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Contesi on linguistic inclusion in philosophy

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Filippo Contesi (postdoc, University of Barcelona) draws my attention to his recent iai news article which contends that:

Given the tendency of native Anglophone analytic philosophers to remain monolingual, the discipline is losing out on philosophical perspectives that are afforded by competence in languages other than English…majority Anglophone countries house only about 6% of the global population. Philosophical discussion is consequently deprived of a huge pool of philosophical talent. Given the tendency of native Anglophone analytic philosophers to remain monolingual, the discipline is additionally losing out on those philosophical perspectives that are afforded by competence in languages other than English.

I’m all for this in principle, as I often come across interesting philosophy articles in other languages and would love for it to easier to find and read such articles (one can always put a document into Google Translate, for example, but in order to find an article in the first place one may need to be able to read the title!). So, I’m curious: how might Contesi’s proposal best work? Contesi suggests a number of options, including the ‘Barcelona Principles for a Globally Inclusive Philosophy‘, which hold (among other things) that journals should evaluate submissions on the basis of ideas rather than fluency and seek to include (whenever possible) non-English speakers on editorial boards, etc. I wonder how far this could go, however. Obviously, there are so many languages fluency in more than a few of them can be difficult, and of course it would seem formidably difficult to ensure that journal editorial boards represent most languages on Earth (and find reviewers, etc.).

So, I wonder whether Anglophone journals might instead consider submissions that are translated into English via Google Translate, and then explicitly notify reviewers that this is the case (noting the original language of authorship), instructing reviewers to not hold translation issues or other English-writing infelicities against the submitter. Then, when publishing the eventual article, perhaps the journal could publish it simultaneously in its original language alongside an English translation. Anyway, I’m curious: what do you all think? 

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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