Translators Associations North America: CATS

A "distinctly research oriented" translators association

Translators Association North America: CATSThe Canadian Association for Translation Studies (CATS) was officially born during a meeting on the 29th August 1987, “at 12 noon in room 1002”, at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, during the Learned Societies Congress.

Back then, the meeting was attended by around twenty people, from members of different universities to delegates representing translation services in a wide range of disciplines. Yet, the idea of establishing a society of translation scholars was previous to that. It was the result of discussions organised by the Professional Advisory Committee (Comité consultatif de la profession), “a tri-partite committee consisting of representatives from translation schools, professional translators, and employers”.

CAST (the Canadian Association of Schools of Translation) had just decided to remain a translation association solely comprised of schools, “a new and distinctly research oriented association had to be created”. In 1985-1986, talks began about the logistics of founding a learned society.

On the very first CATS newsletter (Autumn 1987), Judy Woodsworth, president of CAST, referred to translation as “an important activity in our country: thousands of professionals are engaged in it and a number of our universities teach it”. She added that “a new academic discipline has been developing over the past few years, one formerly designated as “translation theory” and nowadays more or less commonly by the term “translation studies” in English, and the neologism “traductologie” in French”. Her idea that “this is also the time to consolidate the link between theory and praxis: practitioners should be invited to reflect on the subject of translation just as scholars should remain mindful of praxis, so as to avoid widening the gap between the two” pushed forward the purpose of CATS.

According to the leaders of the Canadian translators association, there are plenty of opportunities for debate on the subject of translation. However, these meetings, organised by several translation associations, have recently focussed exclusively on professional issues like “internships, new technologies, translation methodologies” or terminology.

Other societies have organised workshops. Then again these have focussed on “the more theoretical aspects of translation”. Most of them were ignored by practitioners unless they were academics themselves.

The idea of having a society which would be able to encourage the sharing of knowledge amongst professors, researchers and practitioners of translation, thereby promoting collaboration between the academic world and the reality of the profession, was always a guideline in CATS’ life.

CATS main goal is to bring together those interested in translation as well as to respond to their needs. Leaders of the association stress that “Included in this group are not only those who teach translation in recognized schools, but also those who do research in the fields of comparative literature, or Canadian literature, or the literature of Quebec, for example—in short, anyone and everyone interested in gaining knowledge on translation as a distinct sphere of writing activity”.

Membership is open to academic and professional individuals engaged or with an interest in teaching and researching in the fields of translation, writing, terminology or interpretation.

Young Researchers

One of CATS’ concerns is “how difficult it can be to write a first publication”. Moreover, first submissions’ reviews may not provide detailed and constructive feedback that young researchers need to help and improve their skills and increase their chances of being successful in the future.

For this reason, the Canadian organisation has created the Young Researchers Committee, that aims at helping CATS’ members who are involved in MA or PhD programmes to overcome these obstacles. This committee gives them opportunities to prepare their early independent publications in Translation Studies, as well feedback and “concrete, constructive suggestions” by specialised professors.

Submissions are welcome in two periods, with deadlines in late July and in late January. Revised papers are published online in May and December.

The Vinay and Darbelnet Prize

CATS is also responsible for awarding the Vinay and Darbelnet Prize. It recognises the quality of the research in translation studies conducted by the association’s members. Its aim is to make translation studies known as discipline. It is awarded every year to someone who has presented a paper during the annual conference and “whose written article has been accepted for publication in the issue on the conference theme prepared by the journal of the Association”.

Keep in mind that Canada’s two main languages are English (58.8 % of the population) and French (23.2 %). The latter is mainly used in Quebec, where it is the official language. The remaining population speaks other languages. Around the world, there are around 328 million native English speakers (the actual figures are estimated to be much higher), whereas French native speakers are about 125 millions.

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