Early last year Associate Editor Jonathan Downie made the bold move of interviewing several members of the editorial board and distilling the information, stories, and rumor he got in the process down to a one-
You are a serious interpreter. What made you first decide to contribute to SpecGram? (That is, how did you end up consorting with a bunch of low-
JD: First off, there is no such thing as a “serious interpreter”. We are all slightly nuts! That said, I stumbled across SpecGram by accident one day, I know not how, and got slightly ticked that all I understood were a few of the comics (I always thought phonology was the study of public telephone boxes). So, I decided to show you all how it’s done by writing pieces on things that people would have heard of: like obscure theories of interpreting and endless claims and counter-
Most people don’t know that most people confuse translation and interpreting, because most people confuse translation and interpreting, and so don’t know there’s a difference. What’s the difference, and why does it matter to people in general, and to linguists, translators, and interpreters more specifically
JD: Translators work only on written texts. Interpreters work with spoken or signed texts. Translators are rarely spotted outdoors. Interpreters rarely shut up. Absolutely different jobs but some people insist on muddying the waters by doing both!
Most people also don’t know that you are always trying to sneak translation or interpreting (assuming there’s a difference) into SpecGram
JD: I know you know. You know I know you know. Now, we both know that I know that you know that I know. No?
You have also appeared on Language Made Difficult, the SpecGram podcast. What was it like for you? (That is, how big of a mistake was that, and just how badly did they mistreat you?)
JD: It was no mistake. It was actually a lot of fun. I had been on live TV and radio before as the world’s first Glaswegian-
What effect(s) do you think SpecGram has had on the linguistics, and translation and interpreting (assuming there’s a difference) communities as a whole? (That is, does anyone care?)
JD: I have no idea if anyone outside of Translation Studies reads SpecGram. Professional interpreters and translators probably don’t as they can’t use it for terminology mining. A few people have commented on my excellent delineation of species of Translation Studies scholars. I am still hoping to convert the entirety of Interpreting Studies into SpecGram contributors, if only to make me feel more normal.
Have any of your colleagues ever reacted (positively or negatively) to one of your SpecGram pieces? (That is, does anyone care?)
JD: Two of my colleagues reckoned I was right on the money in my article on Translation Studies species. Now I tend to hide behind joint articles so no one can actually tell what I have contributed, if anything. It’s exactly like writing a co-authored journal paper.
What is your favourite linguistics area to satirise and why? (That is, why are translators and interpreters
JD: I love satirising post-
SpecGram recently celebrated its tenth online year, what do you think are the reasons for its longevity? (That is, other than the translation and interpreting
JD: It has succeeded because nerds tend to be infectious and anyone who has any contact with language-
Ultimately, you brought this counter-
JD: Money. Fame. Glory. That and I am beginning to see that humour is much more important than people think. Writing humour helps us learn to write more clearly, think about audiences, analyse critically and it has health benefits too. It really is serious business and is something we need much more of in academia. We might not be able to change the eternal parade of targets, bureaucracy and politics but we can choose to enjoy the ride anyway. It is only humour that lets us do that and still stay halfway sane.
Lastly, if you could pick any linguist or translator or interpreter (assuming there’s a difference), alive or dead, and poke them until they wrote a SpecGram piece, who would it be and why? (That is, your deadline is next week, so get them to start writing!)
JD: The live one, definitely! Dead people aren’t funny.
I would love to see Anthony Pym write for SpecGram since he already slips sarcasm into his writing. I would also love to see Noam Chomsky get his own back on the entire SpecGram editorial team.