|Göteborgs universitets publikationer
Accounting for Translations
Författare och institution:
Hervé Corvellec (Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI))
Management Accounting in Europe: Engaging Research and Practice (1/3), Palermo (Italien), December 1997 ,
Grassroot Europeans increasingly use English to communicate with one another even though Europe, as a continent, remains a mosaic of national languages. This is particularly true of business administration for which English is the unchallenged lingua franca, as witnessed by the use of Robert Anthony's, Philip Kotler's or Edgard Schein's language as the official idiom of many European transnational corporations. Most business decisions, most commercial transactions and most teaching sessions, however, are traded in local languages. In practice, most European academics and most business people are routinely putting on the cloths of translators. But how prepared are we to meet the challenges of translation? School teaches us the grounds. Dictionaries can provide us with an efficient help for technical terminology. But what about the daily use of non technical terms or neologisms such as empowerment, re-engineering, benchmarking or the particularly challenging accountability? From a business education point of view, for example, how many students are familiar with basic notions such as "source language" or "target language"? How many have heard of "semes" or the "theory of correspondences"? How many, likewise, know how to map a semantic field? Not so many I would guess. The crux is that by ignoring translation, by overlooking its (omni)presence, cross-linguistic management communication tends to uncritically adhere to the assumption of languages being mere vectors of expressions. There are strong motives, though, to believe that languages are vectors of representation as well. Languages are visions of the world. Going from one language to another involves moving from a way of constructing reality to another. Translating involves subtle and creative decontextualizing and recontextualizing. It systematically supposes meeting and overcoming the resistance that meaning opposes to understanding, and to do so, what the more is, under strict constraints of adequacy, conciseness and precision. The task is difficult and definitely not trite. Let us account for its importance.
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