Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Wake-Up Conference?

Many people have an irksome bee in their bonnet. Lionel's, over at The Liaison Interpreter, is AIIC and the supercilious, crème de le crème attitude of conference interpreters towards the other breeds. Mine, you may have noticed, is Academia and more particularly academic Translation Studies, with their conference rituals and priesthood, publication norms (I'm struggling to turn my Forli PowerPoint presentation into an article), fashions and careering (pun) bandwagons, university beancounters who use computers to count the beans – and yawning gaps.

One gap that this blog has complained about several times is the scant interest in religious translation compared with literary translation, although religious translation has been incomparably important throughout history, more than literary translation, which is so fashionable with graduate students and has produced so many publications in recent years. Religious texts and preaching reach out to all classes of society. Of course in Translation Studies there was Nida, but even he has fallen out of fashion and there's no longer a obligatory quotation from him in the opening chapter of every thesis as there used to be 30 years ago. At the Forli NPIT conference, I called the commemoration of the 400th centenary of the King James Bible "the academic non-event of the year in Translation Studies." Fortunately the popular press and publishers in the English-speaking countries did much better.

So to cut the tirade short, it now gives me pleasure to relay the announcement of a mini-conference called Translating and Interpreting in Religious Settings, to be held at the University of Mainz at Germersheim, on the Rhine near Karlsruhe, Germany, from 29 to 31 August, 2013. The link is here.

Mind you, it's just one panel (Panel 19) of a much bigger jamboree, the 7th Congress of the European Society of Translation Studies (ESTS), but let's hope it's a wake-up call.

Notice particularly the inclusion of Interpreting, a concomitant of preaching. As the conference organisers say, "Interpreting in religious settings has received little attention." That's putting it mildly, though there were two papers on church interpreting at Forli (see Further Reading), and you can find a series of posts about it on this blog by entering church interpreters in the Search box on the right.

Most church interpreters are Non-Professional Advanced Native Interpreters. So I might consider going to the conference myself if only I weren't so anti-Academia.

Further Reading
For more about Nida, enter eugene nida in the Search box on the right.

The website of the famous translation school (FTSK) at Germersheim, which opened in 1947, is here. It has nearly 2,000 students.

Sari Hokkanen (University of Tampere). Simultaneous interpreting as service: the case of a Finnish Pentacostal church. Paper to the First International Conference on Non-professional Interpreting and Translation, Forli, Italy, 2012.

Angelina Hild (State University of New York). Interpreting the prophetic: loyalty, authority and inspiration. Paper to the First International Conference on Non-professional Interpreting and Translation, Forli, Italy, 2012. Abstract here.

About the King James Bible on this blog, enter king james in the Search box on the right.

FTSK Germersheim: the original 1947 building, formerly a barracks. Photo by Natalie Bartges, 2008.


  1. Although a professional translator from German and French (in-house but now freelance), I was also a civilian conference interpreter for Allied Staff, a US/UK/FR military staff in Berlin, for four years in the Cold War era - without prior training. In more recent times I was in charge of outsourcing the UK Ministry of Defence's interpreting assignments to freelances and agencies.
    Only once did I do church interpreting (without training, no pay as it's bringing the good news). It was at a German Lutheran church in Hannover which had the booth and equipment. My wife and family said I made a reasonable fist of conveying the sermon/talk!
    Like the Mormons (see one of your linked blogs), the Focolare Movement relies heavily on (unpaid) volunteer interpreters at its many international meetings and gatherings: .
    Church interpreters need a good understanding of some religious and spiritual terms which have very specific context-dependent meaning, depending on the faith, religion or denomination.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous. Now I know a bit more about you.
    The part about your Cold War experience is especially timely because I'm preparing a post on military interpreting.
    Besides the technical know-how, there's something I think most church interpreters would say they need if they are to be convincing: Faith.
    I'll take a look at the Focolare Movement.

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  4. Er, hi there. I was the co-chair of that panel. We have applied to the Germersheim NPIT for 3 (yes, 3!) panels. It would be great to meet in person. Plus, if you ever want a guest post on interpreting in religious settings, give me a shout.

    1. Yes, Jonathan, I'd welcome a guest post. Just bear in mind please that my limit is 1,000 words, including references.
      I don't suppose I'll be at Germersheim. I'm 85 and age is beginning to tell on me.

  5. Conferences means to share your ideas to the people and update the new ideas.
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