Who says who interprets? On the possible existence of an interpreter system

23.03.2023 @ 14:00 – 15:00 Europe/Madrid Timezone

Once a month, the Translation Studies Reading Group of the Trinity Centre for Literary & Cultural Translation comes together to discuss an article recently published in a Translation Studies journal.

The group is free and open to anyone in the world to join in with, irrespective of academic level or affiliation. All you need to do is read the article before the group meets and sign up. Everyone is encouraged to join in with the conversation and add their own viewpoints. We are not able to send the articles to people who do not have access to them.

The details of the article we will read for this month’s Reading Group are below. Please follow the link for access to the full article.

Anthony Pym

Who says who interprets? On the possible existence of an interpreter system

If we ask who is selected to interpret in a particular setting, who is most trusted, the answers rarely concern interpreting as an independent social system. Different legal systems decide whom they trust as translators; institutional employers carry out their own exams; education systems provide signals of competence; the systems of controlled knowledge (science) and its diffusion (news) tend to rely on their own members who ‘know languages’ and, as has been seen in the case of pandemic-related information, rarely display constant trust in wholly independent interpreters. Analysis of interpreters’ trustworthiness in terms of Luhmann’s sociology can thus start from dependencies between at least four possible types of system: interpreters supply utterance; legal systems assume truthful utterance; education systems attest the relative trustworthiness of utterance; systems of knowledge control and diffusion (science, the military, government information, news) assume shared skills or ad hoc modes of professional hybridity. On this view, an interpreter system is only sometimes able to create its own signals of trustworthiness and have those signals accepted. In many instances, it must rely on intersystemic relations, which are often irritations ensuing from the way one social system is given to not understanding another.


Marta Cabanillas
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About Marta Cabanillas

Traductora editorial y literaria de francés e italiano a español. Socia de ACE Traductores. Docente de ELE en la Escola d'Idiomes de la UVic-UCC y editora de material didáctico. Doctoranda y profesora asociada del Grado en Traducción, Interpretación y Lenguas Aplicadas de la UVic-UCC.
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