Friday, 07 April 2017 05:03

Thematic Panels & Abstracts




Thematic panels are groups of papers organized around a particular sub-theme. The panels are listed below and the details of the each panel can be found by clicking the links.

The accepted abstracts of each panel are now listed under each panel, after the respective panel descriptions.

PANEL 01: At the Interface of Cognition and Multilingual Communication
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 02: Grounded Theory in Translation Studies 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 03-i: Translation Quality Assessment: From Principles to Practice 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 03-ii: Assessing and Evaluating Translator and Translation Quality: Empirical Approaches for Commercial and Pedagogical Purposes 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 03-iii: Quality in Cultural Mobility: The Impact of Technology-supported Interpreting on Performance Quality and Communication 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 04: When Translation Goes Digital: Social, Legal and Economic Issues 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 05: Translation and International Theatre 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 06: Museum Translation: Encounters across Space and Time 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 07: Crisis Communication and Translation 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 08: Translation and Space/Place 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 09: Translating Development: The Importance of Language(s) in Processes of Social Transformation in Developing Countries 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 10: Audiovisual Translation as Cross-cultural Mediation - New Trajectories for Translation and Cultural Mobility? 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 11: The Cultural Mobility of Queer Knowledges through Translation 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 12: Advances in Discourse Analysis in Translation Studies: Theoretical Models and Applications 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 13: Interpreting, Translation and English as a Lingua Franca (ITELF)
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 14: Exploring Cultural Mobility through Visual and Performance Art 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 15: Translation and Citizenship: Communication and Mobility in (Emerging) Multilingual Democracies 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 16: Interpreting in Conflict-related Scenarios 
Accepted Abstracts

PANEL 17: Translation-Oriented Localisation Studies (TOLS): New Trends, Future Challenges 
Accepted Abstracts




PANEL 01: At the Interface of Cognition and Multilingual Communication

Panel Organizers:
Ana Mª Rojo López (University of Murcia)
Ricardo Muñoz Martín (University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
Sandra Halverson (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences)
Adolfo M. García (Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience)

In recent years, empirical research on translation, interpreting, and other forms of mediated multilingual communication has opened up to fresh approaches that conceive of cognition in ways other than the classical mind-as-computer paradigm. These approaches—such as embodied, embedded, enacted, extended and affective cognition (4EA cognition)—share some common assumptions within Translation and Interpreting Studies. For instance, they all agree on the need to develop theories which are not only cognitively plausible, but also socially and culturally realistic, by reembedding them in their respective milieus and constraints. In doing so, cognitive approaches also expand beyond the mediators themselves to focus on the cognitive aspects of all participants in communicative events (e.g., reception in readers, viewers) and their interactions (e.g., distributed cognition, perspective taking, turn-taking control, and the like).

These emergent views on the cognition of multilingual communication are still under development, but they all share a commitment to empirical research, often using either experimental settings and/or mixed-methods designs in naturalistic environments to account for HCI and cognitive ergonomics. Theoretical frameworks to sustain these new approaches are still taking their first steps and can be collectively dubbed cognitive translatology. This panel aims to bring together empirical and theoretical contributions from any relevant field to maximize the rapprochement between 4EA approaches to cognition and other classical trends within Translation and Interpreting Studies. Proposed papers should address:

  • Theoretical domains and epistemological issues
  • Empirical research methods
  • Empirical research constructs
  • Neuroscientific aspects
  • Attentional control and multitasking
  • Culture and cognition
  • Culture, embodiment, and cognitive processes in translation
  • Emotional processes
  • The role of individual and psychological factors, e.g. emotions
  • The cognitive impact of expertise

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:

All conveners are members of the international research network Translation • Research • Empiricism • Cognition (TREC)

Ana Mª Rojo López is Associate Professor of Translation at the University of Murcia, Spain, where she coordinates the Master in Translation for the Publishing Industry and the doctoral program in translation. She is also a member of PETRA Research Group (Expertise and Environment in Translation, Spanish acronym), which focuses on the empirical research of the cognitive aspects of translation and interpreting. Her main area of research is presently the study of the translation process, with special emphasis on emotional and creativity processes. Prof. Rojo has published extensively in various formats, including books, articles, and book chapters on cognitive contrastive linguistics, translation, and research methodology. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ricardo Muñoz Martín is Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. He is also the coordinator of PETRA Research Group. Prof. Muñoz's research focuses on the philosophy of mind and attentional processes in multilingual communication. As a visiting professor or invited scholar, Prof. Muñoz has lectured in more than 15 universities, always on the interface between translation and cognition. He has published more than 70 papers in competitive journals and top publishers, and has edited several special issues and books, including the recent Reembedding Translation Process Research. Prof. Muñoz is the editor of the journal Translation, Cognition & BehaviorThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sandra L. Halverson works at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Her overarching research concern is the integration of insights from Cognitive Linguistics into Translation Studies. Prof. Halverson has published both empirical and theoretical/conceptual work on many questions related to Translation Studies and Cognitive Linguistics, such as the cognitive bases of translation universals and translation shifts. Another long-term research interest is the epistemology of Translation Studies. She is currently working on developing and testing hypotheses concerning the cognitive origins of lexical and syntactic patterns in translated language and on developing a cognitive account of metalinguistic processes in translation. Prof. Halverson is co-editor of the journal TargetThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Adolfo M. García serves as Scientific Director of the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience (LPEN-INCYT), Assistant Researcher at CONICET, and Professor of Neurolinguistics at the Faculty of Education of UNCuyo. He has more than 90 publications, including books, chapters, and articles in leading journals on neuroscience, language, and translation. His distinctions include the Most Outstanding Paper Award (Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States, 2013) and the Young Investigator Prize (Argentine Association of Behavioral Science, 2015). Prof. García is Associate Editor for the Journal of World Languages and the Journal of Alzheimer’s DiseaseThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 01:

The Effect of Emotion on the Allocation of Cognitive Resources during Translation

Caroline Lehr (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) and Kristian T. Hvelplund (University of Copenhagen)


A crucial function of emotions is to signal the presence of important events in our environment which may be relevant to our well-being and goals. An attentional bias towards emotionally-laden stimuli allows for a rapid detection of these events, and behavioral findings across a range of tasks indicate that processing is facilitated and attention prioritized for emotional information. Moreover, some of the important influences of emotion on perception are mediated by its modulation of attentional processes. Nevertheless, the potential effects of the interaction between emotion and attention on the translation process and translation performance, have, to date, not been examined. The present study aims to address this gap by studying visual attention to emotional content in a sample of professional translators. It also explores if effects of emotion on attentional processes during translation are modulated by translators’ mood, stress and anxiety and if they have an influence on translation performance. In order to investigate the effect of emotion on the allocation of cognitive resources during translation, a series of experiments are carried out. Three texts (En-Da) with positive, negative or neutral emotional valence scores are translated by 10 professional translators. Eye-tracking data are analyzed in order to identify patterns of visual attention and to estimate cognitive load, and expert evaluations of the translated texts are undertaken in order to assess translation performance. Self-report inventories are used to gauge mood, stress and anxiety levels before, during and after the translation tasks.


Translation process


Metarepresentation in Translation: How the Mind-reading Ability Influences the Translation Process

Fabio Alves (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)


Recognising speaker’s meaning amounts to recognising the intention behind the speaker’s communicative behaviour and is considered a variety of mind-reading (Wilson, 2005). Drawing on influential theoretical accounts of speaker meaning interpretation (Grice, 1975, Sperber & Wilson 1986/95, Baron-Cohen, Leslie & Frith 1985), and on the metarepresentational view of translation (Gutt 2005, 2006), we attempt to outline how the brain supports the computation of context-dependent speaker meanings while performing a translation task. To address this issue, we conducted experiments in eye tracking and fMRI environments. 22 translation students and 22 professional translators read and translated short scenarios ending in a question-answer pair. The final and critical answer had different meanings depending on the dialogue context; it could be interpreted as a direct reply (conveys literal meaning) or as an indirect reply (conveys implicit meaning). The translation of indirect replies activated frontal-temporal language network (left inferior frontal gyrus and left middle temporal gyrus) and theory-of-mind network (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, right temporoparietal junction and precuneus). By combining behavioural and neuroimaging methods, the results showed that the mean reaction time, together with the mean fixation duration were significantly longer for the indirect reply condition, however results of the parametric modulation analysis showed no significant positive correlation between, reaction time, fixation duration and the amplitude of the cortical responses. The implications of these findings provides novel evidence concerning how theory-of-mind network interacts for recognising the intentions behind the speaker’s communicative behaviour and how translation processing is influenced by these levels of the mind-reading ability.


Metarepresentation in translation
Inferential processes
Relevance Theory
Theory of Mind


Attention and Control Indicators in Translation Tasks

Aline Ferreira (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis) and Ricardo Muñoz Martín (Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)


Customary cognitive approaches to translation, which have fostered a focus on memory and problem-solving, are nearly exhausted. Cognitive Translatology contemplates cognition as the result of interaction between cognizant agents and their environment; communication, as behavior; and language, as a social and an individual tool. Within this approach, attention, is the key factor in translators' and interpreters' mental processes. Understanding executive functions could help us to better understand translators' inhibitory control of attention.

This project investigates whether a better executive control is related to participants’ attention fluctuations (e.g., correlation analysis). Results from L1/L2 and l2/L1 Stroop translation task (for language switching costs) and a Simon task (for suppression of active cognitions and interference of irrelevant stimuli) will be contrasted with those from translating several passages from Spanish into English and from English into Spanish. Eye tracking will be used to triangulate results from keylogging translation tasks with Inputlog. Data collection and analysis for the translation tasks will focus on capturing and analyzing translation attention fluctuations (changes in bursts, speed; pause location, etc.). 

It is expected that the results can provide evidence of a direct link between inhibitory control abilities and language switching capabilities, which could be associated with participants’ performance in the translation tasks. For instance, better inhibitory control, verified by the Simon task, should be related to reduced switch costs, verified by the Stroop word translation task. 


Cognitive control


Implicit Monitoring Dynamics during Word Translation: A Behavioral and Neurophysiological Study on Translation Students

Katharina Oster (University of Mainz), Federico Adolfi (LPEN), Agustín Petroni (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Alejandro J. Wainselboim (CONICET), Silvia Hansen-Schirra (University of Mainz), and Adolfo Garcia (LPEN-INCYT/CONICET/Universidad Nacional de Cuyo)

Presented by: Katharina Oster


Activation of target words during translation is sensitive to stimulus-related variables. In particular, cognates (words which share both form and meaning between languages) are typically translated faster than non-cognates – a manifestation of the cognate facilitation effect (CFE). However, no study has yet assessed the role of implicit monitoring processes in relevant tasks, let alone examined their relation with translation expertise. 

