Organizing information into neat, readily recognizable categories that are easy to understand makes many people feel secure in their knowledge. However, this tendency can result in binaristic and reductionist thinking, or the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in fundamental, simple and incomplete terms that are presented as explaining the complexity sufficiently. The articles collected in this issue of TTR upset the complacent binary cart by looking beyond the traditional reductionism that often underpins discussions on minority and migration. Rather than simply opposing conventional conceptions of dominant and dominated, major/ity and minor/ity, or the migrant other and Indigenous, Brian J. Baer and Nike K. Pokorn, Maud Gonne, Sarah Neelsen, and Gillian Lane-Mercier, for example, have taken a far more nuanced look at these relationships in their case studies from two major geographic areas: North America (Canada, the USA) and Europe (Belgium, Germany). Moreover, the receptivity to complexity that we note in all the case studies extends to an understanding of translation as a complex phenomenon (Marais, 2013), which is not limited to oral or written linguistic transfer. In fact, translation as a complex phenomenon of transformative processes and practices is the concept of translation that has been retained by all of the authors, most notably Karen Lorraine Cresci, Maud Gonne, Eva C. Karpinski, Anne Malena and Julie Tarif, and Carmen Ruschiensky. Instead of simply comparing linguistic border-crossings between the source and target texts, comparisons sustained by the presumed, and questionable, “linearity or bi-directionality of translation,” Eva C. Karpinski, for example, examines “complex processes of languaging” (see her contribution in this issue), or “a process of making meaning and shaping knowledge and experience through language” (Swain, 2006, p. 98), to reveal translation to be “an open-ended possibility of multiple materializations and becomings” (Karpinksi). For her part, Maud Gonne refers specifically to complexity theory in her contribution. Complexity theory is the study of apparently complex and chaotic systems, which can self-organize into a coherent system. Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque (2017) explain that, while the initial response to complexity is often the fear of chaos, research shows that agents, especially creative agents, will find order in chaos through self-organization thanks to their tolerance of, even receptiveness to, complexity. The first group of articles in this issue deals with translation in Canada. By questioning received ideas, considering simultaneously the textual past and present, and moving beyond official dualism by listening to minority, including Aboriginal, voices, the four contributions upend traditional views of translation in order to take account of unexpected elements that allow for the identification of the many different yet connected parts that compose Canada’s multifaceted sociolinguistic landscape. First, the existence of a Canadian tradition of egalitarian translation is put under scrutiny; second, how translation and language can be mobilized to reaffirm First Nations, Métis and Inuit sociolinguistic identity on at least one university campus is examined; third, the role of translation “afterlives” in conserving the past while creating in the present is analyzed; fourth, translation and “languaging” as conduits to “multiple becomings” is explored. In “Relire l’histoire de la traduction littéraire au Canada : d’une tradition de traduction à des amorces de traditions imprévisibles,” Gillian Lane-Mercier provides an insightful and highly original analysis of the role of literary translation in the evolution of power relations between Québec’s Francophone majority and Anglophone minority since 1976, with particular attention to the cultural revitalization through increased translation into French that the latter has experienced since the mid-1990s. Her analysis of this minority/majority dynamic defies the traditional dominant/dominated classification, revealing a more complex situation that brings to light the gap between, on …
- Marais, Kobus (2013). Translation Theory and Development Studies: A Complexity Theory Approach. London, Routledge.
- Meylaerts, Reine (2017). “Studying Language and Translation Policies in Belgium: What can We Learn from a Complexity Theory Approach?” Parallèles, 29, 1, pp. 45-59.
- Swain, Merrill (2006). “Languaging, Agency and Collaboration in Advanced Second Language Proficiency.” In H. Byrnes, ed. Advanced Language Learning: The Contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky. London, Continuum, pp. 95-108.
- Thomson, Paula and S. Victoria Jaque (2017). “Understanding Creativity in the Performing Arts.” In Creativity and the Performing Artist. Behind the Mask. London, Academic Press (Elsevier), pp. 3-16.