Die professionalisering van taalpraktisyns in Suid–Afrika en Vlaandere : ? vergelykende studie
Kotze, Alletha Dorothea
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While striving for excellence in an increasingly market-dominated, multicultural, multilingual, service-oriented, and globalised society, language practitioners – translators, text editors, interpreters, audio describers, sign language interpreters and subtitlers – in South Africa and Flanders find themselves under increasing pressure to defend the professional status of their work, and to justify the conception of their different occupations as a homogenous profession. Given the cultural and mediatory role of the language practitioner in this decentralised, dynamic, complex, and virtual market, the professionalization of language practitioners is rapidly developing into a matter that needs urgent academic consideration. Scientific and multidisciplinary research on the occupations collectively and colloquially referred to as the “language professions”, or more academic, language practice, is therefore currently of the utmost importance and relevance to ensure market-related expert language services. Unquestionably, without such research language practice cannot become a bona fide profession. From the point of view of the sociology of professions, language practitioners are an extreme example of an understudied professional occupation (Sela-Sheffy & Schlesinger, 2011). By focusing attention on the marginal status of the language occupations (which persists despite the ever-increasing need for professionalized expert language services in a globalised multilingual and multicultural world), this research project aims to identify the perceived impediments to desired professional status for language practice, thereby creating a more systematic basis for future professionalization endeavour. The sociological literature on the professions as manifest in the functional, interactional and conflict approaches of Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, as well as a critical, postmodern approach offers a body of history and theory of the development of modern professions and their attributes. The service ideal; a viable income congruous with expert status; occupational autonomy and monopoly; career oriented training and continuing education; professional training institutions; professional bodies; ethics, and jurisdiction (see for example Abbott, 1988; Barber, 1963; Freidson, 1983, 1994; Goode, 1969; Hughes, 1963; Larson, 1977; Macdonald, 1995; Torstendahl & Burrage, 1990; Wilensky, 1964) are attributes unique to the “true profession”. These characteristics served as the matrix to establish a framework for the prototypical profession whereby the current professional status of language practitioners in South Africa and Flanders could be ascertained, and a formal language practice “professional project” initiated. Using the “professional project” (Larson, 1977) as a conceptual tool advantageously establishes the concrete, historically bounded character of the professions as empirical entities (Witz, 1992:64) within the context of three different approaches to categorisation as described in this project: the classical model, the critical model, and the prototype model. The identification of perceived obstacles to the professionalization of language practice as per the literature provided the context for a comparative appraisal of the current professional state of affairs of language practitioners in South Africa and Flanders. An objective investigation into the character of these obstacles revealed the catalyst opportunities inherent in the alleged barriers to professionalization. This perspective provides a rational framework for the implementation of essential measures to augment a viable professional project of language practitioners in general.
- Humanities