THE 14TH CONGRESS OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF TRANSLATORS AND INTERPRETERS : ABUJA 27-28 OCT 2015 TRANSLATION AND THE TOURISM BUSINESS IN NIGERIA (Paper presented by Dr S.E Osazuwa, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma) email@example.com
In terms of travelling for pleasure and leisure the concept of tourism and hospitality has assumed quite some new dimensions in our technologically advanced world, the computer age even when physical movements were supposed to be drastically reduced, thanks to the breakthroughs in communications. But even then, the new technologies have in fact made travel and travel bookings even faster. Another dimension to all that is the rapid growth of the socio-economic output of China, a phenomenon which has given rise to an unprecedented surge in the movement of Chinese nationals to many parts of the world. Naturally, the concept of language use in Tourism has become widespread as a result of tourists of various linguistic groups striving to minimize the barriers posed by foreign languages of the modern world. All this, coupled with the rising profile of China, accounting for one quarter of the world’s population, demands that hoteliers, tourist centres and international business will have to train even their regular staff in the most important world languages like English, Chinese, French, Spanish , German, Russian, etc.
The paradox of Nigeria’s economic diversification is as old as our nationhood since independence in1960. It is comparable to the situation in France, also in the 1960s and earlier, when the cliché plus ca change plus c’est la mẻme chose, was prominent in France’s socioeconomic discourse. That had to do with the education system, especially the secondary level, which was so centralized with no room for change, right from Bonaparte’s Lycẻe in late 18th century. Some change came only after the Mai 68 student revolt.
Since the 1970s in Nigeria, government after government, administration after administrator, whether military or civilian, has seemed to see the need to develop other sectors of the economy instead of overdependence on oil, which will not be there fore ever, anyway. This apparent awareness led to the creation of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation in 1992. Indeed, nations like Israel, France, Kenya, South Africa and several Middle East countries get the bulk of their national revenue from the tourism industry.
The main focus of this paper is to analyze the role of language, translation and interpretation in the development of tourism in Nigeria as a growing business and tourist destination.
One of the basic interests that make tourism existing and worthwhile is the language difference in the sense that both the tourist and the host do not necessarily speak the same language. And where they do, the excitement, motivation will be less. We have affirmed before that the world would be a most boring place if all the inhabitants were to speak the same language and adopt a uniform culture …a monolingual and mono cultural world, one can imagine, would certainly have been the most boring creation to contemplate, with all the over four billion inhabitants of our earth speaking French or Yoruba. Then there would be one type of music, one eating habit, one world view, from Cape Town to Alaska; and from Aberdeen to New York. Indeed, what makes the world (ancient or medieval or modern) interesting is the internationality, national identity, diversity and competitiveness driving progress in the various fields of sports, economy, education, technology, arts and science…[i]
That is to say that people travel, especially those who can afford the luxury, to see, feel and hear things that are significantly different from what they see in normal daily routine. The more it is different the more it is exciting.
A British tourist will feel this difference more on hearing a Bourkinabe guide speaking English with a heavy accent in Ouagadougou as a result of his French background. This may not be absolutely true with a conservative, racist tourist as this latter would rather abhor the accent and even lose interest in the message he is trying to get across. Indeed, the question of accent ought to be a non-issue for serious minded people. However, in view of this type of challenge and so many others, the translator or interpreter needs a very thorough, comprehensive training always. And that means that the training programmes should include pure, applied and sociolinguistics and other skills like phonetics and phonology. If the training falls short of the above, the guide will from time to time face embarrassments from the tourists, especially those from Europe, many of whom are usually reasonably bilingual or even multilingual.
INTERPRETATION VERSUS TRANSLATION IN TOURISM On the surface, most tourist outfits or facilities appear to operate principally on interpretation as the sole function to facilitate operations by way of breaking language barriers for tourists. Naturally, in terms of rendering a message in another language, interpretation is what readily comes to mind first. It is the surface, oral or practical form while translation is the deep, background form. The interpreter is the one who is visible at conferences, tourist sites or sessions as guides, in churches or crusades. He is the one with the ability and special skill to help the audience with the language they cannot understand. It is a type of oral translation which may not be documented.
