Vertaalpleidooi beschikbaar in het Engels | Vertaalpleidooi available in English translation

15 september 2020 - Vertaalpleidooi

De publicatie verTALEN voor de toekomstEen nieuw vertaalpleidooi (2019) is nu ook in Engelse vertaling beschikbaar. | The publication Translating for the future. A new call to action for a flourishing translation culture (2019) is now available in English translation.

Over the past decade we have seen the emergence of multiple threats to a resilient and flourishing translation culture in the Netherlands and Flanders, threats so serious that we are left to wonder whether there will be sufficient numbers of translators in the years ahead. These developments give ample reason for this pamphlet in which we will consider the role, significance and position of translation and the translator. We have noted the following developments:

  1. Internationalisation and far-reaching globalisation have led to a high degree of English proficiency in our society. However, this has also adversely affected the learning of languages other than English, and even the study of Dutch, prompting a decline in students’ interest in languages other than English.
  2. As a result of this waning interest, even European languages have been disappearing from our university curriculums. Desirable though it may be in an age of far-reaching globalisation, extending existing translation programmes in Leuven and in Utrecht to include even more languages appears at this time to be practically and financially impossible. The same applies to the expansion of existing translation programmes to include the training of professionals who translate from Dutch into another target language.
  3. The Dutch departments at universities outside the Dutch language area are not always equipped with the necessary academic expertise and financial resources to offer translation education at a sufficiently high level, according to a recent report ‘De Staat van het Nederlands in de wereld’ by the International Association for Dutch Studies (IVN). This has serious consequences for the supply of translators from Dutch.
  4. The financial remuneration and general appreciation of the profession falls well short of the high academic level at which literary translators work. The level of pay among literary translators in particular is still a serious problem.


  1. Focus on increasing enrolments in language programmes, for example by launching a public information campaign to encourage secondary schoolstudents to learn languages; formulate a joint Dutch-Flemish language policy.
  2. Invest government funds in international Dutch Studies.
  3. Strengthen the transnational network of translation programmes and further training and professionalization initiatives in the Netherlands and Flanders.
  4. Seek to improve the working conditions and secure fair payment for literary translators; ensure greater diversity in the range of languages on offer.


This is a publication by The Centre of Expertise for Literary Translation (ELV). The Centre of Expertise for Literary Translation is a partnership involving the Dutch Language Union, KU Leuven and Utrecht University, in collaboration with Flanders Literature and the Dutch Foundation for Literature.

Original publishing date: Utrecht, May 2019. Original title: verTALEN voor de toekomst. Een nieuw vertaalpleidooi. Translated by Taalcentrum VU, September 2020.