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 Home > Event-related > Babels Intl. Meeting > Program / Participants

[ en fr ]

Program: examples

(Date: 1 September 2005)

Here are some ideas for the meeting proposed by various Babels members. These ideas are examples of topics we could discuss. Many other topics can be proposed, and the topic examples below can be rearranged. The organization program of the meeting is an open process.

There are at least two major areas we could discuss: “what we are” and “how we work”

I – ’What we are’

Examples of topics:

- What is our aim?

Providing interpretation for the social forums is not an aim in itself. Our aim is what is stated in the Charter: namely to ensure everyone the right to speak in her/his own language, to promote the practice of language diversity. This aim has consequences: greater presence of minority languages, ensuring the participation of cultures to "global" discussions, handing over power within the social movements to others, etc. This means effective democratization of the social forums, and novel ways of democracy and organization, and the right to experiment. In many ways, one can argue that languages are a tool of oppression, but we want to make it an tool for other possible worlds.

- Translators vs. Interpreters

Babels is, by and large, considered as a network for interpreters. However, a growing number of Babels members are translators (many experienced), with little or no experience as interpreters. What are the differences between these two professions? How can Babels evolve to take into account the growing number of volunteer translators? What specific projects could be created for translators?

- what are we?:

Babels endeavours to be a virtual horizontal network. What are the problems related to this? This involves discussing participatory democracy, transparency, horizontality, decision-making processes, representativity, etc. Perhaps here a part of ‘how we work’ could be discussed compared with the ’core organization’ of Social Forums – power structure, trust, sharing responsibilities, presence in IC meetings, ‘if there isn’t a project, we do not exist’, etc.

- Professionals vs. non-professionals

From the very beginning, Babels accepted non-professional volunteers, on the basis of linguistic competence, not diplomas or professional status. What are the problems and advantages to this? How can Babels members help both experienced and non-experienced interpreters improve their abilities to participate in Social Forums? Babels and the world of conference interpreters: implications, stakes and challenges.

- what are we not?

What are the differences from NGOs, unions, representatives, ’departments’, political parties, etc. Should Babels adopt any of these forms of organization?

- Minority languages, colonial languages

Discussions on "official", "colonial", "minority" languages. What do these classifications mean? What can be done to resist the pressure to provide interpretation/translation only for "colonial" languages? Should Babels concentrate its efforts on providing interpretation for minority languages?

- what does volunteering mean?

Why do we volunteer, what is volunteering, when and to whom we volunteer as Babels. Where do volunteers come from (geographically, socially, politically, professionally, etc.)? Also: there is life outside Babels – meaning, we volunteer for the social forums, but we can volunteer individually to anything else. Also: Babels is not a brand name – we don’t have to be everywhere – proposals can be posted in the forum; we don’t have the monopoly of the interpretation in the Social Forums – but we do not accept working in mixed volunteer-paid systems.

- Babels as a political actor of the Social Forums

Despite being part of the IC, we are always treated as a service provider. How can we change the mindset of the organizers? Interpretation has always been a service provided around the world, and we have to make the organizers, participating organizations, and audience of the Social Forums understand who we are. Saying this just before the conferences begin is not enough. We need to make people understand that their attitude towards translation is market-oriented – "we want good quality translation", "we need interpreters now (i.e. at the last minute)", "we pick the languages we want", etc. What is the influence of Babels in the evolution of Social Forums toward new forms of participation and organizing?

- Babels charter

Should it be revised? how?

II – ’How we work’

Examples of topics:

- Organization blueprint for the Social Forums

  • Budget: how to draft a budget, do we raise funds or not?, how to raise funds, how to manage the budget, who manages the budget?
  • Travel: what options are there? how to organize travel, who manages the travel arrangements?
  • Housing: what do interpreters need? how to organize housing. Solidarity housing vs. ’paid’ housing (tips, problems, advantages).
  • In the booth: what do interpreters need? List of items; way to organize this; costs. Local needs (heat? cold? noise?)
  • Communication: how do we transmit information to babels members from the first project proposal down to the post-SF debriefing? Information and communication with the organizations participating in the SF. Perhaps we could create an on-going project, such as lexicons or transtrad, to raise awareness within the organizations as to who we are, what interpretation is and requires, etc. Among the aims of this awareness campaign: understanding linguistic problems, taking these into account, but also helping social movements and organizations find volunteers of their own who could better serve their movements’ and organizations’ linguistic needs... instead of requesting the help of Babels. Teaching them to help themselves.

- Electronic Tools

This deserves a whole series of discussions, and should probably be discussed in relationship with other topics (we cannot separate tools and politics), but the bottom-line idea is tools that allows us to be international, horizontal, transparent, and virtual. Babels as a network uses a number of tools to work and organize itself. These tools could not only be better used by other organizations, but the developers could interact to develop ’bridges’ between the different applications, all the while keeping in mind the need to support linguistic ’internationalization’ — in other words: we should be able to use these tools in any language necessary.
Among the electronic tools used by Babels:

  • Discussion forum (phpbb)
  • Wiki (wikka wiki)
  • Content Management System (SPIP)
  • Database and mailinglist system (PHPlist)
  • Internal mailinglist system (mailman)
  • Web-based chat (phpmychat)

All these tools are open-source (what does that mean?) Also, members of Babels personally know many of the key developers of these applications (notably: wikka wiki, SPIP, PHPlist).

- Nomad, AL.I.S., and other non-proprietary interpretation equipment

Description, evolution. Problems, advantages, etc.

- Memory and archiving

New tools for translation equipement and memory (archiving and other projects) for the Social Forums. The equipement is not only a "service" to interpreters and conference participants but also full participant to a translation project. Memory (ownership of translation, data organizing, data distribution and so on) is a series of projects which are changing also the way we can imagine our presence and efficiency during a conference.

- Open-source vs. proprietary software; interpretation/translation copyright/copyleft

If tools allow the archiving and mass-distribution of one’s interpretation, what are the consequences in terms of ownership of one’s work? What are the pros and cons of copyright/copyleft systems?

- New projects

Developing new tools to allow: film sub-titling; translation of documents via the internet (TranslationTool); open-source tools for translators and interpreters (BaBOO); simultaneous interpretation via the internet, etc.

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