Conversely, translation is usually in a written, documented form. It is a more serious form, even though the reward of the translator, pecuniary or otherwise, may be less than that of the translator since the interpreter’s work is quite often on a daily basis as long as there are meetings, rallies, church services, depending on the familiarity or lack of it, of the language of operation. But ultimately, the translator has the honour of being documented as a permanent reference point in his translated version. He is associated with the rewriting of serious documents like the Bible , scientific journal, biographies, works of fiction, conference proceedings, etc. Indeed, he enjoys some authorship status, depending on the category of work done, Osazuwa, (2014:65).
The truth is that well established business outfits and tourist sites or centres actually need to do a lot of translation work in order to properly document their background history, operational guidelines, legal framework, and budgetary statements, etc in as many languages as possible. These are the documents which government, business partners and other relevant regulatory agencies always demand to see while each interpretation session fizzles away in the wind, true to the Latin axiom: uerba volant, scriba manet ie, the spoken word flies away while the written one remains.
The types of multilingual documentation we advocate here has become a sine qua non for a rapidly changing, complex world where language should no longer constitute a barrier to operations of any kind, whether in the public or private sector of the national economy.
BRIDGING LANGUAGE BARRIERS
Everybody talks about Nigeria being surrounded by French speaking neighbours, but hardly does. anybody go as far as proposing a bilingual or multilingual status for the country.
Most of the countries in Europe and North America we ascribe bilingualism to like Switzerland, Canada, etc., do not present linguistic situation as complex as that of Nigeria. The so-called Abacha declaration of 1997[ii] was no more than a political pronouncement to attract some applause. We must let it be known that because of Quebec, one out of the ten provinces, Canada has for a long time adopted a bilingual status at the federal level of governance. However, there are a number of French speaking communities outside Quebec. The case of Switzerland is even more complex in the sense that English, French, German and Italian are officially recognized and even used in parliament.
The advantage of a bilingual or multilingual outlook for a nation is that, a priori, potential visitors, tourists, whether medical or business or whatever, will take such countries as priority destinations, whereas is actual fact, whether in Switzerland, Canada, German or England, an interpreter or a translator will always be needed to break the language barrier. Therefore, it is highly recommended that all tourism outfits, whether they be located in officially monolingual countries, try to present a bilingual documentation and outlook for their daily operations. Nigeria still has quite a lot of work to do in this regard, as we have seen above. The case of South as an important tourist destination is not even more encouraging in terms of bilingual documentation. So far, it would appear that all the tourism websites and other internet documents on the country’s tourism industry are essentially in English. There is no evidence so far that publicity on the following heads can be read outside English from the link www.Southafrica.net/Attractions:
ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK
DINIKENG GAME RESERVE
THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
THE GARDEN ROUTE
NELSON MANDELA ATTRACTIONS
CITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
In all honesty, one would want to believe that most of these, if not all, are available in many other international languages, Zulu, Afrikaans, etc.
THE WORLD’S LEADING TOURIST DESTINATIONS AND THE LANGUAGE QUESTION
It has been proved beyond reasonable doubts that tourism as an institution in the modern world cannot thrive successfully without giving adequate consideration to the language question in terms of documentation, interpretation and translation. The following table of some of the world’s leading destinations includes our recommendation as to language requirements in order for the industry to function maximally with maximum satisfaction for the tourists or visitors. That also means that even London should not take English for granted for tourists and visitors from China, Japan, Bankok or Singapore.