To bridge this gap, we recruited 40 translation students from different semesters and administered a word translation test while recording response latencies and electrophysiological modulations. Building on previous evidence, we hypothesized that the CFE in translators would be associated with increased amplitudes of the N2, a robust electrophysiological marker of implicit monitoring effort. Moreover, we explored whether these effects correlated with translation expertise. 

We found significantly higher amplitude of the N2 for cognates than for non-cognates. However, no correlation emerged between the N2 modulation and the CFE, and neither variables correlated with translation expertise. 

These results suggest that translation students engage impliciting monitoring processes in proportion to the level of cross-linguistic competition between source and target words, and that this effect holds irrespective of their expertise level. Our results thus shed light on the interplay between linguistic and extralinguistic processes in the development of professional translation skills.


Word translation
Implicit monitoring
Response latencies
Event-related potentials


Neural Correlates of Omission in Simultaneous Interpreting: A Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Study

Defeng Li and Victoria Lei (University of Macau)


The issue of omission has been an intriguing question in translation and interpreting studies. It is easy to assume that omission in translation and interpreting requires next to no cognitive effort, or see the occurrence of omission as evidence of cognitive effort avoidance. However, it has been suggested that omission actually involves active decision making (e.g. Gile, 1995), and thus it might not be the most economical of coping tactics. 

Our previous study (Li et al, 2016) compare three strategies frequently used by simultaneous interpreters, namely, transcoding, transphrasing and code-mixing, which involve various levels of decision-making and cognitive effort, and investigate how the three strategies are associated with the magnitude and the extent of activation in the left prefrontal cortex, including the Broca’s area using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). In this fNIRS-based study omission is compared with the three strategies mentioned above in terms of brain activation patterns. It is expected the findings will help gain further insight into the complexity of omission in relation to the cognitive effort it involves. 


Simultaneous Interpreting
Cognitive Effort
Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy


The Impact of Interpreting Expertise on Lexical Processing: A Behavioral Study

Micaela Santilli, Martina Gonzalez Vilas, Ezequiel Mikulan, Lucas Sedeño, Agustín Ibáñez and Adolfo García (Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCYT))
Presented by: Adolfo García


In this presentation, we report a behavioral study on how simultaneous interpreting impacts various forms of lexical processing. Seventeen professional simultaneous interpreters (PSIs) and 17 non-interpreter bilinguals (matched for gender, age, education level, second-language competence, and executive skills) underwent a comprehensive psycholinguistic assessment. The protocol included phonological and semantic fluency, picture naming, word translation, and word reading tasks, all separately administered in the participants’ native and non-native language (Spanish and English, respectively). We found a two-fold pattern. On the one hand, PSIs exhibited better vocabulary navigation skills and they were faster to name pictures in both languages and to translate words in both directions. On the other hand, they showed no advantages for word reading in either language. Importantly, these differences seem to reflect specifically linguistic effects, as both samples were matched for relevant domain-general skills (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and overall executive functioning). Our results support hierarchical models which incorporate functionally autonomous routes for interlinguistic processes as well as distinct processing levels for semantic and sublexical information. More generally, these findings shed light on the cognitive particularities of PSIs and, more generally, on the adaptability of bilingual memory mechanisms to stringent processing conditions. 


Simultaneous interpreting
Lexical processing


The Relationship between Stress/Emotions and Interpreting Accuracy in Simultaneous Interpreting

Paweł Korpal (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)


In recent decades, research on psychological factors has gained popularity in Interpreting Studies. Some interpreting scholars have emphasised the significance of psycho-affective factors in the interpreter’s profession (Brisau et al. 1994; Timarová & Ungoed-Thomas 2008; Rosiers et al. 2011; Bontempo & Napier 2011). Among the notions which have been tested empirically are: interpreters’ personality (Schweda Nicholson 2005; Moser-Mercer 2005), emotional stability (Bontempo & Napier 2011), as well as psychological and physiological stress (e.g. Klonowicz 1994; Moser-Mercer et al. 1998; Kurz 2003; Moser-Mercer 2005). Some studies have shown the effect of stress and anxiety on interpreting performance (Chiang 2010; Moser-Mercer 2005). 

In my presentation I am going to discuss the relationship between stress/emotions and interpreting accuracy in simultaneous interpreting based on two empirical studies. In study 1 I tested the impact of the speaker’s delivery rate on the level of stress and interpreting accuracy in professional interpreters (N = 18) and interpreting trainees (N = 20). The following stress markers were used in the experiment: heart rate as a physiological measure of stress, the STAI X-1 questionnaire used to measure self-reported anxiety, and two acoustic measures of stress, i.e. fundamental frequency (F0) and the number of hesitations. Study 2, employing galvanic skin response and the SUPIN questionnaire, aimed to investigate whether interpreters (N = 28) tend to converge emotionally with the speaker in simultaneous interpreting, and whether emotional responding correlates with interpreting accuracy. The results may point to a potential impact of interpreters’ stress and emotions on simultaneous interpreting performance.


Interpreting accuracy
Emotional responding
Simultaneous interpreting

Cognitive Translatology and the Opportunities for Epistemic Pluralism

Álvaro Marín (University of Essex)


As new approaches expand the object of study to encompass social and cultural aspects of multilingual communicative events, Cognitive Translation Studies (CTS) scholars face the challenge of combining research methods and analytical perspectives to shed light into cognitive phenomena from different yet coherent angles. The need to specify and combine different units and levels of analysis is not new to CTS, however this plurality has been so far considered as transitory, eventually converging on a final, unified theory of translation. The development of cognitive translatology as an emergent tradition combining multifarious approaches with some basic, shared assumptions presents a new epistemological landscape in which plurality in method and model can be embraced, fostered and practiced for the benefit of producing new knowledge, thus posing new opportunities to approach the complexities of multilingual communication. Following recent works in the Philosophy of Science, I propose epistemic pluralism as a scientific agenda that promotes plurality, engaging in and combining different systems of knowledge to reap benefits from the interaction and competition among different methods and interpretative tools. I would like to argue that cognitive translatology opens up new possibilities that require a fresh epistemological approach, one that allows for the toleration and integration of different knowledge systems. Far from being a relativist stance defending that all systems are of knowledge equally useful or appropriate, pluralism entails a functional assessment framework for competing models, which I introduce, so that we can improve our empirical designs and streamline our theoretical frameworks.


Cognitive translation studies
Cognitive translatology

Scanning the Process of Translation with fMRI: A Neuro-Cognitive Investigation into English-Chinese Sight Translation

Binghan Zheng (Durham University)


The theoretical and methodological boundaries of translation process research (TPR) are expanding with the rapid development of empirical exploration of the cognitive processes of translation based on observation and logging of translation behavior in the last few decades. However, the existing TPR research model could be further enriched by some technology developed in neuroscience, such as fMRI. 

In this research, we designed to use fMRI to study the processing of visually presented sentences in two tasks, i.e. reading aloud and sight translation between Mandarin and English. We recruited 25 participants from Chinese/English female bilinguals with mandarin Chinese as L1 and English as L2. A set of 96 simple sentences was used as the stimulus materials, half of them in authentic English and half in their Mandarin counterparts. We used the reading task as the baseline in comparison with sight translation to find out cortical areas that specifically subserve sight translation, and how they active differently in different translation directions. Our findings include: 1) reading/translating English has more activation on visual word form area; 2) translating is more effortful and recruits some domain general neural networks beyond domain specific (language) regions; 3) forward translation is more demanding and require further cognitive resources and additional motor mechanisms; and 4) forward translation has more activation on middle temporal lobe, which functions greatly in conceptual mediation and representation. Three areas of research converge in this study: process of English-Mandarin sight translation, neuroimaging research on visually presented sentences, and research on translation directionality. 


Process of translation
English-Chinese translation
Sight translation
Cognitive neuroscience research


Can Translators be Judged by their Intelligence? A Study on the Impact of Cognitive Aptitudes on Translation

Carmen María Alarcón, Ana Rojo and Julián Jesús Arense (Universidad de Murcia)
Presented by: Carmen María Alarcón and Ana Rojo


Does a particular cognitive profile influence the translation process? And if so, what factors or cognitive aptitudes are quality indicators? Truth is there is still much to be done in the field of research to answer these questions. Existing literature on the translator’s cognitive profile in translation studies has so far mainly focused on revealing the role of certain cognitive abilities (e.g., creativity, intuition, emotional intelligence or self-efficacy) in the process and product of literary translation and interpreting. But the question still remains as whether the impact of these abilities may differ in different types of translation. 

To try to shed some light on the role of translators’ intellectual capacity, this study proposes an experiment focused on analysing the role of intelligence in the translation of two different types of texts. The experiment was conducted with 25 fourth-year students from the Translation and Interpreting Degree at the University of Murcia. Participants were first asked to perform a series of psychological tests designed to measure their IQ, aptitude levels and creative intelligence. Then, they were asked to translate two different English texts into Spanish: a literary and a technical one. Scores were assigned to translations according to parameters for overall quality and creativity. 

Results revealed that higher levels of certain cognitive aptitudes may lead to higher quality translations. Interestingly, results point to the crucial role of concentration in translation quality and creativity, especially in originality. In addition, fluid intelligence was also pointed to as essential to a high-quality translation. 


Cognitive aptitudes
Literary translation
Technical translation


Translating Film Language into Words: An Empirical Study on Audio Description Style and the Experience of Visually Impaired Spectators

Floriane Bardini (University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia)


Film experience is an encounter between spectator and film that happens at sensory, sensual, emotional and cognitive level. This experience is made accessible to the visually impaired audience through an intersemiotic translation modality: audio description (AD). Audio describers can deal with film language in different ways in their audio descriptions, for example by filtering out film techniques and describing images denotatively, by using cinematic terminology and mentioning film techniques or by interpreting their meaning. 

We carried out a reception study on AD, concentrating on emotional and cognitive aspects, to investigate how these different strategies affect the experience of visually impaired viewers. Forty-four blind and partially sighted participants answered questionnaires and took part in focus group interviews, which gave us insights into their film experience with different AD styles. The underlying hypothesis was that audio descriptions that are more interpretative of film language would offer a better film experience than those which offer a mere description of what is shown on-screen. Our results confirm this hypothesis. They also shed light on the relationships between emotion, cognition and viewers’ experience.

In this paper, we will first present the tested AD styles and the strategies used to translate film language into audio description. Then, we will detail our experimental procedure, including design, sampling and measurements. Finally, we will present our results, showing how the translation of film language into audio description affects the film experience of AD users and how the emotional intensity of the experience influences comprehension and immersion.


