Intralinea 3.0 – without Giovanni

The Editors


©inTRAlinea & (2016).
"Intralinea 3.0 – without Giovanni", inTRAlinea .
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On 27th July 2016 Giovanni Nadiani died after a long battle with cancer. Giovanni was a dialect poet, playwright, cabaret artist, musician, essayist, translator, refined thinker, inspiring teacher, founding member of this journal and, above all, our great friend.

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On a mild winter’s day, in 1997, Giovanni was walking through the university district of Bologna when he bumped into two fellow students from the PhD programme in Translation Studies: Federico Zanettin and Elio Ballardini. The three decided to stop for a drink and the conversation soon turned to translation studies and the impact that new technology was having on the way that academic research was being produced and distributed. This led to the idea of starting a journal that was completely digital and entirely open access, two concepts that have since become very familiar but which were truly experimental in 1998. With the support of one of their tutors, Marcello Soffritti, the decision was made to launch the first Italian online-only journal on translation studies. It was Giovanni who came up with the idea for the name of the journal: “inTRAlinea”, which stood for traduzione in linea [online translation] and where the “intra” also represented interpretating and translation. This founding group soon expanded with the addition of two fellow students from the doctoral programme, Lucia Gunella and Nicolina Pomilio, and Silvia Bernardini, a colleague from the University of Bologna.

From the start, the idea was to maintain a high academic standard, while at the same time allowing room for playful experimentation. The decision was also made to promote translation as an activity, as well as an object of study, with a section devoted to original translations. Throughout, Giovanni’s energy, intelligence and passion for linguistic and literary research were the driving force behind the project.

In April 1998 the first issue of inTRAlinea was launched with the URL and with an editorial written by Giovanni, which began with the statement:

The most interesting ideas on translation are by now inextricably linked to the development of, so-called, new technologies.

The editorial went on to say that the purpose of this new journal was not to simply reproduce a paper-based journal in digital format, but to create an ongoing workshop (“cantiere” in Italian) in which there were sections that were more stable and institutional, that functioned as a conventional container of scientific research, and others which were more fluid and which were able to exploit the potential of what was then a new medium – in ways that were, as yet, hard to predict.

The inTRAlinea homepage in 1998

The other significant statement of purpose in the editorial was the intention to use Italian as the principal language of the journal. The aim was to begin experimenting with the use of Italian in the digital age and to provide a space in which it was possible to find an alternative to the dominance of English. You can read the full editorial here.

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In 2005 the website of the journal underwent its first major overhaul with the adoption of a content management system and the introduction of a bi-lingual interface:

The inTRAlinea homepage in 2005

The decision to include an English interface was prompted by the recognition that the journal was acquiring an international audience and that these non-Italian readers should be acknowledged and welcomed. This change did not detract from the journal’s stated intention of providing a privileged channel for research on translation written in Italian.

Over the following couple of years there were changes to the Editorial Board with the departure of Lucia, Nicolina, and Silvia and the arrival of Chris Rundle and Fabio Regattin, and the journal also became formally affiliated with the Department of Interpreting and Translation of the University of Bologna (then known as SITLeC) without, however, surrendering any of its editorial or financial independence.

Once again, it was Giovanni who wrote the editorial and took stock of how the journal had evolved over the first seven years of its life. Among other things, he observed that the Internet had had a clear impact on the way that academics were writing but that this tended to focus on the “real-time” advantages of digital publication and the easy distribution of ideas that it could promote, rather than on the editorial potential afforded by hypertexts. Giovanni also talked of the importance of adopting recognized, international, standards of quality control if Italian research on translation was to consolidate the international recognition that it was beginning to enjoy – a reference to the decision of the journal to adopt a double-blind refereeing system. You can read the full editorial here.

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In 2010 inTRAlinea underwent its second major overhaul with a new, English-language only interface, and a new URL:

This shift away from its Italian roots was both a positive recognition of the large international audience that the journal had acquired as well as a sober recognition of the need to adapt to a more hostile political environment and the increasing pressure being put on Italian (and European) academia by systems of evaluation that were barely tailored to research in the humanities, let alone research in Italian.

So, although we were determined to continue to publish in a wide variety of languages (currently we have articles in English, Italian, Spanish, German, French and Polish), we decided that the journal should adopt a more international profile that would enhance its accessibility to scholars worldwide.

This more international profile was also reflected in the addition of three new scholars from outside Italy to the Editorial Board: Federico Federici, Gabriela Saldahna and Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody.

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And so we come to the present. We are entering a new phase in the life of the journal, one without Giovanni.

Perhaps the most significant way in which this online-only journal has evolved away from a paper-based model of publication is in terms of its editorial flexibility, its low cost, and its open access.

Our annual volume is open-ended and we can add new articles to it as they arrive and complete the refereeing process. The low costs of online publishing (and in particular the evolution of very sophisticated content management systems) make it possible to be entirely self-financed and, of course, to be entirely open access.

As our readers will be aware, the issue of open access scholarship has been the object of much discussion in recent years. The traditional economic model at the basis of most Western academic publishing in journals is being challenged by an increasing number of scholars who find themselves being evaluated on the basis of their “impact” while at the same time realising that their impact could be much greater if all potential readers could gain easy access to their work. The rapid rise of online research communities such as and Research Gate are an indication of how strong the desire is among scholars to find alternative ways of making their research known.

The closed system of expensive journals who are indexed within expensive (and closed) indexing systems also poses another serious ethical issue in that they create economic barriers that exclude scholars from poorer countries, both from accessing the research being published there and from being published within these constellations themselves.

The issue of research evaluation and the domination of English is also becoming very critical. The long-term implications of the pressure being put on the humanities to make itself open to more “empirical” forms of evaluation are extremely difficult to gauge, but it seems highly unlikely that they can ever favour genuine philosophical enquiry. Linked to this problem is the fact that the main academic indexes, such as Scopus and the Web of Science, are worryingly Anglo-centric. Long and glorious intellectual traditions are in danger of being ignored because their publishing cultures do not fit the parameters that these private indexes have established

We feel it is important, then, that journals such as inTRAlinea continue to exist; journals that maintain rigorous academic standards without needing to erect any barriers to access and without homogenizing all intellectual traditions into a single uninspiring mass. And it is significant that it is those same “new technologies” that originally inspired Giovanni, Elio and Federico to found the journal that makes it possible for us to do this.

In presenting the 2016 volume, then, we wish to remember Giovanni and acknowledge the huge debt that we owe him. Without his energy, intellectual drive and rigour this journal would not have come into being. We also wish to remember him as a much-loved friend who will be sorely missed by us all.

©inTRAlinea & (2016).
"Intralinea 3.0 – without Giovanni", inTRAlinea .
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL:

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