CITY COUNTRY NO OF VISITORS PER ANNUM (IN MILLIONS) NATIONAL LANGUAGE RECOMMENDED LANGUAGES OF HOSPITALITY
1 Bankok Thailand 10.35
English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, etc
2 Bahrein Saudi Island 4.42 Arabic/English English, Chinese, French, Arabic,German, Riussian
The above table on African tourist sites is by no means exhaustive. But the proposal here is that as much as possible, other African languages should be added to the languages of operation, without taking for granted the local languages. Hence the use of Ewe, Fon, and Ashanti are recommended for sites in Senegal, Ghana, Benin and Togo.
For a place like the Vatican whose tourism statistics we do not have for now, except that of Rome, the fact that it is an important international tourist destination, especially during the Christian festivals, cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, for such a unique seat of the Catholic World, it is recommended that more of the world’s most important languages like English, German, French, Spanish, and even Japanese, Russian and Chinese should be in the offing. And, of course, LATIN where it is still being preserved and used for documentation, otherwise that language, which is the foundation of many of the modern languages of Europe, including English, and still so important in the fields of medicine, sports and even politics, could completely die. And it is the prime objective of tourism to preserve heritage.
BILINGUAL AND MULTILINGUAL NOTICES AND POSTERS It is rare for even a first time visitor to Canada to be confronted with language problems and barriers, especially if such a visitor is French or English speaking. This is due to the fact lthat right from the point of entry – land border, seaport or airport, all notices and posters are in English and French. That means that travelers from the United States, their most immediate neighbors to the South, and accounting for accounting for over sixty percent of the volume of traffic in goods and persons, easily read the available notices, bill boards and posters in English, their language of choice.
This is a practice that has gone on for several decades since Canada adopted, through a law, a bilingual status in English and French in Federal and international services within the country. It is being perfected progressively as the need arises. It is true that this practice has been adopted by a number of other nations across the globe but Canada’s model has been a pace setter in this regard. And it could be very exciting to behold some of the posters and notices:
POSTAL SERVICES POSTAUX
The case of the European Union is even more exciting and more complex. The union carries out its operations and businesses in as many as two dozen languages, even though English, French, German, Spanish and Italian are major. But the arrangement is such that a citizen of the Union, or even a foreigner who can only speak Slovanian or English will not be handicapped in anyway in terms of getting the message. That explains why Euro trains and their stations have become centres of multilingual displays, so fascinating to behold. If a German speaker or national is travelling from BesanÇon (France) to Berlin via Munich where he will need to change train, he will be sure to choose between the following: correspondence transferencia trasferinmento umsteigen and go for umsteigen, which is his German.
CONCLUSION One can infer from the foregoing that services in Nigeria, local or international, still remain largely monolingual as a result of the low level of development, low level of entrepreneurship and lack of complex trade relations. Consequently, the majority of visitors to the country are English and other nationals who might already be fluent enough in English. And even though official businesses are not carried out in Yoruba, Hausa, Effik, Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, etc because there are as yet not enough economic and socio-cultural reasons to operate in these local languages, which will target only indigenous businesses, anyway.
However, the use of indigenous languages in broadcasting, especially on radio, is already a right step in the right direction towards cultural harmony and national integration and unity in view of our linguistic diversity. It is to be hoped that as the economy and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) grows more complex and attract use, services in other languages need not be an issue for legislation or government control. Providers of the services will automatically see the need to provide the services in as many local and foreign languages as possible for better, wider exposure and patronage. But even then, one would like to see enough bilingual posters and bill boards in English and French at all entry and exit points from Niger, Cameroon, Benin, Mali , Burkina Faso, and Chad. This will go a long way in ensuring better economic integration in the ECOWAS region.
NOTES [i] Osazuwa, S.E (2013): A survey of Parliamentary Translation, paper presented to the11th NITI Congress. Lagos, November 2013.
[ii] General Abacha’s famous broadcast where he disclosed the Federal Government’s intention to make Nigeria bilingual in English and French.
Aremu, Temilola, O (2011): Le Tourisme au Benin, le cas de Ouidah, University of Ilorin (Department of French project).
Osazuwa, Simeon E (2014) Literary Translation as rewriting, Global Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, USA, vol. 4 no. 1, pp 64-67
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