Translating and Interpreting Across Media

Exploring the Relevance of (Inter)mediality for Language Pedagogy

Thursday 16 May 2013
Conference Room 1, Manchester Conference Centre

Limited spaces available. Register now at

Organized by
Luis Pérez-González and Mona Baker
Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies,
Division of Languages & Intercultural Studies
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
University of Manchester

About this event.The failure of translation-based language teaching to help learners develop cross-cultural, communicative competences for professional work has been widely acknowledged in the literature – with specialists in second language acquisition, translator training and specialized language instruction proposing different ways to reform current pedagogical practices and curricular structures. Against this backdrop, the ongoing shift from an electronic to a digital culture has brought into sharp relief further limitations of translation-based language teaching, some of which have received far less attention to date.

As new textual practices that coordinate text and images become the norm, multimodal forms of literacy that allow users to analyse and retrieve meaning conveyed through different types of semiotic resources need to be articulated, taught and acquired. At the same time, technological advances underpinning the emergence of new text forms are also promoting changes in the consumption and distribution of translated texts – often creating new discourse communities where text producers and users interact with one another, as well as engage with the values and narratives inscribed in the texts. Such widespread collaborative forms of translation are boosting the visibility of translation and interpreting activities in new settings, increasingly turning language and intercultural mediation into non-referential expressions of subjectivity and affectivity.

Given the centrality of the notion of ‘medium’ to these developments, whether in terms of its materiality or the pedagogical/theoretical discourses that it fosters, this event will revolve around the theme of (inter)mediality in translated and interpreted texts. In addition to a range of presentations on different aspects of this theme, the event will include ample opportunity for discussion and audience participation.


9.00 – 9.30      Registration and Coffee

9.30 – 9.40      Welcome and Introduction to the Event
Dr Luis Pérez-González (University of Manchester)

9.40 – 10.40    Translating Between Media
Dr Karin Littau (University of Essex)

In this presentation I will attempt two things. The first is to outline the landscape or, as Marshall McLuhan called it, the ‘environment’ of intermediality. The second is to locate the role and nature of translation in this environment, especially in view of the fact that this environment is rapidly changing. If intermediality is that state in which there is no settled dominant medium but always several interrelated media, remediating, transforming and jostling one another in directions unsupported by a host medium, then translation occupies the role of the bond between them. As will become clear, this role due to the nature of the media concerned, is not predominantly linguistic; but neither for that reason is it not translation. The question for translation, as for cultural production in general, is how is it remediated in the intermedial landscape in which it acts.

10.40 – 11.10  Coffee Break

11.10 – 12.10  Translating Media Content in/for the Digital Culture
Dr Luis Pérez-González (University of Manchester)

The tight control that the industry has historically exerted over audiovisual translators has meant that some professional practices have remained unchanged during most of the 20th century. Prime among these conventions is the premise that translators can only intervene in the linguistic component of audiovisual texts. Under this conceptualisation of audiovisual translation as a process of textual manipulation enabling the shift from spoken to written language, the literature on audiovisual translator training and foreign language pedagogy has been dominated by discourses of pragmatic and representational loss in translation. Over the last decade, however, developments in communication technologies have brought about the proliferation of self-mediated textualities, new amateur translation (mainly subtitling) agencies and innovative intermedial strategies. This presentation delivers an overview of emergent transformative subtitling practices in the digital culture; it explores how intermediality is used to promote different forms of subjective and engaged spectatorial experiences, and considers the pedagogical implications of these developments.

12.10 – 13.00  Discussion

13.00 – 14.00  Lunch (served at venue)

14.00 – 15.00  Performability: What Can Theatre Teach us about Translation?
Dr Geraldine Brodie (University College London)

Theatre presents a multifaceted site for the study of translation. The range of collaborative activity and terminology around translation for the theatre demonstrates the differing degrees of agency and visibility that constitute the translational act. Furthermore, the performance aspects of theatre techniques can inform the process of translation beyond those pages destined for the stage. This presentation investigates the role of performance in translation, exploring the significance of translation/version/adaptation terminology within theatre and what it reveals, or conceals, about the agency of the translator(s) and collaborative theatre practices. I will suggest that these elements of theatre translation can not only be applied when researching other specialisms within translation and interpretation, but can also assist in the teaching and learning of translation.

15.00 – 16.00   Extending Interconnectedness in Translation and Interpreting: Implications for Signed Language and Spoken Language Pedagogy
Prof Jemina Napier (Heriot-Watt University)

Intermediality refers to interconnectedness. As a means of expression and exchange, languages depend on, and refer to, various text types and increasingly draw on different media. Signed languages depend on the interconnectedness between the signed modality and the speech modality, as evidenced through language contact between, for example, English and British Sign Language (BSL) in the form of mouthing and fingerspelling. Signed language interpreting relies on bimodality as practitioners move between two language forms, and training of signed language interpreters has benefitted from the digital age with the availability of video media. But what of the interconnectedness between signed and spoken language interpreting? Facility with language can be extended by exposing students to bimodal language learning, and to various media to enhance their understanding of how languages work in context, thus equipping them with a greater means of expression and exchange. These ideas will be discussed within the context of the new innovative undergraduate programme at Heriot-Watt University, which enables interpreting students to study BSL alongside another spoken language.

16.00 – 16.50  Discussion

16.50 – 17.00  Closing Remarks
Prof Mona Baker (University of Manchester)

Register online via:
Registration fee: £50 (includes lunch and refreshments).
Places are limited so early booking is advised

Posted by The Editors on 29th Apr 2013
in Conference Diary

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