Manifesto for translation
Languages are like Ulysses: they travel. There are translation roads, just like the silk and spice roads of long ago. Works travel, with varying amounts of baggage. But without translation, books and other works become cultural left luggage. The language of this journey, the traduction of the text, is translation itself.
Umberto Eco once said that translation is the language of Europe. Translation is the language of the Mediterranean. And yet, all the studies show that there is an extraordinary lack of translations and an unequal, asymmetrical exchange of languages in the Euro-Mediterranean area. “Mare nostrum” it may be, but what about “linguae nostrae”? Without multilingualism, there can be no cultural diversity. Without translation, there can be no intercultural dialogue.
Our two Mediterranean shores face many of the same dangers. In the geopolitics of emergencies, culture often takes a back seat in our diplomacy and communiqués. The “clash of civilizations”, if there is one, is above all a “clash of de-civilization”. Armed language, the language that kills, needs no translation.
The Mediterranean has always been a place of knowledge and exchange, one of transmission and enrichment. Today, the temptation to withdraw behind barriers and the monolingualism of hatred pose a dual threat to the free movement of works, creators, talent and translators.
Translators are the irreplaceable conveyors of works and knowledge, the messengers vital to our cultures. We call for action to support their recognition, training, mobility and reception.
In a new policy for a dynamic and ambitious Euro-Mediterranean cultural agenda, translation is one of the keys to our shared identities. Not one language for all, but rather access to languages for all.
That is why we are calling for an ambitious Euro-Mediterranean policy that supports the translation of works and cultural expressions. This is a matter of urgency for languages and their translation. All those in the translation chain need to be involved: authors, publishers, distributors, bookshops, libraries, public and private institutions, and also national actors, the European Union and Euro-Mediterranean cooperation forums. The first Euro-Mediterranean conference on translation will be held in Portorož, Slovenia, on 23 June 2016.
We want this “Manifesto for translation” to be a call for active mobilization in favour of a concrete policy supporting translation and cultural works in the Mediterranean.