It’s an age-old argument, and one which I hear voiced far too frequently among translators. But even so, I must admit to being left more than a little slack-jawed with shock at a letter in the most recent issue (as of May 2007) of the Chartered Institute of Linguist‘s journal, The Linguist.
The writer of this letter (who shall remain nameless) requested that fewer academic articles be included as “the majority of readers will not find them particularly relevant to their working or cultural lives”.
WHAT??!! I may not be a majority all on my own, but I certainly take umbrage with this guy claiming to speak on behalf of the majority of my colleagues.
I sincerely hope that this comment does not go unchallenged in the forthcoming issues of The Linguist. I just can’t believe that a profession which is fighting so hard to be recognised (recent chartered status, industry standards, CEN norms, etc) could allow this kind of ignorance to go unchallenged. Needless to say, the editor has already received my Strongly Worded Response 🙂
Translation theory has very relevant applications in translation practice, and it’s important for any practising translator interested in professional development to keep abreast of developments in academia. Whenever I hear someone claim otherwise, I immediately move them several places down my private “does-this-person-know-what-they-are-talking-about” scale. Granted, I may not immediately grasp of significance of a piece of research, or find a day-to-day application for a theory, but key findings do eventually filter through the layers of the profession and have a direct impact on my working life. So an intelligent but easily readable summary of developments in academia is the very least I would expect from a chartered association claiming to represent professionals.
At the recent ITI Conference in London, Dr Jean-Pierre Mailhac very rightly pointed out that this lack of interest in theory and new developments would be most concerning if demonstrated by practitioners in fields such as medicine or law. Do you feel you would get the best treatment from a doctor who didn’t see the connection between theory and practice? So why should translation be any different?
Do we want to be taken as serious language professionals, or don’t we?