & Interpreting Research

Abstract. One of the most important differences between ‘narrative’ and ‘discourse’ as theoretical concepts lies in narrative theory’s attention to the personal apsects of experience. Practically all definitions of discourse share a focus on collective, institutionally generated and sanctioned knowledge. By contrast, narrative theory pays equal attention to institutional, public narratives and the detailed stories of everyday experience. It recognises that the public and the private are highly interdependent, and that intervening in public discourses (or narratives) requires recognition of the power of personal narratives and the agency of the individual. The focus in this approach is not just on social and political inequality but also on the individual’s grappling with everyday issues that touch their lives. This presentation will draw on authentic examples of translation and interpreting to demonstrate aspects of the interplay between personal and public narratives and explore its implications for research in translation and interpreting.

12:00- 13:30    Workshop 1: Dr. Carol O’Sullivan, University of Bristol, UK

Overwriting =Overhearing? Some Challenges in Subtitling Research and Practice

Abstract: Subtitling is often presented as a method of translation of audiovisual texts which allows the ‘authentic’ text to be heard, because it does not replace elements of the soundtrack as dubbing does. This workshop aims to problematise this assumption, by showing how subtitles alter the viewing experience and, arguably, the subtitled text itself. The first part of the workshop will present some of the key concepts in subtitling research and practice and offer a brief overview of the academic literature. The second part of the workshop will be interactive. We will look at a number of challenges for subtitling practice and for subtitling research. In the area of subtitling practice we will consider the problems of subtitling multilingual texts. With regard to translation research we will consider the agents through whom subtitling is done (who are they? Are the structures within which they work the same across languages and cultures?); the shift towards ‘crowdsourced’ audiovisual translation in recent years, and the implications of the ways in which audiovisual texts circulate on the web for the future of research and practice in this field.

13:30-14:45    Lunch break

14:45- 16:00    Plenary II: Professor Ebru Diriker, Boğaziçi University, Turkey

Evolution of Interpreting as Social Practice

Abstract: This talk will explore the evolution of interpreting throughout the centuries, from the first known references to interpreters in Egypt, to interpreters of the holy scripts, from those who served the colonizers to those who were trained from a very young age to interpret for their sovereigns, from those who gained serious positions of power as imperial interpreters to those who lost their fame or, even worse, their lives for playing the game too dangerously. Travelling through history to explore the connection between social contexts and the presence of interpreters, the talk will also look at how conference interpreting has established itself as a profession amidst the political and cultural circumstances of the 20th century.

Day 2 – 6 September 2013

TRIP TO PETRA (Optional)

Day 3 – 7 September 2013

9:30- 11:00      Plenary III: Professor  Farzaneh Farahzad, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Iran

Editing (Virayesh) as a Movement of Resistance During the Iran-Iraq War

Abstract. After the establishment of  the Islamic Republic in Iran in 1979 and the breakout of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the universities were closed down for the so-called Cultural Revolution, originally designed to introduce recent foreign knowledge into the country in all fields of science and technology. Translation then became an alternative to writing and gradually occupied a primary position in academic productions. However, the outcome of this nationwide project was a huge number of low quality and incomprehensible translations, marked by literalism, borrowing and calque which made the target texts sound foreign. Editing and revision of these translations soon became a major concern at the national level and received the support of both the elite and the state.

Reviewing the local discourse of the time on editing, for which the term virayesh was coined, and which developed during the Iran-Iraq war,  the present paper maintains that the transfer of foreign structures through translation started to be interpreted as a threat first against the Persian language and then, by extension, against Iranian identity. It argues that the military war to protect the borders was paralleled by a linguistic  war to protect the language and the identity, so much that improving  the translations gradually came to mean protecting and strengthening the national aspects of Iranian identity as the Self by resisting the Other in text and discourse. It concludes that the linguistic purism inspired by the redefined nationalism, went hand in hand with identity politics, and snowballed  into an elite movement of resistance which lived on for more than a decade.

11:30- 11:45    Tea/coffee break

11:45- 13:30    Workshop 2: Dr. Christopher Rundle, University of Bologna, Italy and University of Manchester, UK

The Censorship of Translation in Fascist Systems

Abstract: This workshop will consider the question of censorship and translation by looking at systems of censorship in European fascist regimes of the 20th century. It will begin by looking in some detail at how the censorship of translation evolved in Fascist Italy, with an emphasis on looking for policies aimed specifically at translations. The workshop will then move on to make comparisons with the censorship of translation in Nazi Germany, a regime that was both inspired by and contemporary with Fascist Italy, and with Francoist Spain, a regime that is really more defined by its post-war history and which consequently evolved rather differently. The workshop will then conclude with a reflection on what it means to carry out research in translation history and consider the contribution that research into translation can make to our general understanding of a historical subject.

13: 30-14: 45   Lunch Break

14:45-16:00     Workshop 3: Professor Mona Baker, University of Manchester, UK

Corpora in Translation and Interpreting Research

Abstract: This workshop will focus on the potential for exploiting corpora of translation in a variety of ways for research purposes. It will outline a broad research programme for corpus-based studies, including examples of research issues that have been explored using corpus resources at Manchester and elsewhere as well as new areas of research currently being initiated at Manchester, and offer a critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of this type of research. A demonstration of the Translational English Corpus (TEC) held at Manchester will be included to offer a concrete example of how a corpus might be interrogated by translation scholars.

16.00-16.30     Closing Remarks