Audio description
Reception research
User experience
Film language


Cognitive Translatology and a Theory of Language

Sandra L. Halverson (Norwegian University of Applied Sciences)


From a starting point within cognitive TS, this paper argues that a theory of language must be central to cognitive translatology of the 4EA type, and that such a theory must be built on a particular set of philosophical commitments. In the paper, the role of a theory of language within 4EA cognition will be outlined with reference to ongoing debates within cognitive science (e.g. Kiverstein 2012; Wilson and Golonka 2013), including reference to the problem of representation and the issue of task specification. Secondly, the presentation will discuss the particular requirements that a theory of language for this purpose must meet and provide a brief overview of current theories that meet these requirements (e.g. some usage-based theories, dynamic systems theory). In closing, a brief excursus on methodological reductionism and holism in scientific enquiry will ground the overarching argument for prioritizing a theory of language. 


Kiverstein, Julian. 2012. “The meaning of embodiment.” Topics in Cognitive Science 4: 740-758. 

Wilson, Andrew E and Sabrina Golanka. 2013. Embodied cognition is not what you think it is.” Frontiers in Psychology 4: 1-13. 


Cognitive translatology
Theory of language
Usage-based theories


Directionality Meets Reality: Reassessing and Reembedding a Thorny Issue in Translation Studies

Bogusława WhyattTomasz Kościuczuk and Marcin Turski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań)
Presented by: Bogusława Whyatt


In today’s globalized reality translation has become a tangible vehicle for interaction and cultural mobility irrespective of the direction in which it is carried out. Still the view that professional translators should translate into their native language remains a powerful axiom supported by theorists (Pokorn 2005) and major players on the translation market, and continues to be a thorny issue in professional translation practice (Pavlović 2007, Whyatt and Kosciuczuk 2013). Yet, the tacit assumption that direct (L1) translation is either easier or superior than inverse (L2) translation has not been empirically validated to a satisfactory degree (Ferreira and Schwieter 2017). In this presentation we report on a research project in which 30 professional translators translated two short texts (a film review and a product description) into their native (Polish) and foreign language (English). The process data were collected in an experimental set-up by three independent tools: key-logging, eye-tracking and screen-capture to provide a comprehensive insight into the cognitive effort invested in producing a target language text, and to assess whether directionality has any impact on the translation process. To further investigate whether directionality has a significant effect on the product we asked experienced target language proof-readers to correct/copyedit the translated texts. We tacitly conclude that directionality is not an issue for professional translators and is very much text type dependent. The study provides convincing evidence that directionality in translation as a form of mediated multilingual communication needs to be reassessed and reembeded in cognitive translation studies.


Inverse translation
Cognitive effort
Multi-method experimental approach
Proof-read translated texts & translation process


The Role of Cultural Background in the Construction of an Implicit Theory about Translation

Maria Carmen Espin-Garcia and Marisa Presas (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)


An implicit theory can be defined as a relatively stable system of knowledge about a domain. Its main characteristic is that it unconsciously guides someone’s behaviour and it is not intentionally created (Dann, 1990).

The research about translation processes and students’ initial theoretical knowledge reveals that they already have an implicit theory about translation. It also reveals that this theory influences the translation process and helps to explain students’ decisions (Presas & Martín de León, 2014). In line with Tymoczko’s suggestion that the concept of translation is not universal (Tymoczko, 2003) we assume that neither are implicit theories about translation and that they vary among cultures.

In our presentation we will discuss the aim, the design and the findings of our research on translation students’ implicit theories. Our informants are students of different levels, language combinations (Chinese-Spanish, German-Spanish) and cultural backgrounds at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting (UAB). The design of our research combines data obtained through a questionnaire about implicit theories and through the analysis of a translation task.


Dann, H.-D. “Subjective theories: A new approach to psychological research and educational practice.” In Everyday Understanding. Social and Scientific Implications, by G. R. Semin & K.J. Gergen, 227-243. London: SAGE, 1990.

Presas Corbella, M. & Martín de León, C. “The role of implicit theories in the non-expert translation process.” MonTI, Special Issue 1, 2014: 273-302.

Tymoczko, M. “Trajectories of Research in Translation Studies.” Meta, 50 (4), 2005: 1082-1097.


Implicit theories
Translation trainees
Translation process
Empirical research



Back to Top




PANEL 02: Grounded Theory in Translation Studies

Panel Organizers:
Michael Carl (Renmin University of China)
Elisabet Tiselius (Stockholm University)
Silvia Hansen-Schirra (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
Moritz Schaeffer (Copenhagen Business School)

Grounded Theory is an inductive theory discovery methodology which is based on a continuous interplay between data collection and data analysis. Its specific approach to theory development is based on a re-iterating cycle of "coding steps" which starts with the analysis of empirical data (as opposed to deploying a pre-existing theory) and which ends with an integrated theoretical framework grounded in the data. The intermediate steps may be described as follows:

  • Simultaneous collection and analysis of data
  • Creation of analytic codes and concepts from inspection of the data
  • Discovery of the basic processes that created the data
  • Inductive construction of abstractions and categories
  • Theoretical sampling to refine categories
  • Writing of analytical memos as a step towards a grounded theory
  • The integration of categories into a theoretical framework

The panel calls for contributions which describe any or all of the coding steps that highlight how codes, concepts, categories and theories emerge from data in the context of translation studies. The panel is open to presentations making use of all kinds of data sources: video, written, spoken or interpreting data, monolingual or multilingual, and all kinds of data acquisition devices which allow for the construction of Grounded Translation Theory from textual data, behavioral or brain activity data, in-depth interviews, man-machine or social interaction, or others.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Michael Carl is Professor at the MTI Education Center of the School of Foreign Languages at Renmin University of China and Director of the Center of Research and Innovation in Translation and Translation Technology (CRITT) at the Copenhagen Business School/Denmark. His current research interest is related to the investigation of human translation processes and interactive machine translation. He has also been working on machine translation, terminology tools, and the implementation of natural language processing software. Dr. Carl has organized numerous workshops, scientific meetings and panels on translation and translation process related topics and published widely in this field of research.

Elisabet Tiselius is Director of Studies for Interpreting at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism at Stockholm University. Elisabet’s research interests are cognitive processes in interpreting, interpreters’ and translators' development of competence and expertise, deliberate practice in interpreting as a carachteristic of expertise, and child language brokering.

Silvia Hansen-Schirra is Professor of English Linguistics and Translation Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germersheim, Germany. Her main research interests include specialized communication, text comprehensibility, post-editing, translation process and competence research. As fellow of the Gutenberg Research College she is the Director of the Translation & Cognition (TRA&CO) Center in Germersheim and co-editor of the online book series Translation and Multilingual Natural Language Processing.

Moritz Schaeffer has received his PhD from the University of Leicester and he has since worked as Research Associate at the Center of Research and Innovation in Translation and Translation Technology (CRITT), Copenhagen Business School, and at the Institute for Language, Cognition and Computation, University of Edinburgh. He is now Research Associate at the TRACO-Lab of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 02:

Data Collection of Visual and Brain Activity: A Combined Method for Analyzing Eye Tracking and fMRI Data in the Context of Translation Studies

Karina Szpak (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)


Human neuroimaging is a growing field with many publications per year. The field has grown around the acquisition and analysis of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data. The increasing ease of access to this technology has resulted in new ground being broken in research on the cognitive aspects of translation (Chang, 2009; Moser-Mercer, 2010; Sturm 2016). As powerful as fMRI is, it cannot address the causal role of a particular brain region in a particular task, therefore correlations between neuroimaging and behavioral methods are necessary (Mather, Cacioppo & Kanwisher, 2013). To address this issue, we provide examples of our own study into the nature of translation processing, which proposes a methodological integration between the analysis of eye tracking and fMRI data. First, we discuss the analysis of fMRI data, from the acquisition of the raw data to its use in locating brain activity. Then, we discuss the analysis of eye tracking data, from the acquisition of the raw data to its use in computing gaze activity. Finally, we discuss the crucial role that the software for data acquisition (E-Prime) plays in synchronizing both the scanning and the eye tracking sessions with the behavioral task. We conclude this presentation by addressing the limitations of this proposal, the future directions in its development, its relationship to other neuroimaging techniques, and the role of functional neuroimaging in translation process research.


Data analysis


‘Monitoring’ in Translation: The Role of Visual Feedback

Silvia Hansen-Schirra (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Moritz Schaeffer (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), and Sandra Louise Halverson (Norwegian University of Applied Sciences)
Presented by: Moritz Schaeffer


One construct currently experiencing a revival within TPR is the notion of ‘monitoring’, or ‘a monitor’ as mechanism of mental control (e.g. Tirkkonen-Condit 2005; Schaeffer and Carl 2013). This paper queries the theoretical content of this construct by considering it relative to a model of working memory in writing (Chenoweth and Hayes 2003) and to work within bilingualism studies (de Groot 2011:326ff). 

A crucial element of monitoring in translation is the visual feedback available on the computer screen. This characteristic is exploited in an exploratory study of monitoring activity. The study utilizes two conditions, with and without visual feedback from the typed target text, in order to try to identify some of the characteristics of monitoring. The effect of the visibility of the target on both the behaviour (eye movements, keystrokes and reaction times) and the product will be investigated. Previous studies show that visual feedback has an effect on low level execution processes, but not high level processes such as formulation (Olive and Piolat 2002), that task time (original writing) is significantly reduced while inter-key-press latencies are inhibited significantly, but only slightly (Torrance et al 2016). As monitoring in translation also involves cross-linguistic assessments, it is not expected that the same effects will be found. The empirical results will be fed back into existing theoretical models to explain control mechanisms during translation. 


Monitor model
Mental control
Visual feedback


Identifying Problems in Translation Process Data – from Empirical Analyses to a Theoretical Model

Jean Nitzke (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)


Translation and post-editing can often be categorised as problem-solving activities. When the translation of a source text unit is not obvious to the translator at first sight, or in other words, when there is a hurdle between the source item and the target item, the translation process can be considered problematic. On the other hand, when there is no hurdle between the source and target text, the translator rather solves a task and not a problem (adapted from Dörner 1987). In recent studies, think aloud protocols have been used to identify problems in translation sessions, e.g. Krings (2001) or Kubiak (2009). However, think aloud protocols have many disadvantages, including that the use of the method changes the translation process (Jakobson 2003) and that translators cannot completely reproduce what is going on in their mind (Jääskeläinen 2010). 

