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 Home > Localised > France

[ en fr ]

Proposal for a Babels seminar

Angers, France, July 9, 2004
(Date: 24 June 2004)

Almost two years after its birth, Babels’ network has now acquired enough
experience to discuss its important contribution to the Social movement.
Babels is invited to ‘introduce itself’, its life so far, its experience
and its challenges on Friday the 9th of July at the Crid’s ‘Université
d’été’, from 2pm to 6pm, which will take place in Angers, France. For more
information on the Crid’s ‘Université d’été’, please see

Dear all,

Some of you might remember that a few of us had started looking into this
workshop a few months ago, and the results of our musings had been posted
on the mailing list (Babels France’s internal discussion
list) and on Babels forum. The idea had then been met with positive

The intended debate in Angers purposes to give Babels time and space to
introduce itself, to present its activities and start a dialogue with
people who might never even have heard of Babels, or do not know us well
enough. The workshop is intended to be a privileged moment for Babels to
talk with the many people who have been in touch with the network over the
past few months and whose requests for translation and interpretation we
may sometimes have refused. But it will mainly be an ideal time for Babels
to explain what the network is doing and what are its objectives. It will
allow us to show what it has taken-and still takes-for Babels to exist,
and what generally lies behind Babels. What happens when Babels organises
interpretation at a Social Forum, for example ? We will be able to cover a
wide range of issues going from recruitment to the work done by what has
come to be known as the ‘financial brigade’, from planning interpreters’
booths to translating written documents, via logistics such as food,
accommodation and drinks for hundreds of people.
We feel that it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity. We have thus
worked on an idea of a workshop which could look like the following... but
we need several Babels’ people to get involved and come to Angers.

Who would like to talk about their experience within Babels ? The
audience will be composed of French NGOs’, networks’ and movements’
members who generally are involved with the social forums. It would be
good to present Babels’ working groups. Who would like to explain the
work done within the ‘financial brigade’ ? Who would like to show how
interpreters’ booths are planned ? To tell what Transtrad is ? To explain
what Nomad is about ? What Babels-Tech does (we also need to present the
tools developed by Babels !) ?
This also means that Babels must pay for/reimburse return tickets to
Angers. What kind of money does Babels have for this sort of thing ?

Angers workshop-proposal

Aim : to introduce Babels and to start a dialogue with organisations
that may have requested Babels’ help or wish to request Babels’ help,
but do not always understand our object.
Facilitator : Florent Schaeffer, Cedetim

PART 1 : Babels, what is it and what is it for ?

Babels since Florence : figures, achievements, interpreters tell their
stories (Florence, Annemasse, Paris, Mumbai, etc), Babels’ history. What
do Babels’ coordinations do ?
It would also be good to have ESF 2002 (Florence) and ESF 2003 (Paris)
organisers talk about how they went about with interpretation, from
their point of view ?
When organisations, movements, networks or NGOs want Babels to
participate in an event they organise, what do they expect ? What image
have they got of Babels ? What is their reaction when Babels refuses to
undertake interpretation ? What do they do in case of a negative answer
from Babels ? How is Babels considered within the Social Forum
movement ? Babels and the WSF (Italy decision)
The concrete tasks Babels undertakes when preparing a social forum. What
are the different working groups ? What do we need to interpret
properly, respectfully for the speakers and the audience ?

— -Speakers to be identified---


PART 2 : Babelian exercises

Babels’ concrete work. The speakers and the audience interact through
practical exercises such as : people are asked to rephrase
(instantaneously) what somebody is saying, etc. Will depend on the
equipment we have. Audience requested to repeat/interpret/summarise the
speakers’ discussion (all in French except if we have a Babels’ member
from outside France. Would be good to stress the international dimension
of Babels+show what interpretation is, live.)
Exercise on ‘difficult words’. How do we go from one language to another
when practices, notions, concepts are totally different ? Translating =
going from one culture to another.

PART 3 : What is the role of interpretation at social fora ?

Allows the movement to save money BUT that is not the main point. Nomad
and the practicalities. Empowerment and the fact that tools,
practicalities are eminently political. The professional/beginner
debate, the voluntary/paid debate : what does it mean for a professional
interpreter to interpret voluntarily ?
Babels also allows other people to achieve some kind of empowerment : by
translating languages that are not usually translated, we allow people
who’re usually barred from talking in international area to have their
say. See thus the Importance of sign language, of African and native
american languages, of the so-called minority languages, etc...
Debate, perhaps with people who have negative comments on Babels.
Finally, explain how people can get involved with Babels.

Proposal worked on by Stéphanie Marseille, Jeanne Gaffet, Emmanuelle Rivière

To follow the discussions on this topic, check out the forum:

To read the report on this workshop (in French), click here to go to the Babels forum

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