Translation and the third culture

When translation is talked about as an intercultural activity, many commentators tend to think of this as negotiating the differences between different languages and their associated cultures. In this lecture I want, however, to consider the notion of the 'intercultural' in translation from an alternative perspective. It is something of a truism to say that many societies are marked by the division between the cultures of science and the humanities, what CP Snow famously articulated as the 'Two Cultures' divide. Educational orientation, career choices, professional affinities, are often seen to be marked by a preference for one of the two cultures with a subsequent rejection or marginalization of the other. As professionals who are by the nature of what they do steeped in the languages they practise, translators partake of the culture of the humanities, yet at the same time they are frequently immersed in a whole range of specialist areas from tropical medicine to mechanical engineering. My purpose will be to explore the elaboration of a third culture in translation which goes beyond the two cultures divide and is situated not only in specific episodes from the translation history of the Mediterranean region but is also to be found in new, emerging forms of digital humanism with its own understanding of the significance of interculturality.

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