abramdeswaan2017The European Academy of Yuste Foundation is once again participating in the Conference on Legal Translation for International Organisations, organised by the University of Salamanca (USAL). The conference is into its seventh year this year, and will take place from 20-24 March at USAL’s Translation and Interpreting Department.

The Foundation’s Director, Juan Carlos Moreno Piñero, gave a speech at the opening, explaining how the conference “fits with the objectives we work towards: promoting multilingualism and cultural diversity in Europe”. Following on from this, he reminded attendees of a recent exhibition promoted by the Foundation, The Nuremberg Interpreters, shown at the Assembly of Extremadura where Professor Jesús Baigorri is Commissioner. According to Moreno Piñero, “the interpreters were faithful in their translations of words from one language to another, and even knew to express emotions with their translations: a demanding task that went far beyond the cold semantic word-level”.

During his speech he also wanted to pay tribute to “all the translators who make it possible for the law to be a tool for mutual understanding in an unsettled world”, given that, as he see it, “they make interpretation into a tool for common understanding: something computers could never be a substitute for” because translators see the importance of nuance, emotion, and subjectivity. The Director of the Foundation also shared some words to remember those interpreters who “in modest surroundings, with few resources and scant financial reward, work for peace and justice just as much – or more than – the major dignitaries of the world”.

The inaugural lecture was given by Dutch sociologist Abram de Swaan, an academic from the European Academy of Yuste, who gave a talk entitled ‘Reflections on the Global Language System’. In his speech, he highlighted the fact that thanks to the interpreter, humankind can make itself understood and groups can connect with one another, with these connections constituting “a strongly ordered hierarchical pattern: the global linguistic system”. According to de Swann, the system has four levels: the great majority are ‘peripheral’ languages, spoken by a small minority; some 200 ‘central’ languages, generally defined and imposed by a nation state; a dozen ‘supercentral’ languages for long-distance communication, from Arabic to Swahili; and in the centre of the system, English – a ‘hypercentral’ language. The sociologist explained how he published his theory on the concept of a world language system for the first time 25 years ago, a theory that proved fruitful in the study of international publishing networks, global patterns in translation, and the distribution of films across the world.

Some of the international organisations attending the conference are the United Nations (UN), International Criminal Court (ICC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Central Bank (ECB), Translation Directorate of the European Commission (TDEC), European Parliament (EP), with additional participation from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEC).

Since 2008, the University of Salamanca’s Translation and Interpreting Department has organised the conference in collaboration with the Universities Contact Group (UCG) of IAMLADP and the European Academy of Yuste Foundation.