Impact of technology on Translation and Translation Studies

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The landscape in translation and interpreting is changing deeply and rapidly. For a long time, but not necessarily everywhere, translation was denied as a need (except for the political and religious powers), as effort (translation being defined as a kind of mechanical work, as substitution of words), and as a profession (translators embodying a subaltern position). Technology is bringing in certain changes in attitudes and perceptions with regards international, multilingual and multimodal communications. This article tries to define the changes and their consequences in the labelling and characterisation of the different practices. It is organised in five sections: first, we recall that translation and interpreting are only one option in international relations; then, we explain the different denials of translation in the past (or the refusal to recognize the different values of translation). In the third section, we consider how and to what extent technology is transforming today practices and markets. The ongoing changes do not boil solely to developments in Machine Translation (which started in the 1960s): community, crowdsourced/collaborative translation and volunteer translation encompass different practices. In many cases, users provide their own translations, with or without formal qualifications in translation. The evolution is not only technical but also economic and social. In addition, the fragmentation and the diversity of practices do have an impact on a multi-faceted market. In the fourth section, we emphasize that there are nowadays different concepts of translation and competitive paradigms in Translation Studies. Finally, we tackle the organisational challenge of the field, since the institutionalisation of translation and Translation Studies cannot remain the same as when there was a formal consensus on the concept of translation.

About the authors

Yves Gambier

University of Turku; I. Kant Baltic Federal University

professor emeritus from the University of Turku (Finland), School of Languages and Translation Studies Fi-20014 Turun Yliopisto, Finland; 14, A. Nevskogo st., Kaliningrad, 236041, Russia


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