Globalization and Translation

Topics: Globalization, Saskia Sassen, Toronto Pages: 5 (1582 words) Published: December 4, 2009


Two fundamental features of Globalization are crucial for the overcoming of spatial barriers and for the crossing of knowledge and information, thus resulting in the mobility of people and objects; and a proper contact between different linguistic communities. Globality is manifested not only in the creation of supra-territorial spaces for finance and banking, commodity production (transnational corporations production chains) and global market, but also in the significance of travel and international movement of people (mass tourism, business travel, migration and exile) and the consolidation of a global communications system: that distributes images and texts to any place in the world. These developments emphasize- in spite of the fact that English is a predominant language on the globe – an important growth in the significance of translation, which becomes a key mediator of global communication. Yet language and translation have been neglected in the current literature on globalization. Globalization is generally associated with the shrinking of our world and the possibility of instant communication across the globe. Widespread metaphors - like a superhighway which flows with information- creates an image of the world as a network of interconnected places in which space ceases to be significant. This globalization theory focuses on mobility and deterritorialization, trying to obscure the complexities involved in overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers and made the role of translation in global communication invisible. However, translation is a key process in the development of global connectedness. Therefore it is central for understanding the material conditions that make possible this connectedness and translation has important consequences for the way that globalization is understood today. First, globalization has been defined as ‘the widening , deepening and speeding up of worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of contemporary social life and is notably not a new phenomenon, but was already present in the world religions and empires of antiquity’ (Susan Basnett 2008:19). Moreover, globalizing tendencies are inherent in the development of capitalism, which functions through its geographical expansion; and the nineteenth century was a major period for the development of global connections. While some theorists point to the deep historical roots of globalization and maintain that ‘different processes of globalization have developed at different times, followed different trajectories and tempos’ (Susan Basnett: 19)it is believed that the origins of contemporary globalization are to be found in the early modern period, when Europe’s political and military expansion took place. What is new about the present phase of globalization, which Roland Robertson designates as the ‘uncertainty phase’, starting in the late 1960’s is the intensification of global interconnectedness and of global consciousness. This is generally related to several key developments. The first is the new extreme mobility of capital, associated with the disorder on financial markets and new information technologies which dramatically enhanced the communication capabilities of firms. Second, David Harvey emphasizes the fall in the cost and time needed to move commodities and people and the overcoming of space as a crucial factor. The movement of people involves not only highly skilled and unskilled labour, but also holiday travel which has become widespread after the fall in price of train and car travel first, and later of the jet plane. Third, Robertson gives a meaning of global communication and the consolidation of a global media system. Manuel Castells speaks of a communication revolution led by television since the 1960s –while in the 1980s and 1990s- two factors contributed to the radical transformation of the global television market....
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