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​Translation flourishing through international networks

A South African, an Italian and a Hungarian end up together in a Belgian port. What might sound like the start of a stereotype-filled joke was actually the start of an enriching international collaboration in Translation Studies between three young academics.

Marike van der Watt (Stellenbosch University and KU Leuven), Paola Gentile (University of Trieste and University of Namur and a research fellow at SU​) and Fruzsina Kovács (Pázmány Péter Catholic University) met one another in Antwerp in 2018 at the KU Leuven's Centre for Translation Studies, or CETRA.

After that CETRA contact, they convened a panel at the ninth triennial European Society for Translation Studies (EST) congress in 2019 (held in Stellenbosch). Then came another successful collaboration with a special issue of the journal Translation Spaces.


In this issue, the emphasis is on what happens when Translation Studies, Reception Studies and Imagology are linked to investigate transnational image building. Put differently, how can we use these three disciplines to examine the way in which we create and perpetuate certain images of other countries, nationalities or groups? As they put it,

“Readers' images of a country are constructed on the basis of texts that are first selected for translation, for example, and the particular ways in which translated books are subsequently promoted and packaged within their specific book covers. Cultural images thus undergo an evolution: they are constantly re-elaborated, re-shaped, re-processed, and filtered through marketing, promotion and reviewing phases."

Luckily for everyone interested in the topic, the special issue is not the end of things. Marike van der Watt is not only busy with a PhD in Translation focusing on imagology (with Prof. Ilse Feinauer, the Ton and Anet Vosloo Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice, and Prof. Luc van Doorslaer of KU Leuven as supervisors). She is also involved in a transnational research project funded by the Nederlandse Taalunie (the Dutch Language Union) and executed in collaboration with the University of Trieste and KU Leuven: “Binnenlandse vogels, buitenlandse nesten: de hedendaagse Vlaamse literatuur in vertaling en haar relatie tot het Vlaamse letterenbeleid" [“Domestic birds, foreign nests: contemporary Flemish literature in translation and its relation to Flemish literary policy"].

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Festschrift for Prof. Ilse Feinauer

Prof. Ilse Feinauer is not only an exceptional researcher herself. She is also an academic who inspires and empowers others to do research. This is evident in the special volume of the journal Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus that has recently appeared. This festschrift had colleagues Prof. Harold Lesch and Mr Marius Swart as guest editors and focuses on the interplay between language practice and theory.

A foreword by her colleague of many years, Prof. Rufus Gouws, delineates Prof. Feinauer's remarkable contribution to a variety of research areas. It is followed by eight articles by various international and South African academics – and a number of students of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch.

The first article by Prof. Luc van Doorslaer, affiliated with the University of Tartu (Estonia) and KU Leuven (Belgium) and extraordinary professor (Translation) at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, focuses on how South Africa and South Africans are portrayed in Dutch-language newspapers – in other words, how is South Africa's image translated into Dutch.

Other international contributions are those of Prof. Anthony Pym and Prof. Myriam Vermeerbergen. Prof. Pym is extraordinary professor (Translation) in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, but is also affiliated with Rovira i Virgili University (Spain) and the University of Melbourne (Australia). His article focuses on cosmopolitan translation and how world views might be changed. Another colleague from the KU Leuven, Prof. Vermeerbergen, is one of the research associates at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. She collaborated with two South African sign language interpreters, Ananda and Banie van der Walt, to produce an article on a project to translate 110 Bible stories into South African Sign Language.

Naturally, local experts are not outdone by their international counterparts. Prof. Marné Pienaar (University of Johannesburg) has a contribution involving a comparative study of Afrikaans and Zulu translations of Adam Habib's South Africa's Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects. Prof. Kobus Marais (University of the Free State) links up with Prof. Feinauer's efforts to expand translation studies as an academic discipline in Africa and investigates the position of translation studies on the continent, with comparative translation as a particular focus.

The article by Ms Lelanie de Roubaix and Dr Amanda Lourens from the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch emphasises the visibility of the translator and the act of translation in reviews of translated English and Afrikaans novels.

Besides the foreword, Prof. Gouws also contributed an article to the volume. It places lexicographic data distribution and data pulling in the spotlight and suggests some improved lexicographic structures.

The final contribution is that of Prof. Lesch and Ms. Simoné Gambrell. They investigated interpreter training – specifically the development of aptitude tests for simultaneous interpreting.

From the variety of topics, the tremendous role played by Prof. Feinauer, the incumbent in the Ton and Anet Vosloo Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice, is most certainly evident. Congratulations to Prof. Feinauer and all the contributing authors!

  
  
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