Home > Your baBeLOG > Translation and Interpreting: Volunteer work and social commitment

Translation and Interpreting: Volunteer work and social commitment

Saturday 19 March 2005, by María B.

AUTHORS Jesús de Manuel Jerez, Juan López Cortés and María Brander de la Iglesia: members of ECOS, Traductores e Intérpretes por la Solidaridad

Abstract: This article is a presentation of ECOS, Traductores e Intérpretes por la Solidaridad (ECOS, Translators and Interpreters for Solidarity), an association based in the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting at the University of Granada. It reviews the history of the association, its philosophy and current lines of work. After a brief explanation of what we at ECOS understand by social commitment in translation and interpreting, it proceeds to an outline of the boundaries of this concept: who the volunteers are; how, when and where they do their work. It explains, too, that community interpreting is not the same as volunteer work, and reviews volunteer organizations in translation and interpreting, both in Spain and at the international level. Then it discusses the relation between social commitment and training in translation and interpreting, defending the view that translators and interpreters must be trained for society and not just for the market. Finally, the authors conclude with a call to create networks of volunteer translators and interpreters, to supply a consistent standard of work at the local and world level, in the framework of international social forums.


Social commitment in translation and interpreting: a view from ECOS, translators and interpreters for solidarity

Jesús de Manuel Jerez, Juan López Cortés and María Brander de la Iglesia:
members of ECOS, Traductores e Intérpretes por la Solidaridad

Key words: ECOS, volunteer work, translation, interpreting, solidarity.


Starting with a presentation of our association, ECOS, Traductores e intérpretes por la solidaridad, created in the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Granada in 1998, we aim to set forth our vision of social commitment in translation and interpreting, outlining it from the viewpoint of its conceptual and ethical framework, and defining a profile of its participants. We consider that community interpreting and volunteer work should not be confused, and though by origin we work in a limited geographical ambit, we conceive our work in the context of necessary collaboration with similar volunteer organisations, both Spanish and international, as enumerated in the present article. Lastly we treat the relation between social and didactic commitments in translation, and especially in interpreting, with the aim of substituting the concept of “producing” translators and interpreters for the market, by that of training inter-lingual and inter-cultural mediators for society. Working on these principles, we conclude by calling for the creation, or consolidation, of networks of voluntary translators and interpreters contributing to communication between the actors of the emerging world social movements born in recent years in Porto Alegre, and expressed today in a growing number of social forums at the local, regional and world level.

The complete article and bibliography in English can be found at:


For more information on ECOS, traductores e intérpretes por la solidaridad please go to

Forum posts

  • Hi! This article was written by THREE people who figure right after the abstract and the keywords. As I logged in, only my name appears in blue, but this is a mistake. And yes, I am replying to my own article, it seems ;-) If someone knows the webmaster please tell him or her to put all the names before the abstract, if he can. I’ve been looking for his e-mail in the website without success. Thanks!

    • Hi Maria,

      I saw your presentation in Edinburgh on Sunday and had one more question - are the ’socially committed’ training DVDs available to buy? I think they would be great practice for me before the FSMED this summer as they are quite unique. Can I buy them online or should I order a copy from your department in Granada?


      Aimee Van Vliet

  • Dear Aimee,

    They are not available to buy. It would be wrong to profit from recorded Social Forum material, don’t you think?

    Some of the videos you can download from the Internet (only samples). It takes quite a while, depending on your connection, but they are here:

    I think you can also access from the Babels home page in Spanish.

    If you have any problems downloading, I believe each local Babels coordination was given copies of the DVDs right before the London ESF. The easiest way for you to get one would be, I think, through your nearest coordination. They should be able to make a copy for you. If they don’t have any left, please let us know in the Ecos list by visiting our website www.ecosfti.tk