This talk will present a model which suggests how to identify problems on a word level with the help of keylogging and eyetracking data. I analysed the data of 24 translators (twelve professionals and twelve semi-professionals) who produced translations from scratch from English into German, and post-edited MT output for this study, which is part of the CRITT TPR-DB database (Carl et. al. 2016). In this data frame, I modelled with the help of a regression analysis for each PoS which parameters of a series of keylogging parameters, namely Munit, InEff, HTra, and HCross (cf. ibid.), can contribute to identify problems by triangulating eyetracking data and production time.


Problem solving
Translation process research


Process Studies and Post-editing Training: Investigating English-Chinese Post-editing Process in the Classroom

Yanfang Jia (Hunan University), Xiangling Wang (Hunan University), and Michael Carl (Renmin University of China)
Presented by: Yanfang Jia


This study presents a series of translation process experiments carried out in a Master of Translation and Interpreting (MTI) course in China. The research was designed to facilitate the PE training purpose and to empirically test the impact of task types, text types, translation briefs, and post-editing (PE) guidelines on temporal, technical and cognitive efforts in the English-Chinese PE and human translation (HT) processes. The three efforts were gauged by production time per word, insertions, and deletions of keystrokes, and pause to word ratio (PWR) with a pause threshold of 1000ms, respectively. Thirty-one MTI students were assigned to translate/post-edit six texts according to specific translation briefs, which called for good enough quality for internal or publishable quality for external disseminations. Light and full TAUS PE guidelines were provided for corresponding PE tasks. Triangulated data from keystroke logging, screen recording, questionnaires, subjects’ guided interviews and written protocols were used for analysis. The preliminary results suggest that a) post-editing significantly reduces temporal, technical and cognitive efforts compared to translating manually; b) light post-editing takes more time than full post-editing; c) the students found PE different from human translation in many ways. They also reported various challenges in the post-editing process, mainly due to the influence of their previous translation training, lack of experience in PE and the ambiguous wording of the guidelines. The results also indicate that the direct use of process studies in the classroom can be effective both for producing quantitatively valid research findings and fulfilling pedagogical functions.


Post-editing Effort
Post-editing Guidelines
Text type
Post-editing Training
Translation process
MTI students


The Revision Phase under the Spotlight: Fast Drafting, Long Revision?

Anke Tardel, Moritz Schaeffer and Sivlia Hansen-Schirra (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
Presented by: Anke Tardel


Research on revision during translation continues to move into the focus of TPR (Mossop/Künzli 2014). To date, there is very little knowledge about the behavior during this phase. The CRITT Translation Process Research Data Base (TPR-DB) (Carl et al. 2016) contains a lot of keylogging and eye tracking data from multilingual translation studies presented in tables featuring measures such as durations and timestamps that describe the translator’s behavior during translation. We used the timestamps to calculate the absolute and relative durations for the orientation, drafting and revision phase (Jakobson 2002). In this study, we look at a multilingual subset of six studies from the TPR-DB to investigate the effect of keyboard and gaze activity during the drafting phase on the revision phase. Further, we investigate the effect of this behavior in relation to the behavior during the revision phase on the quality (Mertin 2006) of the final target text. We find that participants with longer average pauses between continuous text production and more concurrent target text reading during the drafting phase tend to have shorter relative revision phases while non-sequential typing during drafting results in longer relative revision phases. We also find shorter relative revision phases with more relative source and target text reading during drafting. We find fewer deletions in the revision phase the longer the relative drafting phase is, and the more deletions and concurrent target text reading and typing occur during drafting. These results will be discussed in relation to current models of the translation process.


Translation process research
Translation revision
Grounded theory
Eye tracking


Intermediate Versions in the Translation of Popular Scientific Texts

Arndt Heilmann and Stella Neumann (RWTH Aachen University)


Translation involves monitoring of the produced text and this may lead to early or late revision in the genesis of a translated text (Tirkkonen-Condit 2005). These revisions can be related to typos, but also to functionally relevant changes such as choosing a different word or wording for the translation of a stretch of text. Alves and Couto Vale (2011) showed that it is possible to identify different revision profiles based on macro and microunits of translations. We assume that an analysis of intermediate versions can also benefit from taking behavioural information as well as linguistic information of the source text, target text and intermediate text(s) into account. In combination with the assessment of behavioural measures and linguistic functions related this procedure will allow us to construct categories to describe different types of intermediate version in the translation process. These categories are going to be based on reading and typing behaviour related to the production and deletion of the intermediate version and the intermediate version’s linguistic function. To his end, source, target and intermediate texts are part-of-speech annotated with TreeTagger (Schmid 1995) and manually enriched with functional linguistic categories from the Cardiff Grammar (Fawcett 2007). Creating bottom up categories derived from triangulated multiple data sources may help describe the revision process in translation more aptly than looking at either data source in isolation. When comparing the bottom up categories to the final version of the text, it becomes possible to generate hypotheses about the decision process of a translator.


Intermediate Versions
Keystroke Logging
Translation Process Studies


Searching for Deverbalization: Can Neuroimaging Provide Physiological Evidence of Deeper Processing?

Masaru Yamada and Shoko Toyokura (Kansai University)


Translation is theorized to involve deverbalization, through which the translator works beyond finding word-for-word equivalencies (transcoding) to grasp the meaning of a source text in context. This activity is also referred to as deep processing and allows translators to convey the underlying messages of source texts accurately. Although this model allows translation students and practitioners to conceptualize the translation process, it has been criticized because of the lack of any physiological evidence of deverbalization.

This research attempts to visualize deverbalization during translation by drawing on the neuroimaging technology NIRS (near-infrared spectroscopy) to capture translators’ brain activity. Based on previous studies (Sakai, 2005) showing that both L1 and L2 are processed in the same area of the brain, near Broca’s area (the grammar center) in the left hemisphere, the authors investigate the brain activity of translators coping with translation difficulties that normally require high cognitive effort. It is assumed that when deverbalization or deep processing is triggered, areas in the brain other than (or in addition to) the grammar center are activated and can be observed through NIRS. This study confirms that the application of neuroimaging in translation process research is a valuable method for understanding the details of our cognition, particularly in making connections between high cognitive effort activities and brain functions.


Translation process research


Recognition and Characterization of Translator Expertise using Motor and Perceptual Activities

Pascual Martínez-Gómez (Tokyo Institute of Technology)


The process of translating is a complex human activity that seems to resist modern techniques of fine-grained modeling. Our grand objective is to reach greater levels of understanding of the translation process and ultimately build interfaces and predictive models that ease the translation task. In this talk we suggest a framework to construct such a model and describe how we can also use it to identify characteristic behavioral patterns of translator expertise. In this framework, we first hypothesize a causal relationship between the expertise of a translator and her behavioral patterns. Then, we automatically construct a function that quantifies such a relationship using TPR-DB, a database that records motor and perceptual activities of translators with different levels of expertise. Using this function, we discovered that expert translators spent larger proportions of time in the concurrent activities of reading the source text and typing the target text, when compared to non-expert translators. Thus, we conjecture that favoring these concurrent activities when designing user interfaces of computer-assisted translation systems may ease the translation process. In our experiments, we also found that perceptual activities (as measured by an eye-tracker) greatly contribute to the characterization of translator expertise and thus we recommend its use in similar studies. In this talk we will describe in detail our framework and discuss the challenges of jointly analyzing motor (keystrokes) and perceptual (reading) activities to gain deeper understanding of the translation process.


Translation Process Research
Predictive Models


Towards a Finer-Grained Classification of Translation Styles Based on Eye-Tracking, Key-Logging and RTP Data

Jia Feng and Michael Carl (Renmin University of China)


This research endeavors to reach a finer-grained classification of translation styles based on observations of Translation Progression Graphs that integrate translation process data and translation product data. Translation styles are first coded based on the findings and classification of Jakobsen (2002), Carl et al. (2011) and Dragsted & Carl (2013). The qualitative observations from TPGs are further triangulated with observations of quantitative data from the TPRDB tables (c.f. Carl et al. 2016). Findings are again triangulated with translators’ cued retrospective protocol data which also help explain our findings. 

Eye-tracking and keystroke logging data have been collected from 43 postgraduate Chinese students translating 2 texts from English into Chinese and 2 texts from Chinese to English, with 2 levels of source text difficulty in each translation direction. No time limit is set for the translation tasks. Each translation task is immediately followed by a retrospective protocol with the eye-tracking replay as the cue. We are also interested to see whether translation directionality and source text difficulty would have an impact on translation styles. 

We try to explore 1) the translation styles in terms of different ways of allocating attention to the three phases of translation process, 2) the translation styles in the orientation phase, 3) the translation styles in the drafting phase, with a special focus on online-planning, backtracking, online-revision, as well as the distribution of attention to ST and TT respectively, 4) the translation styles in the revision & monition phase with a special focus on end-revision. 


Translation styles
Translation Progression Graphs
Keystroke logging
Cued Retrospective Protocols


Back to Top



PANEL 03-i 

PANEL 03-i: Translation Quality Assessment: From Principles to Practice

Panel Organizers:
Sheila Castilho (Dublin City University)
Stephen Doherty (University of New South Wales)
Federico Gaspari (Università per Stranieri "Dante Alighieri" & Dublin City University) 
Joss Moorkens (Dublin City University)

This panel is intended to focus on human and machine translation quality and evaluation, with the aim of bringing together research from academic and industry settings that describes how they are combined in practice. This is critical to successful communication between cultures, and to the successful integration of translation technologies in the industry today, where the lines between human and machine are becoming increasingly blurred by technology. Quality evaluation affects the whole translation landscape, from students and trainers to project managers and professionals, including in-house and freelance translators, as well as, of course, translation scholars and researchers. The panel conveners have extensive experience of translation quality evaluation, within the ADAPT Centre and the QT Launchpad and TraMOOC EU-funded projects. In addition, their co-edited book (sharing a title with this panel) is due to be published in early 2018 by Springer.

Contributors might present work on:

  • Evaluation of technology in intercultural communication
  • Industry or institutional quality evaluation
  • Domain-specific quality evaluation
  • Evaluation of novel machine translation systems
  • Or any other topic pertaining to translation quality evaluation such as error typologies, quality estimation, or automatic metrics.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:

Sheila Castilho holds a Master's in Natural Language Processing and obtained her PhD from Dublin City University in 2016. Currently, she is a post-doctoral researcher at the TraMOOC project in ADAPT Centre focusing on machine and human evaluation of automatically translated subtitles. Her research interests include machine translation, post-editing, machine and human translation evaluation, usability, and translation technologies.

Stephen Doherty is a Senior Lecturer and Program Convenor of Linguistics, Interpreting and Translation at the University of New South Wales. His research is based in the interaction between language, cognition, and technology. His current work investigates the cognitive aspects of human and machine language processing with a focus on translation and language technologies using a combination of traditional task performance measures, eye tracking, psychometrics, and electroencephalography.

