Dr Philip Barker
- Joined UCL
- 10th Sep 2018
Early in my career I worked and taught in the fields of translation, interpreting, and intercultural communication, and was particularly interested in the political and existential consequences of 'change' as ideas and people move (and are themselves altered) across languages, cultures, and physical borders. Following on from my work as a lecturer and freelance translator/interpreter, I co-authored two books on translating and interpreting ('An Introduction to Interpreting', 2 vols., Budapest: Patrocinium Kiadó, 2010/12). These books were designed to illustrate a 'praxeology' or practical theory of interpreting, and were aimed at students of translating and interpreting who wanted to improve their theoretical understanding and practical know-how; their knowledge of social rules, roles, and etiquette; the basic principles of conduct and preparation, and strategies for controlling emotions, moods, and performance. When teaching, my approach was to combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on practice so that students would be able to develop a sense of critical acumen, ethical awareness, and practical independence.
However, my work in the field of literary and media translation also led to an increased interest in the role of language and other symbolic systems in influencing behaviour and shaping individual and collective identities. I am particularly interested in the language of politics, and by necessary extension, the politics of language. Instead of seeing language as a static, self-contained and politically neutral system, I am interested in the sociopolitical dynamics of linguistic practices, especially with regard to issues of language choice, linguistic correctness, (self-)censorship, hate speech, the linguistic performance of ethnic, national, and gendered identities, and the language of political rhetoric and propaganda.
My current research project involves an analysis of the political discourses of late eighteenth-century Habsburg Hungary (including the political idioms of 'republicanism', 'politeness', 'enlightened monarchy', 'linguistic nationalism', and 'ancient constitutionalism'). In examining the development of political discourses in late eighteenth-century Hungary and the Habsburg Empire, I have also explored the transmission and recontextualization of political ideas through processes of translation and cultural appropriation, and have taken part in projects that seek to reassess the role of the Enlightenment in shaping the political practices and discourses of the Central East European area. My investigations into the emergence of linguistic nationalism have also led to an interest in the gradual 'switch' from Latin to Hungarian as an official state language between 1790 and 1848.