sreda, 14. marec 2012

On theory, training and life-long learning

The last couple of weeks have been rather busy. Apart from usual classes I give and take, and the deadlines for my PhD seminars, we've had wonderful foreign lecturers and guests at our Faculty and on top of that, AIIC organized two great web seminars. The first one last week with dr. Minhua Liu entitled The making of a skilled interpreter: What we know about expertise development in interpreting, and the second one this week with Robin Setton on theory in interpreter training (What use is theory in interpreter training?). Both of these webinars were really interesting, and provided a clear overview on the two subjects with precious comments and observations by the lecturers, based on their extensive experience. I would definitely recommend watching the videos, to my opinion, they are useful both for students and trainers, as well as for working and already seasoned interpreters (especially the first one).

And now to the foreign lecturers we had at our Faculty of arts in Ljubljana. The Department of Romance languages hosted the renowned French traductologue Jean-Réné Ladmiral, translator and philosopher, who is famous for its work Traduire - les théorèmes de la traduction. Since his work is important in the translation studies field, translation students from our department were also warmly welcomed to attend and it was a pleasure to see the room packed with young people during the three days (despite the age difference and the more traditional approach with schemes + white chalk&green board, if I may add ... What is that? The presentation? Oh, yes, PowerPoint ... no, no, no ppt here ;)).

In the meantime, it seems as if spring managed to sneak in ... hooray!

He gave three lectures, the first one on the desire to translate (la libido interpretandi), the second on theory in translation and the last one on the esthetics in translation. Yes, no word on proper interpreting there (as in oral translation - hate this denomination!), but still I find some of his ideas could be transposed to the interpreting sphere as well - or it's just me and my twisted mind that sees a link to interpreting even when there is no (obvious one).

Like the theory on translation, the interpreting theory is also a descriptive one and not as mathematically straightforward and clear as many people think, and indeed ourselves sometimes wish. But it is there and mainly aims to describe the process, the results, the mechanisms and norms, the role of translators and interpreters, the development that this profession is rapidly undergoing in the last years and decades and so on. I believe interpreting theory is a vast field and as I've heard it and read it many times - still rather unexploited so it offers a great variety of possible research topics which in turn reinforce the theory.

However, as prof. Ladmiral said some translators - and interpreters for that matter - disregard theory as not useful and unnecessary, claiming that they only deal with practice and that they cannot really apply any theory to their work since it is either too general or too specific and targeted to only a small segment of (a particular) language or discourse. True, not everything can be used in all kinds of situations, but still, I firmly believe that knowing some theory and following what is being studied is important. Even trained interpreters with years and years of practice can gain and learn new stuff from theory, or at least reinforce what they already know, intuitively sense and practice. It is important either way and I am not saying this only because it relates to my research topic, really! Of course we know of some great untrained interpreters, but as the profession is evolving, so is the theory and I believe that interpreters should be familiar with it and at least now, where to go and get information - from theory or practice and experience from other colleagues. Especially now, with the Endless Possibilities (literally :)), the IntJC, the webinars and all other options the WWW has to offer. So yes, besides being curious about the current political and social issues, let's nurture the curiosity also regarding our profession and the more theoretical aspects of it. It will help us improve our knowledge and become better, more skilled interpreters (practice without reflection and constant monitoring cannot enhance our performance).

Enough for today. In one of the following posts, I will tell you more about our second lecturer that week,  a Portuguese interpreter and professor doing her PhD research on gestures in interpreting - stay tuned!

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