Federico Gaspari has a background in translation studies and holds a PhD in machine translation from the University of Manchester (UK). He is Associate Professor of English Linguistics and Translation Studies at the University for Foreigners ‘Dante Alighieri’ of Reggio Calabria (Italy), and is a postdoctoral researcher at the ADAPT Centre in Dublin City University (Ireland), where he works on EU-funded international research projects focusing on machine translation quality evaluation and post-editing. His main teaching and research interests include translation technologies, technical and specialised translation, translation theory and corpus linguistics.

Joss Moorkens is a lecturer at the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University and is a member of the ADAPT Centre and the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies. He currently leads development of a multimodal translation editing interface and contributes to the TraMOOC EU-funded project. He has authored journal articles and book chapters on topics such as translation technology, post-editing of machine translation, human and automatic translation quality evaluation, and ethical issues in translation technology in relation to both machine learning and professional practice.


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 03-i:

Is NMT the New Black? An Empirical Investigation of the Effort Required of Translators when Post-Editing NMT Output and SMT Output

Vilelmini Sosoni and Maria Stasimioti (Ionian University)


The increase in the volume of materials requiring translation has prompted the translation industry to pay closer attention to Machine Translation (MT). The use of Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) systems has been at the center of focus for a long time, but from 2015 onwards the situation began to change with the development of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems (Cho et al., 2014, Bahdanau et al., 2015), which are trained to "maximize the possibility of a correct translation" (Bahdanau et al., 2015) without external language information. The results from the evaluation of the quality of NMT systems quickly reached or exceeded the results from the evaluation of the quality of SMT systems, despite several years of development of the latter (Bahdanau et al., 2015; Bentivogli et al., 2016; Wu et al., 2016; Sennrich et al., 2016; Castilho et al, 2017). Under that light, the purpose of this study is to identify, on the basis of eye-tracking data and keystroke logging data, the temporal effort, the technical effort and the cognitive effort (Krings, 2001) required of translators while performing full post-editing of SMT and NMT output. In particular, 20 translators are asked to post-edit 2 texts of NMT output and 2 texts of SMT output (English-Greek translations of educational material). The results of the research highlight the effort required in the post-editing process and illuminate the brain function of translators when dealing with output from different MT systems.


Cognitive effort


Translation Quality, Quality Management and Agency - Principles and Practice in the European Union Institutions

Joanna Drugan (University of East Anglia), Ingemar Strandvik (European Commission Directorate-General for Translation), and Erkka Vuorinen (European Commission Directorate-General for Translation)
Presented by: Joanna Drugan


Translation quality and translation quality management are key concerns for the European Commission's Directorate General for Translation (DGT), and the European Union institutions more broadly. Translated texts may be legally binding, politically sensitive, confidential or important for the image of the institutions. For legislative texts, an important principle of EU law is that there is no ‘original’: all language versions are equivalent and equally authentic. Consistency in translation strategies and the approach to quality is therefore critical.

How does this principle translate into practice in EU institutions? We explain how DGT's quality management policy defines quality and how it should be managed, then demonstrate why achieving ‘equivalent’ quality across all language versions, translators, and institutions is hard. We examine how translated texts are dealt with - by both humans and machines - in the attempt to achieve this goal.

Last, we widen the focus to consider what these challenges and the EU approach mean for translators and their agency. Issues of translation quality are also issues of ethics, power relations and professional values.


Translation quality
Translation quality management
European Union
Directorate General for Translation
Translation practice


Risk-Based Evaluation of Translations

Carmen Canfora (University of Mainz/FTSK Germersheim) and Angelika Ottmann (Die RisikoScouts)


Errors in translations can have unforeseen and, to some extent, disastrous consequences – from loss of reputation to serious injury or even loss of life. These errors could be caused e.g. by cultural differences which have not been paid attention to by the translator. Such consequences can affect the translator or translation service provider, the customer and/or the end user of the translation. 

Recently, translation risk management (TRM) has started to gain attention in translation science. Core elements of TRM are risk assessment, treatment and monitoring. The international standard ISO 31000:2009, Risk management – Principles and guidelines, provides the framework for risk management models. As in quality management, in risk management we must determine whether the measures to minimize risks have been correctly implemented and whether they have been effective. Only then, a continuous improvement process will be achieved (cf. ISO 9001:2015). 

To minimize risks effectively, we need a translation evaluation method which takes these risks into account. Existing error metrics (e.g. LISA QA model, SAE J2450, MQM) are less suitable, because – although they usually provide error severities – the weighting criteria do not reflect the risks inherent in a translation. 

The aim of this presentation is to present a model for a risk-based evaluation of translations, which allows for transparent verification of measures to minimize risks. The model is also suited for assessment of consequences of errors in machine translation as well as for the selection of translation service providers and revisers in day-to-day translation business. 


Translation quality evaluation
Translation risk management
Risk-based evaluation
ISO 31000
ISO 9001


Evaluating Translation Quality through Quantitative Corpus Analysis

Daniel Henkel (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-St-Denis)


This corpus-based study using comparable (untranslated) and parallel (translated) corpora in English and French is intended to demonstrate how NLP and statistical tools can be used to measure the quality of a target language in terms of its resemblance to the source language. Observations were made using an 8-million-word corpus consisting of four 2-million-word subcorpora: 

  • 20 works in original English by 20 different authors, 
  • the translations of these into French, 
  • 20 works in original French by 20 different authors, 
  • the translations of these into English, 

so as to allow three different quantitative comparisons: 

  • between original English and original French, 
  • between source and target texts, 
  • between English-translated-from-French (EtrF) and original English, and between French-translated-from-English (FtrE) and original French. 

All 80 original and translated texts were aligned at paragraph or sentence level, tagged by part of speech and lemma, and analysed using regular expressions targeting specific syntactic constructions such as existential predications, reflexive constructions or the conditional. The frequencies of corresponding constructions in source and target texts were evaluated using Spearman's correlation test to identify possible interlinguistic interferences, while intralinguistically the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney rank-sum test was used to compare authors and translators, and more specifically to determine whether the language produced by translators displays the same overall characteristics as the language produced by authors in their own language. In each case, significant differences were found demonstrating the ways in which English-translated-from-French and French-translated-from-English differ qualitatively from the source languages, as well as asymmetrical interferences in translation.


English-French translation
Natural Language Processing
Statistical analysis


Back to Top



PANEL 03-ii 

PANEL 03-ii: Assessing and Evaluating Translator and Translation Quality: Empirical Approaches for Commercial and Pedagogical Purposes

Panel Organizers:
Geoffrey S. Koby (Kent State University)
Isabel Lacruz (Kent State University)

Two recent volumes (Translator Quality—Translation Quality: Empirical Approaches to Assessment and Evaluation, ed. Koby and Lacruz, and New Perspectives in Assessment in Translator Training, ed. Huertas Barros and Vine) focus on the issue of translator and translation assessment and evaluation from both empirical and pedagogical perspectives and confirm substantial current interest in this perennial yet thorny issue. In alignment with the theme of “translation and cultural mobility,” we argue that cultural mobility is impossible without high-quality translations. However, translation quality measurement remains a challenging task and new methodologies are still evolving. Non-traditional perspectives, such as supplementing the product-based notion of quality with the user-based notion of utility, encourage increased focus on how cultural differences might play a role in translation quality assessment. Although various methods have been proposed for measuring the translation product and pedagogical models have been devised for feedback to translation learners or professionals on product and/or process, none are completely satisfactory and few explicitly address cultural adjustments that are intrinsic to high quality translation. There is a pressing need for refinement and innovation in the measurement of machine (and human) translation quality and utility, along with post-editing quality and utility. The trade-off between effort and quality or utility is also significant, little understood, but important to measure. However, no broad consensus exists on how to measure translator or translation quality and utility for either human or machine translation.

This panel will focus on empirical approaches to assessing and evaluating translator quality and translation quality and utility from both commercial, cultural, and pedagogical perspectives. In addition to proposals for innovative methodologies, it will include examination of the interactions among methods for assessment (including process and product assessment), needs for assessment (for the classroom vs. for the translation industry), and approaches to assessment Contributions should address translator/translation/post-editing quality and utility from an empirical perspective using data-driven analyses and interpretations.

A list of suggested topics that intending contributors might address:

  • Process-oriented assessment
  • How translation processes affect translation quality and utility
  • Factors causing variation in translation quality and utility
  • Influence of measurement on quality and utility
  • Language proficiency and translation quality and utility
  • Product-oriented assessment
  • Machine translation quality/post-editing quality and utility
  • Models for feedback to translators (pedagogical or commercial)
  • Diagnostic vs. formative vs. summative assessment
  • Quality/utility levels vs. effort
  • Pedagogical assessment vs. commercial assessment (bridging the gap)
  • Assessment for certification
  • Case studies on translation quality assessment
  • Cultural aspects of translation quality and utility assessment

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Geoffrey S. Koby, Ph.D., is Professor of Translation Studies and German at Kent State University. His research focuses on translation quality assessment and evaluation along with translation pedagogy. Recent publications include an edited volume, Economic, Financial and Business Translation: from Theory to Training and Professional Practice, with Gallego Hernández and Román Mínguez (2016), “Developing a specialized corpus database for ATA translator certification examinations” (2016), and “The ATA Flowchart and Framework as a Differentiated Error-Marking Scale in Translation Teaching” (2015). He is currently working on a co-edited volume entitled Translator Quality—Translation Quality: Empirical Approaches to Assessment and Evaluation, with Isabel Lacruz (2017).

Isabel Lacruz, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Translation Studies and Spanish Translation at Kent State University. Lacruz’ research focuses on the cognitive processes involved in translation and post-editing, and translation quality and utility assessment and evaluation. Lacruz co-organized panels at the IATIS 2015 conference in Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and at the EST 2016 conference in Aarhus (Denmark). Recent publications include a co-edited volume with Riitta Jääskeläinen, Innovation and Expansion in Translation Process Research (forthcoming). She is the author of several peer-reviewed theoretical and empirical articles and book chapters. She is currently working on a co-edited volume entitled Translator Quality—Translation Quality: Empirical Approaches to Assessment and Evaluation, with Geoffrey S. Koby (2017).


