Translation in the limelight at this fall's ABC meetings in Cambridge


ABC 69th Annual Convention
27-30 October 2004
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Translation in the limelight at this fall's ABC meetings in Cambridge

Translation is central to business communication: this fact is well recognized judging by the number of papers on this theme to be presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Business Communication (ABC) scheduled to take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between 27 and 30 October 2004.

The ABC Convention, which brings together communications experts from all over the world, will have as its major focus the influence of technology on business communication. This is of such importance in translation that researchers from Canada, Scotland and the United States will reflect on the resulting challenges in professional communication.

In his paper on professional renewal, James Archibald, director of Translation Studies at McGill University and ABC vice president for Canada, will focus on the necessity of upgrading professionals' skills in the language industries, including those of translators, writers, co-writers and revisers among others. In his view, this has become imperative in light of the ubiquitous presence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the business world. Witness the growing multilingualism of the World Wide Web. In their study of the "Top 100 Global Companies" on the "Forbes 2000 List," Rod Carveth, who teaches advertising and public relations at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and one of his master's degree students, Laura Rahuba, reveal that while most international corporate websites allow for translation into English and other languages, not all do. This seems to be the case in a number of multinational businesses notwithstanding the status of English or the national language(s) in the country where the headquarters are located. In her analysis of corporate press releases issued in the biotechnology sector, Yvonne McLaren, translation lecturer in the School of Management and Languages at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, compares approaches to this business communication genre in British and French companies. Through extensive corpus analysis, she identifies obvious similarities between English and French texts, but highlights as well significant differences, arguing that her findings will enhance our knowledge of generic conventions across languages and cultures and the transfer of meaning in translated texts increasingly found on multilingual websites. From his perspective, Prof. Robert Rasberry, who teaches in the Cox School of Business (Southern Methodist University) in Dallas, criticizes the poor quality of source texts in English in the business world. According to him, translation and intercultural communication problems are the result of poor English communication and writing skills. In order to rectify this situation, Prof. Rasberry feels that business communication and translation programs must improve the teaching of writing in source languages because of the fact that writers and translators in intercultural communication contexts are duty-bound to ensure the quality of comprehension among linguistically and culturally distinct groups, whether this be on the web or in more traditional interpersonal relations.

This abundance of studies on translation issues in the business world underscores the growing importance of the language professions in business communication.

The complete convention program may be found on the Internet.

Source: Orbi-Info, Vol. 2, No. 12

Contact: jak.archibald [at] (J. Archibald), Translation Studies, McGill University
Association for Business Communication website