Panel 19: Translating and interpreting in religious settings (Jonathan Downie, Jill Karlik)

Sacred text translation and Translation Studies share a common lineage in the work of Nida (1964) and sacred text translation has historically fed into theories at the centre of Translation and Interpreting studies (e.g. Gutt 1991; 1996), but most other activities included in Translation and Interpreting in Religious Settings (henceforth TIRS), find themselves on the periphery of the field. While Interpreting Studies has been expanding into the examination of interpreting in community settings since the 1980s (Pöchhacker 2004, p.15), interpreting in religious settings has received little attention.

This panel aims to address this by bringing together researchers with an interest in TIRS around the question: what contributions can TIRS research bring to Translation and Interpreting Studies? Papers may cover any example of TIRS in and between any religions, such as: interpreting in religious meetings, missionary translation and interpreting, translation and interpreting within and between religious groups, and TIRS between different modalities and media (e.g. print, subtitling, recordings, etc). In such settings, where translators and interpreters perform both linguistic and religious roles (Kaufmann 2005, p.976ff; Mustapha 2008), Translation and Interpreting Studies concepts such as norms, ideology, ethics, and audience design and expectations may need to be rethought to take into account the unique positions of these translators and interpreters. In addition, the interaction of religious, social and linguistic aspects in TIRS contexts (Karlik 2010) suggests that an int! erdisciplinary perspective, borrowing concepts from fields such as theology, sociology, Performance Studies and discourse analysis may be useful.

It is expected that this panel will contribute to Translation and Interpreting Studies knowledge by exploring the interface between TIRS and other forms of translation and interpreting, especially through challenging, advancing or reassessing existing Translation and Interpreting theories, concepts and assumptions. It will also allow researchers to show how concepts from religious studies and theology might be applied via TIRS to wider debates in Translation and Interpreting Studies. The key focus of this panel will therefore be the cross-fertilisation of ideas, methods and theoretical frameworks between TIRS and the wider world of Translation and Interpreting Studies and between researchers looking at TIRS. Papers are welcome on any aspect of TIRS related to the theme of the panel, including:

  • How may results and theories from TIRS be applied to wider debates in Translation and Interpreting Studies?
  • In what ways can TIRS be used as a testing ground for theories from Translation and Interpreting Studies?
  • How apt are Translation and Interpreting Studies methods for answering questions involving TIRS?
  • What are the social and/or theological role(s) of translators and/or interpreters in religious settings?
  • How can pedagogy for TIRS be developed based on Translation and Interpreting Studies?
  • What can we learn from the use of written, spoken or multimedia corpora in TIRS research?
  • What impacts have emerging translation and interpreting technologies had on TIRS?


Gutt, E.A., 1996. Implicit information in literary translation: A relevance-theoretic perspective. Target, 8(2), pp.239–256.
Gutt, E.A., 1991. Translation and relevance: cognition and context, B. Blackwell.
Karlik, J., 2010. Interpreter-mediated scriptures: Expectation and performance. Interpreting, 12(2), pp.160–185.
Kaufmann, F., 2005. Contribution à l’histoire de l’interprétation consécutive : le metourguemane dans les synagogues de l’Antiquité. Meta, 50(3), pp.972–986.
Mustapha, H., 2008. Qur’ān (Koran). In M. Baker & G. Saldanha, eds. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Routledge London, pp. 225–230.
Nida, E.A., 1964. Toward a science of translating: with special reference to principles and procedures involved in Bible translating, Brill Archive.
Pöchhacker, F., 2004. Introducing interpreting studies, Routledge.

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