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 03-ii:

Using Self-Assessment and Peer Assessment Summatively in Translator Education: The Test of Validity

Sonja Kitanovska-Kimovska (Ss Cyril and Methodius University – Skopje)


My previous research on summative self-assessment (SA) and peer assessment (PA) in translator training (forthcoming) tested the validity of SA and PA and gathered students’ and teachers’ opinions on using SA and PA summatively. The results showed that in the current experimental setup SA and PA are not a valid form of assessment, but conditions can be created to make them viable so that they gain students’ and teachers’ acceptance and confidence. The paper suggested involving students in criteria development, giving students training in applying the criteria in assessment, ensuring anonymity of peer assessment, using weighted marks and averaged multiple peer assessments as possible amendments to the research methodology that might produce different results. This paper builds on these findings and attempts to test these suggestions. 

The purpose of this paper is to test the validity of SA and PA in translator education. I use Kearney’s (2013) authentic self- and peer assessment for learning (ASPAL) model as a methodological tool. I replicate Kearney et al.’s (2015) study in the context of translator training on a translation assignment. I follow their ASPAL 6-step process: discussion of the process; student survey; criteria development and pilot marking; submission of assessment; self- and peer-assessment; and return of assessment and debriefing. The experiment is conducted at the Department of Translation and Interpreting at Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje among final year undergraduate students of translation (around 30 students). The results show if SA and PA can be used summatively in translator training. 


Translator training
Summative assessment
Peer assessment


Linking Assessment from the Profession into Classroom Teaching: A Comparative Analysis of Trainee Translators’ Peer Assessment and Editor’s Assessment

Wan Hu (Central University of Finance and Economics)


Assessment is of paramount significance in the learning and teaching process. So is true with translation teaching. Various types of translation assessment tasks are researched and practiced, including translation exercises, translation project with commentary, learning portfolio, etc. (Hurtado A. 2007; Munday 2012; Shih 2017). However, incorporating assessment and feedback from the translation profession into classroom teaching, though proposed by many scholars, is still under researched. 

This paper aims to discuss an innovative formative assessment task, including both trainee translators’ peer review and the editor’s final check, used in a core module for year 2 translation students at a key university in China. Four parts of the paper are addressed. First, stakeholders (the module convenor, students, and the editor from a key media platform in China) and the teaching flow of the module are introduced. Students, working in groups, translate English news into Chinese, review their peers’ translation, and write reflective learning report. The editor revises students’ translation and publishes their work. After this, the module convenor summarises and comments on students’ exercises. Second, the author argues the rationales for using and integrating both students’ assessment results and the editor’s approved versions in such a university-profession collaborative translation classroom. Third, the author compares students’ assessment styles (i.e. focusing more on grammatical rules, less on coherence and cohesion) and the editor’s version (i.e. the fluency of the TL and register) and explains why. Finally, the motivational function and shortcomings of such assessment tasks are provided for optimising teaching effectiveness in the future. 


Professional assessment
Peer assessment
Collaborative teaching
News translation


A Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Approach in Assessing Translation Quality. Translating Administrative Documents from French to English for a Ugandan Audience

Enoch Sebuyungo (Makerere University)


Although language translation activities have grown steadily in Uganda over the past two decades, the specific characteristics and challenges of this type of work are yet to be fully explored. The present project examines the specific practices involved when documents are translated from French into English for administrative purposes in Uganda. Although underexplored in translation studies in Africa, the translation of administrative documents presents a novel and revelatory context for examining translation practices and theory. Framed in Nida’s theory of dynamic equivalence, through a sociolinguistic and pragmatic lens, this study explores how translating administrative documents, by focusing on linguistic equivalences without taking into account different national institutional systems, can be misleading. The argument is made that sociolinguistic variables and Grice’s pragmatic maxims are essential in enhancing translation quality. A sample of 150 pairs of document extracts, and their translations dating from 2011-2017, was purposively selected. This corpus’ extracts, originating from 19 Francophone countries, cover three broad categories: Education, Legal, and Administrative Correspondence. 20 translators and 12 end users were interviewed to provide feedback regarding the translation quality of examples extracted from the corpus. Data is analysed using sociolinguistic and pragmatic criteria. Finally, the analysis is positioned within the broader scholarship on translation studies to demonstrate how this approach expands our knowledge regarding translation quality and utility.


Translation Quality
Administrative documents



Learning to Post-edit: An Analysis of Post-editing Quality and Processes of Translation Students

Maarit Koponen (University of Turku)


Recent developments in machine translation (MT) technology, particularly neural MT, offer great potential for improvement in MT quality. In many language pairs, the use of MT as a raw version to be post-edited by translators has been common practice for years, and is increasing also in languages where MT quality has so far lagged behind. The rationale for this practice is that post-editing increases productivity compared to translation from scratch, relying on the assumption - and common guideline - that only minimal, necessary corrections are performed. In practice, however, what constitutes a necessary change and how to perform that change with the least amount of effort is less clear. Open questions therefore remain concerning the relationship between post-editing quality and effort in the post-editing process. This also poses challenges for translator training, where methods are needed both for assessing the product and the process of post-editing. 

This paper examines the post-editing quality and processes of translation students taking part in specialized post-editing courses in 2016 and 2017. Process data collected during the course is used to investigate the post-editing strategies and processes of different students, and the paper aims to investigate the relationship between effort and quality by combining an analysis of effort indicators (keystrokes, pauses, gaze data) with an assessment of the quality of the post-edited texts. Through an analysis of reflective essays, the paper also examines how process data can help the students get feedback and gain insight into their own processes. 


Translation quality
Post-editing process
Post-editing effort


A Diagnostic Post-editing Test: Results from a Pilot Study

Gys-Walt van Egdom (Zuyd University of Applied Sciences), Lucas N Vieira (University of Bristol), Jakub Absolon ( the Philosopher University), and Marcos Aranda (TRIDIOM/Universidad Pontificia Comillas)
Presented by: Lucas N Vieira


Previous research has made it clear that in contexts where machine translation is used in human translation workflows, the concept of translator competence is at best problematic. In these contexts, translators’ level of professional experience has not always shown positive effects on translating productivity or product quality, while their attitude to technology is often mentioned as a factor in their performance. This talk will provide preliminary results of an attempt at developing a diagnostic tool that can help to shed light on this issue. In a joint initiative involving academic and commercial perspectives, we will report on the process of giving translators a post-editing test that is hoped to facilitate translator quality assessment in contexts where machine translation is used in the human translating process. While we ground our approach in existing models of translation and revision competence, the test is directly informed by empirical results from post-editing research. It will involve components focused on translators’ practical editing skills, on their disposition to use technology, their ability to evaluate machine translation suggestions and their own perceptions of their productivity and performance. Ultimately, the test is not envisaged to provide results that are only applicable to specific interfaces or editing modes. As translators’ interaction with technology becomes more diverse and the line between different computer-aided translation features becomes more blurred, we expect the test to be useful in a range of scenarios, including identifying suitable translators for a post-editing project or flagging translation students who might need extra training and support.


Machine translation



Exploring Translation at the Interface with Corporate Communications: Implications for Translator and Translation Quality

Gary Massey and Regine Wieder (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences)


As international communication management gains momentum and translation acquires an increasingly strategic function in organisations (Huck-Sandhu, 2015, 2016; Massardo et al. 2016), the intercultural mediation inherent in translators’ work (Liddicoat, 2016) makes them well-positioned to play an integral part in assessing and assuring output quality in international, multilingual corporate communications. However, dedicated quality standards for translation service provision (e.g. ISO 17100) envisage only restricted feed-forward and feedback interactions between translators and the organisations they work for. Moreover, evidence of translators’ self-concept (Katan, 2011) shows them underequipped to adopt the evaluative, advisory and (co-)creative roles that meaningful cooperation with corporate communications specialists suggests. This paper reports on a pilot study conducted at the interface between translation and corporate communications in Switzerland. It presents findings from a questionnaire survey of more than 250 translators, project managers and communications specialists, triangulated with data from follow-up interviews and student evaluations of interdisciplinary projects aimed at integrating the two fields more closely. The results reveal unevenly developed feed-forward and evaluative feedback cultures across sectors, organisations and work profiles, together with an implicit perception of translators’ roles that underplays the adaptive value-added of human translation as creative intercultural mediation (cf. Katan, 2016; Liddicoat, 2016; Massey & Ehrensberger-Dow, 2017). The implications for quality assessment and assurance as well as translator education and professional development are discussed, with recommendations made for future interdisciplinary R&D.


Corporate communications
Quality assurance
Quality assessment
Translator self-concept



Analysing Developmental Evidence in Process-Oriented Assessment in the Translation Classroom: A Problem-Solving Perspective

Si Cheng (University of Manchester)


In the translation classroom, translation quality assessment is mainly aimed at assessing learners’ translation competence. With the increasing popularity of process-oriented approaches in translation education, the assessment of learners’ translation competence in their translation processes also becomes increasingly important. A number of designs and tools for gathering developmental evidence from the translation process have been proposed (for example, the use of learning journals), but there are relatively fewer discussions on how the gathered evidence can be analysed or interpreted in process-oriented assessment.

This paper aims to discuss the analysis of developmental evidence gathered from the translation process with a problem-solving perspective. It proposes to conceptualise translation competence from a problem-solving perspective, based on which the development of translation competence in the translation process is more clearly understood. A longitudinal study is conducted among a small group of MA translation learners, using translation task-based interviews to gather data on their translation problem-solving activities, which is then processed and analysed within the proposed theoretical framework. Findings from the data analysis demonstrate the relevance and utility of the translation problem-solving perspective and also reveal individual paths and shared patterns in learners’ translation competence development. The proposed theoretical framework provides a feasible analytical framework for the analysis of developmental evidence gathered from learners’ translation processes. Moreover, the translation task-based interview designed for the empirical study also offers inspirations for future use of learning journals (for example, the structured translation problem-solving reports) in process-oriented pedagogical assessment.


Translation competence development
Developmental evidence
Problem solving
Process-oriented assessment
Translation pedagogy


Back to Top



PANEL 03-iii 

PANEL 03-iii: Quality in Cultural Mobility: The Impact of Technology-supported Interpreting on Performance Quality and Communication

Panel Organizers:
Sabine Braun (University of Surrey)
Franz Pöchhacker (University of Vienna)

One of the key features of mobility is the notion of movement. Advances in public and private transport since the early 20th century have fostered physical mobility, especially as a pattern of work life and in the form of politically or economically motivated migration, but the digital revolution of the 21st century, by enabling virtual mobility, has created unprecedented opportunities for the ‘movement’ of ideas and cultures across the globe. The shift from physical to virtual mobility is also changing the way interpreters work and interact with their clients. Just as the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) has virtualised the contact zones for cross-cultural encounters, so the interpreters as facilitators of these encounters have become agents of cultural mobility who operate in virtual spaces. On the one hand, virtual multilingual meetings using video- or tele-conferencing technologies require the integration of interpreters as virtual participants; on the other hand, the same technologies are used to overcome the constraints of the interpreter’s physical co-presence by accessing (qualified) interpreters remotely.

