Monday, November 12, 2018

Natural Translation in Africa



Not much has been published about natural translation (NT) in Africa apart from church interpreting.  African church interpreting was first described on this blog in 2009; to find the post, enter Buea in the Search This Blog box on the right. It pains me to read about the language-based conflict that's raging in that part of Cameroon today. In 2009 Cameroon appeared to be a model of linguistic convivience.

Earlier, in 1995, an African student of mine, Christiane Lozès-Lawani, presented a groundbreaking thesis about schoolchildren interpreting in her native country, Benin (see below). It was groundbreaking not only because of NT but also because of her method of eliciting it from children by story telling, and in a way that was typically African..

I was reminded of the above by an article that recently crossed my electronic desk, Importance of translation in contemporary Ghana (see below). Actually it's mostly not about NT but about the need for trained translators and interpreters. It's noteworthy that its author, Dr. Cudjue, includes among the professionals bilingual secretaries, a class of translators that's numerous in my own country, Canada, too, though insufficiently recognised. And it's of interest to Africans to know that there's a training programme at the School of Translators of the Ghana Institute of Languages in Accra, so they don't necessarily have to go to Europe or America for it. The Institute also has a School of Blingual Secretaryship. And another initiative that other schools might well look at is its classes for high school students. Why wait for university to improve young people's translating skills? But of particular interest to us is the article's introductory paragraph, which is very telling with regard to NT (emphasis added):
"Due to its colonial experience and the creation of artificial borders, Ghana finds itself face-to-face with a linguistic reality. The fact that the country is sandwiched between Francophone countries, namely Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, has a lot of implications for economic, industrial, political and socio-religious activities.
"One of the simplest ways of defining translation is 'rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended the text' (Newmark 1988). This definition implies then that anybody, including a child, who is delivering a message, for example, from one language into another is involved in translation.
Thus, given the colonial experience that Africans have gone through and the linguistic legacy that has been bequeathed to them, their daily communication is dominated by the process of translation."
Sources
Alfred B. Cudjoe, Importance of translation in contemporary Ghana. Graphic Online, 22 October 2018. https://www.graphic.com.gh/features/opinion/importance-of-translation-in-contemporary-ghana.html, or click [HERE].

Christiane Lozès-Lawani. La traduction naturelle chez des enfants fon de la République du Bénin. [Natural Translation by Fon Children in Benin]. Unpublished M.A. dissertation, School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa, 1994. Advisor Brian Harris. 181 p. Available from ProQuest-UMI, order no. MM04903. In French, but an English abstract is available at https://ruor.uottawa.ca/handle/10393/10118 or click [HERE].

Image
Benin school children. Source: English International School, Cotonou

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