M2: Unit 3 – Q5.1 Answer

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One implication to consider is how translated personal narratives are made to conform to public narratives of the target setting. Research into interpreters working with refugees and asylum seekers suggests that some interpreters tend to improve and advise on applicants’ testimonies in order to shape personal narratives so that they are consistent with shared narratives of the receiving culture and its official institutions (see, for example, Barsky 2005). Other cases might include the translation of autobiography, eyewitness accounts and various types of testimony, made within some type of institutional or receiving culture.

Another implication might involve the agency of translators and interpreters and the choices they make concerning what they translate/interpret, how, and for whom. Volunteer translators and activist interpreters may choose to translate/interpret voices that they consider to be absent from, marginalised by, or stereotyped in mainstream collective narratives.

Ultimately, the most profound implication of this interplay is that our personal narratives and actions are always contextualised. The work we do and the choices we make will always conform to, or challenge, in some way, the collective narratives in which we are situated. This is the case even when we choose not to act in a particular way.