Conférence internationale permanente d'instituts universitaires de traducteurs et interprètes Excellence in T&I training and research

Policy statement

CIUTI has drafted a statement that aims to capture both the mission and the challenges of T&I training institutions in the 21st century. Feel free to refer to this statement in any document or any correspondence with policy makers or other stakeholders. The statement is also available as pdf document.

CIUTI Policy Statement

At a time when Eng­lish is the glob­al lin­gua fran­ca and tech­nol­o­gy claims to offer instant solu­tions to over­come lan­guage bar­ri­ers, it might be tempt­ing to believe that trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing are fat­ed to dis­ap­pear and that trans­la­tors and inter­preters are endan­gered species. This is a mis­con­cep­tion: in an increas­ing­ly glob­alised and inclu­sive world, trans­la­tion, inter­pret­ing and relat­ed lan­guage pro­fes­sions are more essen­tial than ever.

Because of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Not every­one speaks Eng­lish. Only prop­er­ly trained lan­guage pro­fes­sion­als can ensure error-free and risk-free com­mu­ni­ca­tion across lan­guages and cul­tures at a time when free­dom of move­ment and glob­al migra­tion have mul­ti­plied the oppor­tu­ni­ties and need for peo­ple with dif­fer­ent lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al back­grounds to interact.

Because of the qual­i­ty of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Lin­gua fran­cas have always exist­ed. But com­mu­ni­ca­tion in a lan­guage that is not one’s own moth­er tongue inevitably involves cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions and dif­fi­cul­ties of expres­sion and com­pre­hen­sion. Qual­i­fied trans­la­tors, inter­preters and relat­ed lan­guage pro­fes­sion­als are the only pos­si­ble solu­tion, as tech­nol­o­gy is unable to deal with the infi­nite­ly rich, com­plex and cul­tur­al­ly entrenched com­mu­ni­ca­tion between human indi­vid­u­als and communities.

Because of the dan­gers of mono­lin­gual­ism. The use of a sin­gle lan­guage in the pro­duc­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of knowl­edge car­ries the risk of impos­ing a mono­cul­ture that does not reflect the epis­te­mo­log­i­cal diver­si­ty that mul­ti­lin­gual­ism embod­ies. In focussing on com­mer­cial­ly viable lan­guages, tech­nol­o­gy rein­forces lin­guis­tic mono­cul­tures, where­as the vari­ety of lan­guages rep­re­sent­ed by pro­fes­sion­al trans­la­tors and inter­preters averts such a risk.

Because of the imple­men­ta­tion and enjoy­ment of rights. Lan­guage can be an obsta­cle to full access to pub­lic ser­vices for those lack­ing pro­fi­cien­cy in the lan­guage of the coun­try that is host­ing them. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in sen­si­tive areas such as jus­tice and health­care. Qual­i­fied trans­la­tors and inter­preters are instru­men­tal in guar­an­tee­ing the pro­tec­tion of human rights enshrined in inter­na­tion­al law. More­over, pure­ly tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions offered by pri­vate com­pa­nies stor­ing data for their own pur­pos­es are like­ly to pose addi­tion­al risks in terms of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and privacy.

Safe­guard­ing the qual­i­ty of the lan­guage pro­fes­sions and the research-based train­ing pro­vid­ed by accred­it­ed insti­tu­tions is there­fore of para­mount importance.

Many things may change in the future, espe­cial­ly in terms of tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment. But no mat­ter how great its impact, tech­nol­o­gy will nev­er be able to replace human added val­ue. There will always be a need for trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing – and for the qual­i­fied indi­vid­u­als who are able to meet that need empath­i­cal­ly, cre­ative­ly, adap­tive­ly and ethically.

Know­ing lan­guages is a nec­es­sary but insuf­fi­cient con­di­tion for the prac­tice of trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing – only prop­er­ly trained and qual­i­fied pro­fes­sion­als pos­sess the high­ly spe­cialised com­pe­tences and skills that such work demands. The social and eco­nom­ic impor­tance of trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing makes it imper­a­tive that only com­pe­tent pro­fes­sion­als should be engaged in these activities.

Despite vary­ing local tra­di­tions, cir­cum­stances and require­ments, train­ing in trans­la­tion, inter­pret­ing and relat­ed lan­guage pro­fes­sions, at both under­grad­u­ate and post­grad­u­ate lev­els, is guid­ed by rig­or­ous stan­dards and ori­ent­ed on shared mod­els of com­pe­tence and research. It is in the deci­sive inter­est of edu­ca­tion author­i­ties to pro­mote and sup­port depart­ments and insti­tutes of trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing, which pro­vide the essen­tial tech­ni­cal and cul­tur­al instru­ments to train all those able to meet such a spe­cif­ic soci­etal need. This applies just as much to the research that under­pins the train­ing and to the tech­nolo­gies that assist and sup­port trans­la­tors, inter­preters and lan­guage pro­fes­sion­als in their work.

Train­ing, research and ser­vice to soci­ety are the three key man­dates of uni­ver­si­ties the world over. Trans­la­tion and inter­pret­ing, two aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines shap­ing high-qual­i­ty pro­fes­sion­al prac­tice, are ide­al fields in which to per­form them.

Found­ed in 1960, CIUTI has devel­oped from a Euro­pean-based organ­i­sa­tion into a world­wide asso­ci­a­tion with more than 50 insti­tu­tion­al mem­bers in four con­ti­nents. Its mis­sion is to pro­mote qual­i­ty and excel­lence in train­ing and research in trans­la­tion, inter­pret­ing and relat­ed disciplines.