However, whilst the use of ICT to connect primary participants and interpreters creates an array of opportunities and configurations for promoting and indeed enabling cultural mobility, it also adds a new layer of complexity to interpreter-mediated communication. Linguistic and cultural mediation is complemented by technological mediation. The direct interaction between the interpreters and the primary participants is replaced by their interaction through the medium of technology. These developments raise important issues for the interpreting profession. The proposed panel will address one of them in particular, i.e. the issue of quality across different modalities of ICT-supported interpreting. Bearing in mind the importance of quality as a conditio sine qua non in professional interpreting as well as the complex and multi-faceted nature of the theoretical construct of quality, the panel aims to explore the impact of combining linguistic/cultural and technological mediation on interpreting quality in the broadest sense, i.e. on the interpreters, their perception and their performance; on the primary interlocutors, and their communicative contribution and interaction with the others; and on the communicative dynamics and the communicative event as a whole.

List of suggested topics that prospective contributors might address:

  • How does technological mediation affect the quality of interpreters’ performance and of the communicative process as a whole?
  • How does the quality of technology-mediated interpreting compare to onsite interpreting and to what extent is this comparison valid and appropriate?
  • What are the responses of different stakeholder groups to various modalities of technology-supported interpreting and quality of service?
  • To what extent does our understanding of interpreting quality need to be adjusted in order to accommodate the discussion of technology-supported interpreting?
  • Which aspects of interpreting quality emerge as relevant in technology-supported modalities of interpreter-mediated communication?
  • What do technology-supported modalities of interpreting reveal about the relationship between interpreter-mediated interaction and interpreting quality?
  • How does the use of communication technologies to link primary participants and interpreters impact on broader questions such as the interpreter’s role and agency, and the way interpreters are perceived by their clients?
  • Which methods are best suited to advancing the study of interpreting quality in technology-supported modalities of interpreting?

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Sabine Braun is Professor of Translation Studies and Director of the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Surrey in the UK. Her research focuses on new methods, modalities and socio-technological practices of translation and interpreting. She has a long-standing interest in video-mediated interpreting, where she has adopted discourse analytic, pragmatic and sociological approaches combining qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate and inform the integration of videoconferencing technologies into professional interpreting practice. She has led, and participated in, several international projects relating to videoconferencing and interpreting. This included working with the European Council Working Party on e-Law (e-Justice) to develop guidelines for video-mediated interpreting in legal proceedings, and advising justice sector institutions on the introduction of videoconferencing and interpreting. In 2015, she gave a keynote on video-mediated interpreting at the IATIS conference in Brazil. Sabine’s other research areas include audio description as a new modality of intersemiotic translation, and the use of multimodal technologies in interpreter education. Sabine led an international consortium which developed the first 3D virtual-reality environment to simulate interpreting practice.

Franz Pöchhacker is Associate Professor of Interpreting Studies in the Center for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna. He is the author of the textbook Introducing Interpreting Studies (2004/2016) and editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies (2015) as well as co-editor of Interpreting: International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting. His research encompasses interpreting across professional domains and institutional settings as well as interpreting studies as a discipline. He has a longstanding interest in the study of quality in interpreting, going back to his PhD research in the early 1990s. From 2008 to 2010 he led an Austrian Science Fund project on quality in simultaneous interpreting, which focused on prosodic features in the interpreter’s delivery and on user assessment and comprehension. His more recent involvement in a pilot project designed to deliver video remote interpreting services to Austrian healthcare institutions has foregrounded various aspects of performance quality and the complex interrelationships between mediality and multimodality in this technology-based interactive environment. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 03-iii:

The Interpreter and Her Role Perception in Videoconference Criminal Court Hearings

Jerome Devaux (The Open University)


According to her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service’s (2016) report, videoconference (VC) equipment is increasingly used in criminal court settings in England. This system, often quoted as a means to reduce cost, enhance security, and speed up the legal process enables the defendant to attend virtually his pre-trial court hearing from prison. 

The use of technologies has been explored in monolingual and multilingual court hearings, and various research paradigms have emerged regarding the legality of conducting such hearings, the use of VC equipment, and the impact it has on the interaction. However, the literature reveals that the interpreter’s perception of her role in such a setting remains an under-explored field of study. 

This paper aims to investigate the interpreter’s perception of her role through the analysis of eighteen semi-structured interviews conducted with practising court interpreters. This paper will first introduce Llewellyn-Jones and Lee’s (2014) role-space. It will then briefly describe the methodology and research design used in this study. The data analysis will then reveal the different role-space models created by the interpreters, and the discussion will highlight the reasons why they perceive their role differently. This paper will finally provide some recommendations and avenues for further research. 

Using role-space it will be argued that the participating interpreters’ role perceptions can be classified into three main categories, depending on the extent to which the use of VC equipment and/or other court participants affect their role-perception. 


Videoconference interpreting
Role perception
Court interpreting


Analysing Quality in Video Remote Interpreting: Insights from a Mixed-Methods Approach

Sabine Braun (University of Surrey)


The spread of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) whereby interpreters are spatially separated from their clients has improved access to, and efficiency of, interpreting services, but research shows that VRI is challenging, raising questions about feasibility, working conditions and quality. 

Whilst research in conference settings has found few ‘objective’ differences between the quality of onsite and remote interpreting (Moser-Mercer 2003, Roziner & Shlesinger 2010), research in legal settings has revealed significant differences between the two modalities (Braun 2013, Braun & Taylor 2012). Equally important, both strands of research have identified discrepancies between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ measures of quality, suggesting that some dimensions of quality in VRI are not yet fully understood. 

Building on the research which investigated VRI quality in legal settings by analysing problems in the interpreters’ performance (Braun 2013, Braun & Taylor 2012), this paper uses a mixed-methods approach to examine insights that two further types of analysis can add to our understanding of quality in VRI. The first is a thematic analysis of interpreters’ self-reflections on their performance and interaction with the technology. The second is a multimodal analysis of the linguistic, paralinguistic and embodied resources that interpreters use in VRI, what this reveals about effort and difficulty, and how it can contribute to explaining interpreting problems in VRI. 

The paper highlights the impact of combining linguistic/cultural and technological/spatial mediation on different dimensions of quality; the contributions of different methodological approaches to the study of quality in VRI; and the wider implications for our understanding of interpreting quality. 


Video remote interpreting
Interpreting quality
Research methods


Expanding Interpretation Service Opportunities with On-Demand VRI Platforms: Achievements and Challenges

Andrey Kalinin (Moscow State University)


The last decade revolutionized the interpretation services accessibility by introducing on-demand video remote interpreting (VRI) platforms, which enable users equipped with a trivial smartphone to take advantage of both spoken and sign language interpreting at any time and in any place where broadband Internet connection is available. The financial gain for users seems obvious: they don’t need to incur interpreters’ displacement costs, whilst such platforms allow the reduction of interpreters’ paid working time up to some minutes. However, a broad implementation of on-demand VRI-systems encounters some substantial challenges (prospective users’ unfamiliarity with and unawareness of this type of services, difficulties in recruiting and retention of numerous, even if remote, multilingual interpreting staff available around the clock, and, not least, the quality of service provided). 

The quality issue in on-demand VRI could be considered at minimum four levels: technological (quality of output sound and picture), substantive (accuracy in source speech content rendition and communication target accomplishment), linguistic and prosodic (appropriate delivery of a message in a target language), and deontological (confidentiality, sometimes anonymity of consumer, and neutrality of interpreter). Most of these parameters aren’t actually specific for VRI but the diversity of situations in which users resort to such service would suggest that their hierarchy could vary depending on more or less formal context of interpreter-mediated communication. Yet, in practice, while dealing with quality assurance the providers rely on two factors: first, rather hypothetical, the professional experience of the interpreters employed, second, the most general users’ satisfactory feedback (“like” or “dislike”).


Video-assisted interpreting
On-demand video remote interpreting
Quality in interpreting


Back to Top




PANEL 04: When Translation Goes Digital: Social, Legal and Economic Issues 

Panel Organizers:
Renée Desjardins (University of Saint-Boniface)
Philippe Lacour (Federal University of Brasilia)
Claire Larsonneur (University Paris 8)

Digital technologies have significantly impacted the translation industry and, by extension, the skillsets and status of the translator and the content that requires translation. Faced with increasing digital innovation, translators must now contend with new ways of thinking about intercultural communication, with specific emphasis given to mobility and accessibility, which may in turn require a paradigm shift (or shifts) within the field.

This panel aims to explore the social, legal and economic issues raised by digital innovation, mobility and data-centrism. For instance we may consider the lack of geographical or chronological constraints in online settings, for-profit and not-for-profit business models, the advent of ‘play labour’ and crowdsourcing, increasingly prevalent peer-to-peer and sharing practices, as well as the risks fostered by data surveillance, hacking and over-sharing. These all have an impact on how the translation market is structured (big agencies versus small players versus rogue agents) and how translation, as a service, is perceived (service industry, public utility, common resource, marketable commodity). Innovation can be disruptive, but this disruption is not necessarily detrimental; information technologies and artificial intelligence can mean both positive and negative changes to the translation ecosystem.

Topics that could be addressed include:

  • E-volution of translated content: from text to posts, streams, threads, timelines, emojis/non-verbal content
  • E-volution of professional practice: transcreation, rewriting, text editing, localisation counselling, gist translation
  • Redefining working protocols: collaborative translation, not-for-profit translations, crowdsourcing, smart swarm, man-machine production
  • Quality assessment: peer review, voting systems, tagging, I.A. and data mining input
  • Intellectual property, copyright, copyleft, creative commons, open access, and other legal considerations
  • Digital visibility and accountability of translators
  • Remuneration models in the digital era: freemium, packages, subscription, ‘like economy’
  • Online and digital settings where translation takes place: platforms, social media, direct access to code

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Renée Desjardins is Assistant Professor at the School of Translation at the University of Saint-Boniface in Winnipeg, Canada. She has worked in the private, public, and freelance sectors as a professional translator and social media specialist. She is the author of Translation and Social Media: In Theory, in Training and in Professional Practice (2017; Palgrave MacMillan). She is also the editor-in-chief of CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures.

Philippe Lacour is Adjunct Professor at the Federal University of Brasilia (Brasil) and Program Director at the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris). He teaches general and theoretical philosophy (theory of knowledge, philosophy of science), with a focus on Human and Social Sciences. His other line of research is the TraduXio project, a digital environment for collaborative and multilingual translation, which he has been developing over the past ten years. Among other publications:

Claire Larsonneur is Senior lecturer in Translation Studies and English Literature at University Paris 8, France (research unit TransCrit EA 1569) and a translator in social sciences. She co-directed the 5-year project “The Digital Subject” (2012-2016). She has published:

  • Le Sujet digital, Presses du Réel, Paris 2015. (co-dir)
  • La Recherche Internet en lettres et langues, Ophrys, Paris, 2008. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 04:

The “Account Linguist”: Disruptive Innovation in Translation Practice?

