Monash University
4597687_monash_80973.pdf (12.66 MB)

Multilingual professionals: translators, interpreters and cultural identities

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posted on 2017-01-31, 05:15 authored by Badalotti, Floriana
The T&I profession hinges on multilingual and multicultural competence, and leads translators and interpreters to being located at the point of contact of two cultures. Translation (intended here in the broadest sense, of written and spoken texts) has been described as “an activity [which] is always doubly contextualised, since the text has a place in two cultures” (Bassnett & Lefevere, 1990:11). If both the text and the translational activity are acknowledged to have multiple locations, then the translator/interpreter could also be considered as doubly or multiply positioned. These ‘multiple positions’ raise the question of the cultural and linguistic identifications of language professionals. The role played by language(s) in the formation and performance of identities (personal, social, cultural, etc.) is well known and researched, yet professional multilinguals' experiences and points of view are rarely considered; the affective aspects of multilingualism have up to now received marginal attention in Translation Studies, traditionally more focused on textual analysis and translation as a process rather than on its agents. With multilingualism becoming a prominent feature in communicative situations of all kinds, the professional figures of translators and interpreters have become more and more conspicuous. T/Is constitute a unique sample of multilingual individuals: because of the very nature of their job, and because multilingualism is for T/Is an actively pursued condition. This places them in a different position to ‘lay’ multilingual people, for whom translation can be a routine activity and multilingualism may not be a choice or have a bearing on their livelihood. T/Is can be said to belong to a new category of study: that of multilingual professionals, traditionally overlooked in the social study of language (Day & Wagner, 2007:393). In an attempt to answer Pym's appeal for “a sociology of […] mediators” (2006:2), this thesis presents data from a web-based survey with 65 T/Is across Australia on the topics of language history, use, feelings in different languages, and cultural and professional identifications. It attempts to address some of the unexplored social, cultural and psychological aspects of translators and interpreters as multilingual and multicultural professionals.


Principal supervisor

Rita Wilson

Additional supervisor 1

Jim Hlavac

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Languages, Cultures and Linguistics/Translation and Interpreting Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Arts

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