To start the Congreso de Traducción e Interpretación San Jerónimo 2009 at the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara I attended the plenary inaugural conference which hosted as its speaker Dr. Luise von Flotow, Director of the School of Translation, University of Ottawa, Canada. Dr. von Flotow presented on the subject of “Translation: Border or Threshold?” which held as a principal point of departure the concept that by attempting to traverse a lingual-cultural border, the translator, in fact, has created one. Translators are therefore not only links assisting cultures in bridging to each other, but also creators of such boundaries by acknowledging the mere idea those boundaries exist. Intriguing concept, however, as a translator and advocate for multiculturalism I recognize the role of translation slightly different. Yes, translation values the gift of communication within the lingual-cultural boundary, and by acknowledging this boundary has always been the foresight cultures so require in order to transcend a boundary that has been self-imposed, as a human necessity and security, perhaps even fear.
The need for identity has been a subject studied by many and experienced by all. As an associated description of translation and its role as mediator between cultures, Dr. von Flotow utilized the psychoanalytical theory of the non-rejection of the non-I, that is the acceptance of unified egos and an interdependence in communication. Every human being experiences, at least once in its human development, a phase in which it freely accepts, tolerates, and cooperates in the interdependence with another. Its ego, its identity, does not reject the foreign other. This phase is experienced during the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, where the interdependence and exchange of communication between mother and child is harmoniously connected, hence its association with translation. The work of translation is then the art of accepting and cooperating in a harmonious exchange and appreciation between cultures. The human necessity for a sole identity and a protective barrier during this phase is therefore transcended. So I wonder, since a woman has the ability to experience this phase in human development and interdependence more than once, does it increase her intuitive sense to articulate and enhance communication? And by correlation, does this qualify women as better translators? Thoughts to ponder.