Heriot-Watt sets up new language chair

January 6, 1995

Heriot-Watt University has marked the 25th anniversary of its pioneering language courses with the creation of a new chair in interpreting and translating.

Ian Mason, holder of the chair and head of the department of languages since 1989, hopes to boost the department's postgraduate and research work while maintaining the university's emphasis on vocational interpreting and translating.

"There's definitely room for work on translation as a professional activity, and interpreting is very under-researched," he said. For example, he said, sociolinguistics research has revealed a great deal about spontaneous conversation and the rules of taking turns to speak. "But what happens to that interaction when there's an interpreter in the middle? We don't know to what extent that interferes with the spontaneity."

In 1970, when Heriot-Watt launched language teaching geared to the professional standards of interpreters and translators, language applicants faced a very narrow choice in higher education, with the vast majority of universities offering traditional courses in language and literature.

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