|Agricultural Extension: Guidelines for Extension Workers in Rural Areas (SKAT, 1994, 298 p.)|
Semantic Problems in "Extension"
Translating these guidelines, originally written in German, into English has turned out to be a daunting task. Professional translators know better than anyone, that literal translations rarely provide the exact meaning of a word in the other language.
A large part of the problem is due to the fact, that the present meaning of "extension" in any country is based on its specific historical background with its cultural and philosophical implications. Extension practitioners in each country use specific jargon which can only be understood alongside the cultural background of the language.
Most people on the international extension scene are quite aware of the difference between francophone "vulgarisation" and anglophone "extension". Then there is the german notion of "Beratung", literally translated as "advising/counsellingn, or even "sitting together in counsel "? i.e. trying to figure out together what can be done...- something which English-speaking people would not immediately think of when talking about extension.
To take another example: In German we can easily borrow the French word "animation", which in English means something unclear which leaves us in a semantic jungle, full of hidden meanings which are culturally and historically determined. So we think it is very important to watch out for hidden meanings when talking about "extension".
While French seems to us to have a slightly elitist bias ("vulgarisation, animation") English worries us by its use of the language of explorers and the military ("surveys, extension officers, extension staff, target population").
We have tried our best to find a way through the semantic jungle and to give you the original meaning of the German text. Sometimes we had to resort to rather elaborate expressions and no doubt the language we have used here could be much improved. We hope that readers will send us their suggestions for a better, simpler use of words. This will help us to improve on the next edition of these guidelines.