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Treaty of Waitangi – Found in Translation

The New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) announced the launch of an ambitious project on Waitangi Day 2016: the Treaty Times Thirty project. To celebrate the Society’s 30th anniversary over 90 translators will work together to translate both the English and the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document. NZSTI recently opened participation to non-NZSTI members. Would you like to be one of the 90 translators? Continue reading “Treaty of Waitangi – Found in Translation”

The internet: a catalyst for language extinction?

What do you see when you think about the internet? Like The Guardian‘s Holly Young, many of us will visualise ‘something hazy, suspended somewhere above our heads […] composed of tiny, moving fragments of information and simultaneous conversations […], limitless’. Continue reading “The internet: a catalyst for language extinction?”

Facing up to the realities of a multilingual, multicultural society

Word cloudOver the past two decades New Zealand has become home to over 160 different languages, making it one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world (Spoonley & Bedford 2012), and that superdiversity is forecasted to increase even further (Statistic New Zealand 2013). And yet, little has been done at a national level to engage with the opportunities, and challenges, such linguistic diversity presents. The recent Lining up Language: Navigating Policy and Programmes conference organised by the Office of Ethnic Communities, and the current development of a Regional Languages Strategy by COMET Auckland may be signs that things are starting to change.

Hailed as the precursor to a national languages policy, Aoteareo: Speaking for Ourselves, a report published by the Ministry of Education in 1992, made the case for the implementation of a national decision-making system in the area of language issues, within a bicultural framework, by exploring ‘the benefits of adopting a policy to maintain, enrich and expand the diversity of languages used by New Zealanders’. Such a policy never came to fruition, and all language stakeholders – te reo Māori speakers and Māori communities, migrant communities, schoolchildren, adult learners, language service providers including translation and interpreting agencies, and their clients, central and local government, civil society organisations etc. – have operated in a vacuum, with patchy support and patchy results.

Table showing the ethnic make-up of Auckland
Auckland is a superdiverse city.

Many interested parties argue that the status quo is not a tenable solution, and that the time is ripe for some political leadership in this area. A number of subsidiary language initiatives have been developed to try and fill the vacuum, and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission published a draft national languages policy in 2010 calling for our political leaders to face up to the realities of our superdiverse society.

It is in this context that COMET Auckland was given the thumbs up by Auckland Council for its regional languages strategy. The draft strategy is available online for consultation, and you can download your submission form here to give your opinion. COMET CEO Susan Warren says that New Zealand urgently needs a national languages policy, and I certainly support efforts in this area. If implemented, the Auckland Languages Strategy might be a first step into that direction, and may potentially lead to a redefinition and a better understanding of the role of translation and interpreting in today’s society.

January 2014 news

This is a brief review of translation and language news from around the world, along with the links to the relevant content. Let us know if you come across interesting online content!

Poet and French-English translator Pierre Joris was asked to share his rules for translation, but he replied that he’d much rather explain how he sees himself and why he translates. Why do you translate?

With the New Year, industry pundits like to reflect on the year that just ended and make predictions for the coming year. Adam Blau of Blau Consulting shares his insights about the growth of the translation industry, payment processes, machine translation, and increasing numbers of consultants and trainers.

Similar to the issue debated in New Zealand in April 2013, the Washington Post published an editorial on 3 January 2014 calling for special visas for Afghan interpreters.

Alan Yu of NPR reports on the findings of recent research on language and how it shapes one’s cognitive processes. Speakers of different languages not only see the world differently but also think differently.

S.G.

What it takes to be a translator

Mox is a young but well educated translator. Two PHDs, six languages… and he hardly earns the minimum wage. Find out more about Mox’s adventures on his blog.

Comic strip depicting two people at a party: the first says 'Hii, my name is Mox and I'm a translator', the other replies 'How cool! I spent two weeks in Norway and picked some words up. Do you think I can do translations?'

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