Translations: Exchange of Ideas
An Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference
June 27th – 28th 2013
Cardiff University, Wales UK
Dr Eileen Brennan (St Patrick’s College Drumcondra)
Dr Elizabeth Wren-Owens (Cardiff University)
“Indeed, it seems to me that translation sets us not only intellectual work, theoretical or practical, but also an ethical problem. Bringing the reader to the author, bringing the author to the reader, at the risk of serving and of betraying two masters: this is to practise what I like to call linguistic hospitality. It is this which serves as a model for other forms of hospitality that I think resemble it: confessions, religions, are they not like languages that are foreign to one another, with their lexicon, their grammar, their rhetoric, their stylistics which we must learn in order to make our way into them? And is eucharistic hospitality not to be taken up with the same risks of translation-betrayal, but also with the same renunciation of the perfect translation?”
(Paul Ricoeur, On Translation)
For Paul Ricoeur, there are two paradigms of translation: linguistic translation, or the relation between words and meanings, and ontological translation, which refers to how translation happens between one human being and another. Whilst we can separate these two approaches to translation in an abstract sense, they are in reality inseparable since issues of translation always have a social context and consequences for our shared, public world. The multiplicity of languages, media, and forms of expression and representation, creates the on-going and never-ending task of translation. One might even say that the space of creativity, exploration, interaction, and even life itself, is a space of translation, where things, people, and ideas meet.
Considering translation as both a linguistic and ontological phenomenon, this conference centres on the exchange of ideas across the humanities and social sciences. For this two-day conference we are looking for doctoral students from a variety of disciplines to consider how the theme of translation relates to their own research and how their work relates to other researchers both within their subject area and in different disciplines within the humanities. Some of the most important intellectual ideas have emerged in the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and this conference would like to consider how this interdisciplinary exchange and translation of ideas functions today.
We can begin thinking of translation as a linguistic process and interrogate the formal relationship between two texts: an original or source text, and a translated text. When we consider the formal relationship between these two texts we might employ terms such as accuracy, fidelity, identity, equivalence, correspondence, and correctness. When we conceive of translation in this way we focus on concepts of similarity and difference, as well as open up questions such as ‘what is a translation?’, ‘what makes a good or accurate translation?’ and ‘could there be an ideal or perfect translation?’
On the other hand, we can think of translation as an ontological process and focus on the social effects released from the act of translation. Communication of information might seem the most important and obvious effect. But equally significant are the effects of translation used or exploited for social ends: religious movements/institutions, commercial enterprises, colonial projects, national languages and literatures, and literary movements. Therefore, how texts are translated and what terms we use to describe the relationship between source and destination, original and translation, must be conceived in relation to the social effects of translation.
Related to this linguistic/ontological distinction is the contrast between instrumental and hermeneutic approaches to language. The instrumental approach sees language as communication based on reference to an empirical reality, whilst the hermeneutic approach sees language as interpretation and holds that reality is shaped by meanings that are cultural and hence contingent. Clearly, whether one privileges the instrumental or the hermeneutic has important social, political and cultural implications beyond the merely formal concerns of linguistics.
For this conference, we encourage submitters of abstracts to keep the multiplicity of the concept of translation in mind. How does your own work relate to the topic of translation? How do you translate ideas, concepts, practices, and so on, from other disciplines for your own specific field? How do you work with and/or alongside researchers in different humanities disciplines? What is gained and what is lost in the translation of ideas from one discipline to another? The range of possible topics is broad and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Translation across disciplines – interdisciplinary studies
Translating a message for a larger group
Translation as adaptation
Translation as public engagement – translating academic work for a wider audience
Translating between cultures, across time and space
Translation and technology – translating between different formats (books, TV, computers, mobile devices, the internet, etc.)
The ethics of translation – how does translation affect people, what is left out, who is privileged, and who is silenced/marginalised?
The aesthetics of translation – how do we translate the affective, the materiality of language, the sonority as well as the sense?
Translation theory – what is translation? How does it work? For what ends?
Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to TranslationsConference@cf.ac.uk by May 4th. Please include a brief biographical note. If accepted, papers should be no more than 20 minutes long.
An abstract submission form and further information can be found here: www.cardiff.ac.uk/ugc/go/translationsconference
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