Takeda, Kayoko and Baigorri-Jalón, Jesús, eds. (2016): New Insights in the History of Interpreting. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 278 p.[Notice]

  • Binhua Wang

…plus d’informations

  • Binhua Wang
    University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Due to the evanescent nature of interpreting and generally subordinate status of interpreters as agents in historical events, interpreting activities have seen much fewer records than translation and even less research on their history. This new book entitled New Insights in the History of Interpreting is a valuable collective effort in locating the few references to interpreting and interpreters in historical archives and personal accounts and in analyzing how interpreting has been practised over time and space as well as issues involved in it. The book is a themed volume of ten original articles about interpreting and interpreters in inter-lingual and cross-cultural communication through history. Collecting eight papers from the international symposium on interpreting history that was held at Rikkyo University in 2014 and two other select pieces, this volume records and discusses interpreting practices, recruitment of interpreters, and issues and challenges that interpreters have faced in diplomacy, colonization, religion, war, and occupation in different historical periods and in various regions of the world such as East Asia, America, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union. One major value of historical study is to discover ‘new’ historical facts hidden in the vast number of archives and to make new interpretations of “old’” historical facts. This book represents a good effort in providing new insights in the history of interpreting across different regions of the world. Four chapters (Chapter 1, 4, 8 and 9) provide new discoveries about interpreting history in East Asia. Rachel Lung, who is well-known for her research on interpreting history in Early Imperial China (Lung 2011), defines the multiple roles of Sillan interpreters in first-millennium East Asian exchanges. In an attempt to clarify the idiosyncratic title of “Sillan (ancient Korean) interpreters,” she identified the thirty-eight references to Sillan interpreters in Japanese monk Ennin’s (794‒864) travelogue of his China sojourn (838–847). Her chapter outlines finer categories of these interpreters, whose duties were multifarious: including not only language mediation but also liaison; networking; coordination and marine travel consultancy. She argues that such multiplicity in tasks and roles points to a major distinction between official interpreters and civilian interpreters. Torikai Kumiko introduces Oranda Tsūji, a group of Dutch interpreters in Japanese history, as depicted in four historical novels written by Yoshimura Akira, which explore the life of Nagasaki Tsūji in the social context of pre-modern Japan during later years of the Edo period. As a step furthering her research on interpreting activities in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal (Takeda 2010), Takeda describes the diverse experiences of Japanese interpreters in the post-World War II occupation period (1945-1952): Some interpreted for the war crime trials; others were persecuted as war criminals; and others served foreign military occupiers. The research reveals issues and risks faced by wartime interpreters and local interpreters serving foreign military occupiers, which points to the vulnerable position of interpreters in conflicts due to the complex nature of their work. Also on wartime interpreters, Shi-chi Mike Lan gives an account of the fate of Taiwanese interpreters who served in the Japanese army and were convicted for crimes committed while working as interpreters, formal or informal, for the Japanese occupation army during the Second World War. Two chapters (Chapter 2 and 3) deal with the Spanish history of interpreting. Icíar Alonso-Araguás provides an account of the evolution of interpreting practices of explorers and conquerors in Spanish America, which is evident in the comparison between the initial journeys of discovery (1492-1524) and the period of early colonial administration in America. Initially, Spanish explorers and conquerors resorted to Old World traditional strategies to solve their linguistic and cultural challenges ...

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