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Panel 19. Moving boundaries between non-professional and professional translation and interpreting?

Translation and Interpreting studies cover many areas related to the transfer of a message written or spoken from one language to another. Yet, one area has traditionally been at best over-looked or at worst demarcated away, namely the type of interpreting, translation or linguistic mediation (or brokering) performed by individuals without training or without professional status.

With translation studies moving beyond traditional areas of practice or research, the non-professional interpreting and translation has come into the realms of the searchlight (most notably with the non-professional interpreting and translation conference series). Or as Susam-Sarajeva et. al. (2012) put it “translation studies finds itself today at a stage where its traditional focus on translator and interpreter training and on the advancement of the status of translators and interpreters as professionals is no longer sufficient to address the complexity of real-life situations of translating and interpreting”. There is thus a need to explore the practice of non-professional participants. Furthermore, the stronger movement of e.g. professionalization of public service interpreting in Europe (Directive 2010/64/eu), has increased a desire among both researchers and general public to establish what is professional or not, does non-professional mean un-paid, un-trained or un-certified? Is an ad-hoc interpreter or translator always a non-professional? Different countries, and different researchers seem to apply different definitions of both professional and non-professional.

The panel will discuss the issues of defining or redefining non-professional interpreting or translation and its boundaries to traditional interpreting and translation. Why it is important to define at all? Does it matter that different fields apply different definitions? Does the moving boundaries of professionalization change the definition of the professional and the non-professional? The panel is also interested in research methods in non-professional interpreting and translation and issues of professionalization. The panel welcomes contributions on the research on non-professional interpreting and translation in all modes, and in terms of defining, delimiting and researching the area, but also in terms of reporting of results.

Issues addressed can include but are not limited to:

  • Boundaries between the professional interpreter/translator, the non-professional interpreter/translator and the non-interpreter/translator participants
  • Boundaries between research into non-professional interpreting/translation and traditional research in Translation and Interpreting Studies
  • Methods in research into non-professional interpreting/translation
  • Differences between traditional research in translation and interpreting studies and non-professional of ad-hoc interpreting and translation research
  • Professionalization, certification and para-professionalism of interpreters and translators and how/if it is changing


  • Name(s) of convener(s): Rachele Antonini, Pekka Kujamäki, Elisabet Tiselius
  • Affiliation: University of Bologna at Forlí, University of Eastern Finland, Stockholm university
  • Email address: elisabet.tiselius@su.se