Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Symposium on the History of Interpreting

The First International Symposium on the History of Interpreting is scheduled to take place at Rikkyo, Japan, next Saturday and Sunday, May 24-25.

As it’s only a short event with select invited speakers, one can’t expect too much of it. The topic is a vast one. Nevertheless, there’s something about the programme that disquiets me greatly. It’s that although considerable amounts must have been spent on bringing the distinguished invited experts from round the globe and the hosts are Japanese, there’s nothing about the very interesting history of interpreting in Japan itself. There’s one paper about Taiwan, aka Formosa when it was under Japanese rule, but that hardly counts as Japan. Where were the conference programme organisers sleeping?

Therefore, as a fringe contribution to the conference, I offer my own article from a decade ago about Ernest Satow, the young Englishman who, with his British Foreign Office and Japanese colleagues, revolutionised diplomatic interpreting in that country in the 1860s. You can find an extract and a reference to the complete article at https://independent.academia.edu/BHARRIS or by clicking here.

The young Ernest Satow (later Sir Ernest Satow, Ambassador to Japan, etc.) Source: Yokahama Archives of History.


  1. Nice post!Thanks for sharing this information

  2. Thanks for all the tips mentioned in this article! it's always good to read things you have heard before and are implementing, but from a different perspective, always pick up some extra bits of information.