Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondSo we've been talking about spaces of translation. We've looked at the city, we've looked at bridges, we've looked at things that bring spaces together and divide them. Gender, race, sexuality these are all things that potentially bring spaces of translation together, or make it harder for two given communities to communicate. So let's think about gender as a space of translation itself, of course gender itself is a word that gets translated. It is an English word it's an English word that has an international purchase that gets talked about and used in several spaces whether they're Anglophone or not.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsThe word has been recently translated in several ways and both in within academic theory, but also in everyday life in policymaking in European countries, in European countries that are not anglophone. As every word is gender is a highly politicized word, word. Every word is political but with gender we immediately have a space, a conflicted space of translation. What does gender mean? What does gender equality mean? What are we trying to achieve when we when we talk about gender equality? So gender in itself is a space of translation a conflicted space of translation different meanings can be attached to this word. In turn we have seen recently movements spreading all around Europe using this word the word gender.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 secondsThink for example about transgender liberation movements, movements of people who think that they weren't assigned the right gender at birth. The word gender is very useful for that particular movement instead of the word sex to make a point about the difference between who they feel they are and who society thinks they are. The transgender movement is of course not the only political movement that in recent years has used the words gender, the word gender and translated it into their own practice and translated it into a series of national languages.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 secondsSo we've seen how gender is a conflicted word, in translating it different people with different political agendas will get different meanings out of this English word and translate it in different ways into their national languages. Recently all across Europe in countries such as Germany, France, Poland and Italy the word gender has been translated. It has been translated by a movement that call itself the anti-gender movement, their claim is that the English word gender when it gets translated into European policy making or educational projects it, it's translation operates a sort of imperialist project.

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 secondsWhere American ideas about what it means to be a woman, what it means to a man, are being imposed over national cultures so this movement is also using the English word gender is also translating it but it's translating it as to reject it. And create a space within the city to make a political statement about what it means to be a woman or to be a man.

How we imagine translation

We often imagine translation as a link between two distinct locations. One of the most common metaphors of translation is that of a bridge connecting two islands, where the islands are two separate languages, two cultures, and possibly two national spaces.

The drawing below traces a personal map of languages and cultures. It is inspired by pictures drawn by many students over the years when asked to produce a graphic image of their own experience of languages and translation. The drawing uses islands and ‘bridges’ as visual representations of translation understood as a way of connecting places and people.

A diagram showing the relationship between language and culture

This is indeed one role which translation can play, but, as we have seen when discussing linguistic landscapes, translation can also be found within one location where multiple languages co-exist, clash, overlap or are creatively mixed.

Whether within one place (for instance, the public spaces of a city) or across distinct cultural boundaries (as in the case of global awareness-raising campaigns such as those for human rights), translation can be used to bring people together, but also to divide them. One of the things we learn from translation practice is that ‘cultures’ or communities are not homogeneous: different ‘native speakers’ speak different variants of their language (or sociolects) which are affected by factors such as class, education, age, gender, or sexual orientation. When negotiating between different communities of native speakers and different languages, those factors remain important.

Ideas about gender and sexuality are themselves translated – even if at times the actual words used to talk about them may stay the same. In the language of Equality & Diversity, for example, ‘gender’ may function as a tool to advocate for greater inclusion and the term can be used, whether in translation or as an English loan, to further a global human rights agenda. However, the choice to translate the term or leave it in English is far from straightforward – and even when not translated, the word ‘gender’ may actually be used in very distinct and differing ways. In the video extract, Dr Serena Bassi talks about how gender and sexuality, and attitudes towards them, can be decisive factors in determining how translation works between two localities and groups.

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This video is from the free online course:

Working with Translation: Theory and Practice

Cardiff University