AMU hosts 1st national meet on translation and interpreting language

AMU’s Institute of Culture and Language Research (ICLR) has launched its 2-day 1st national conference on ‘Quality Translation and Interpreting for National Consensus’ at Main Campus beginning from 2nd to 3rd April, 2021. Delegates of Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Science and Higher Education graced the event.  Click here to see the pictures

The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dr Hirut Kasaw, gracing the program, said, translation and culture are interlinked and it is the culture that gives birth to language that further mirrors the cultural magnificence of any nation to both internal and external audiences. In that context, culture does impinge upon source and target language profoundly; hence, translation is an important tool that needs to be professionalized and made organizational that will represent our culture and tradition to nations speaking different languages and vice verse. It will enable us to know the vivid foreign literatures and mirror ours to them.

She further said adding that, it in fact, fosters love, bonhomie and camaraderie within nation and I strongly believe that higher education institution plays great role and all must collaborate with the institution that’s given responsibility to work in this regard. Translation as a profession will receive great attention and care, hence, we select trainers and prepare curriculum keeping all its need and requirements. It will cement our social relations by bringing people closer, strengthening culture and consolidating sovereignty per se.

University President, Dr Damtew Darza, drawing attention on Battle of Adwa, said, this war was caused due to grave misinterpretation of language; especially Article XVII of the Treaty of Wuchale stated that the emperor of Ethiopia ‘could’ have recourse to the good offices of the Italian government in his dealings with other foreign powers, but the Italian text of the treaty had the word ‘must.’ So based on their own interpretation, Italians proclaimed a protectorate over Ethiopia. In September 1890, Menelik-II repudiated their claim and in 1893 he officially denounced the entire treaty. So an attempt by Italians to impose a protectorate over Ethiopia by force was confounded by their defeat at Adwa on March 1, 1896.

Taking a leaf from above interpretational fiasco, we know this field has tremendous impact on national development and Ethiopian diverse culture with over 80 languages can’t afford to be lenient. Hence, I reiterate my unflinching support when Ethiopian government is implementing new policies on use of language including indigenous and sign lingoes so that this field get its due, he stressed.

Research and Community Service Vice President, Mr Behailu Merdekios, while welcoming the gathering informed the cross section of people as how translation and interpretation came into being in medieval era and how misinterpretation of Wuchale Treaty’s Article XVII that led Italy and Ethiopia into war. So, interpretation & translation has great economic, political and religious consequences on overall growth of a nation. The language plays crucial role in every aspect of life; hence, its interpretation and translation has to be done with professional aptitude and great sense of accountability.

In that context, sensing the urgency of professionalizing this trade that would bring consensus in different sectors, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Science and Higher Education have chosen AMU to launch undergraduate level program so that we can produce professionals in this arena that bound to have profound impact in building bridges between two streams of different languages in Ethiopia and abroad; therefore, this 1st ever national deliberation will be a way forward, he averred.

Mrs Tigist Alemayehu, Director for Ethiopian National Association for Deaf, said, she being deaf herself faced many challenges; at the beginning, communication is a barrier because in Ethiopia, there is not a single training centre available for deaf people. I learnt the art of interpretation at my church and joined Addis Ababa University to pursue BA in Ethiopian Sign language; likewise many face such problems. You know Ethiopia has around 5 million deaf people who need training in sign language; I hope government will pay attention to our plight. She communicates with husband and 2 kids with sign language while all of them are able to hear and talk.

The host of program, Dr Seid Ahmed, ICLR Director, citing Ottoman Empire’s foresight on importance of translation, said, their timely attention proved to be crucial for their national revolution that can be a lesson for Ethiopia. Nevertheless, with launching of BA program in Translation and Interpretation at AMU will create a system that will produce professionals who will fill the lacuna in this arena.

Officials from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Science & Higher Education, AMU, regional & zonal administration, many universities, Ethiopian National Association for Deaf and other stakeholders were in attendance.

(Communication Affairs Directorate)