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Our CROSSLING community sent its representatives to Helsinki yesterday, when Marjatta, Leena and me went to listen to Mairi McLaughlin, who gave a talk on ”Translation and Linguistic Change”. Isn’t that a topic that we could have come up with for a presentation ourselves? No wonder we were interested to hear what she has to say.

Mairi McLaughlin works as assistant professor of French in UC Berkeley but received her PhD at Cambridge and has roots in Europe. Although her background is in linguistics, she firmly believes that translation studies and linguistics have now reached a stage where both disciplines can combine their forces fruitfully to work in the same project, for example, in contact linguistics. This is like straight from the declaration of CROSSLING plan of action, so it’s nice to see that we’re not alone with our thoughts.

In her talk professor McLaughlin discussed the potential role that translation has in inducing linguistic change. Looking at data from Medieval Europe, Middle and Renaissance French and current news writing she discussed the possible effects that translated texts may have in introducing lexical and morphological and even syntactic changes in at least typologically related languages. This type of historical study combined with translation is something that also came up in FINSSE-6 conference in Joensuu a few weeks ago, and there seems to be interest in it at least in Turku and Tampere, my current location.

The discussion after the lecture brought up issues of further interest, such as the role of translation vs. interpretation or the role constantly increasing non-professional translation in this type of translation-induced change.

Finally, I have to conclude that Leena (in her typical energetic way) did not contend herself simply with Mairi McLaughlin’s talk but organized a separate meeting with her before the lecture. That’s the way!

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