Maeve Olohan (University of Manchester)


This paper addresses an aspect of evolving professional practice by examining the hybrid role of the account linguist in a leading LSP (language service provider). Typically LSPs employ project managers and translators to perform different professional roles, often expecting them to possess different competences and to exhibit different character traits. In the LSP of this study, however, the hybrid role of the account linguist, as project manager and translator combined, has emerged out of changes in working practices and client requirements, including job management via client portals and rapid turnaround times for translation of strings and short text segments. This paper draws on data from a research project involving workplace observations of account linguists, as well as a study of the recruitment and on-the-job training of new account linguists. It seeks to characterize the role of the account linguist, differentiating it from both translators and project managers, and examining the challenges of recruiting to this role and providing training for it. The paper then considers whether the introduction of this role represents a potentially disruptive innovation in the translation industry, viewed through the lens of Christensen’s disruptive innovation theory (Christensen 1997, Christensen and Raynor 2003) and subsequent critiques and applications in various economic sectors (Danneels 2004, Markides 2005, Yu and Hang 2010, Vecchiato 2017).


Account linguist
Translation project management
LSP business models
Workplace research
Disruptive innovation


Translation Copyright and Reuse in the Machine Learning Era

Joss Moorkens (Dublin City University) and David Lewis (Trinity College Dublin)
Presented by: Joss Moorkens


New use cases are continually being found for automatic translation output, usually trained and tuned using human translations. 

In this presentation, we describe the current legal situation for translators who relinquish rights regarding translation artefacts at the end of a translation project. Translators in some jurisdictions may in fact hold copyright over translations as creators of derivative or adapted work, depending on the perceived originality of the translation and subject to the original author’s rights. There are also rights conferred as creators and maintainers of a database, including TM maintenance work and terminological or quality annotation. Data protection regulations, such as the EU GDPR may confer some additional rights to control the use of personal data, which may cover translator identifying metadata. We suggest some metadata options that could allow translator preferences for future reuse of translations to be respected. 

The challenge for the translators is that in relinquishing copyright they also lose any control over future exploitation of the translation data they have generated. The growing application of machine learning to translation serves to increase opportunities to leverage translators’ output at low cost in a wider range of applications, thereby reducing the scope for collective future earnings of translators. 

A change to the current copyright impasse will require cooperation from translation and client companies, changes and adherence to standards, and engagement from translators. We consider the ethical and legal pressures to make these changes, and their possible ramifications in other industries affected by machine learning.


Translation copyright
Automatic translation
Machine translation
Machine learning
Data protection


Subtitler’s Visibility: A Comparative Study on the Industrial Subtitles and the Fansubs for The Big Bang Theory

Boyi Huang (Hong Kong Baptist University)


Digital technology has considerably changed the landscape of global audiovisual market. The prosperous digitization not only has transformed the mass consumption of audiovisual products, but essentially has revolutionized public audiovisual production. Originally as an institutionally controlled production, audiovisual translation has been largely freed by digital technology. For subtitling in particular, the emerging phenomenon of fansubbing exemplifies how the democratization of digital technology has significantly transformed translation activity in multiple aspects, particularly translator’s visibility; but the topic of visibility has rarely been revisited in a systematic manner. This study aims to examine how the subtitler’s visibility has been changed by the democratizing wave of digital technology. New domains supported by digital technology, such as user-generated content (UGC) and online social media (OSM), can afford translators ‘new visibility’ (Desjardin 2017). But this affordance may have different effects in different translation settings. It is, thus, argued that fansubbers, as demotic subtitlers, and industrial subtitlers may capitalize on digital technology to different extents, managing their visibilities differently. To interrogate their new visibility management, the present study comparatively analyses Warner Bros. industrial subtitlers’ and fansub group YYeTs’s Chinese subtitles for the same audiovisual text of The Big Bang Theory, season nine. Following Brighenti’s (2007) conceptualisation, visibility emerges from social actor’s interactions. Subtitling is arguably subtitler’s most significant and typical social interaction in their name. Through this comparative analysis on fansubber’s and industrial subtitler’s subtitles, how their visibilities are differed from each other in the digital age will be revealed in this study.


Subtitler’s visibility
Industrial subtitling
Comparative study


Hacking the Literary Field: The Revision Process in a Digital Translation Initiative

Maialen Marin-Lacarta (Hong Kong Baptist University) and Mireia Vargas-Urpi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)


Publishing literary translations in digital media has become an evident alternative to print publishing. Technological advances have made publishing translations more accessible, which is why a number of digital initiatives have emerged. This paper is part of a research project that examines the making of digital translations by a Barcelona-based non-profit initiative called ¡Hjckrrh! (pronounced “hacker”). All the participants involved in the publishing process are translators, which means that actors who share the same professional expertise assume different roles. The pilot project documents the Spanish translation and publishing of a collection of three Chinese short stories (Un paraíso sobre el infierno by Liu Na’ou, Mu Shiying and Du Heng); and the main project monitors the making of the Spanish translation of a story by Dorothy Tse (La cabeza). Two types of data have been gathered to analyse both the transformation of the translation and the interactions between the actors: retrospective data (discursive data to analyse the practices themselves based on interviews with the participants and phone calls between the participants) and prospective data (written data related to the management of the translation, such as email and WhatsApp correspondence; written data connected to the translation and its paratext, such as translation drafts, the website, the blog and social media). After discussing the methodology of this project, this paper will specifically address the revision process of translations produced for this publishing initiative. The data that has been gathered will reveal practices of tight collaboration, negotiation of changes, meticulousness and slow revision.


Literary translation
Digital publishing
Translation revision


Communities or Social Networks? Theorizing Translators’ Congregations on the Internet

Chuan Yu (Monash University)


Despite the fact that the number of online translation communities in the digital age has been growing, the question as to how numerous individual translators coalesce into a sustainable whole arises. In this study, I explore how translators’ congregations on the internet can be theorized, focusing on two frequently applied concepts, i.e. ‘community’ and ‘network’. Situated in Yeeyan, a large-scale online translation community that incorporates for-profit and not-for-profit business models, my analysis showcases how the concepts of ‘community’ and ‘network’ are not mutually exclusive; instead, both can be applied to our theorization and understanding of translators’ congregations on the internet. 

Before introducing Yeeyan, I provide an overview of the theoretical possibilities of translation communities. Next, Wenger’s social theory of ‘communities of practice’ (1998) and Wellman’s theorization of ‘computer networks as social networks’ (2001) will be applied to analyse Yeeyan’s participatory mechanisms, primarily drawing on archival data. The analysis demonstrates the existence of a hierarchy within Yeeyan, which is consequently regarded as a large-scale social network constituted of multiple sub-communities of practice. Additionally, the analysis of interview data reveals that participants’ motivations are crucial to the formation of the aforementioned hierarchy. Hence, I argue that a translators’ congregation like Yeeyan is a complex social entity. Whether we call it a community or a network depends on its scale, the nature of the translation projects and participants’ motivations. 


Online translation practices
Social networks


Mapping Translator Blogs: Visibility in the Blogosphere

Julie McDonough Dolmaya (York University)


The past decade has seen an increase in the amount of Translation Studies research focusing on translation in virtual environments, whether this means online fan translation communities (e.g. Perez-Gonzalez 2014), crowdsourced translation initiatives (e.g. McDonough Dolmaya 2012) or translators interacting with one another via social media platforms such as blogs, micro-blogs, online forums and professional networks (cf. Dam 2013, Desjardins 2016, McDonough 2007, McDonough Dolmaya 2011, Risku et al. 2016, Risku and Dickinson 2009). Previous studies have suggested that translators build online communities through their blogs (Dam 2013, 29), but to date, no research has specifically examined how these communities are constructed. We do not know, for instance, how strong the ties between various translator-bloggers are, or what characteristics, if any, the most influential bloggers share. We also do not have much information about the extent to which online blogging communities cross geographic and linguistic borders. To help examine some of these questions, this paper will use Social Network Analysis, and the graph visualization and manipulation program Gephi, to map the relations between a sample set of translation blogs, focusing particularly on comparing the social network maps with blogger profiles to attempt to better understand the characteristics of these virtual translator communities. 


Translation blogs
Social media and translation
Online translator networks
Virtual translator communities


Translating Korean YouTube Channels for the Global Audience

Sung Eun Cho, Minsu Kim and Jungye Suh (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
Presented by: Sung Eun Cho and Jungye Suh


Eighty percent of YouTube views come from non-U.S. nations, and three-quarters of that traffic comes from countries where English is not the primary language (Gutelle, 2014). Korean YouTube channels specializing in K-pop or K-beauty are drawing huge popularity among global viewers. English subtitles are being added to the YouTube contents to make their videos more accessible to a wider audience. 

YouTube has evolved from an amateur user-generated content (UGC) platform to a professional broadcasting channel (Kim 2012). YouTube is considered to be a diverse phenomenon, characterized by being a popular cultural information archive, a social network and an extensive commercial broadcast platform. Popular YouTube content creators with a massive following are partnered with Multi-channel networks (MCNs) to perform business and marketing functions. MCNs have been formed in almost every country in which there are YouTube channels and have grown rapidly since the explosion in numbers of previously amateur creators (Cunningham, Craig & Silver, 2016). These MCNs also control and supervise the translation process to bridge domestic YouTube creators with the global audience. 

This study will examine the translation done on YouTube channels through in-depth interviews with the MCN operators. The study will also show how subtitles on YouTube Creator channels are noticeably different from that on conventional audiovisual materials. The execution of the YouTube contents differs in theme selection, voice, tone, production style, and length. Thus, the translated subtitles must reflect the collective nature of the medium to satisfy the viewing habits of the users. 


Multi-channel Networks
YouTube translation
Audiovisual translation 


Back to Top




PANEL 05: Translation and International Theatre

Panel Organizers:
Geraldine Brodie (University College London)
Beverley Curran (International Christian University, Tokyo)
Marie Nadia Karsky (Université Paris 8)

‘Multilingual performances create communities of understanding and of non-understanding. The experience of non-comprehension can both validate and challenge an audience’s communal sense as cosmopolitan, or as part of the nation.’ (Lindsay 2006: 20 ). Theatre is increasingly intercultural and intermedial, whether performances aimed at multilingual audiences, such as the Singaporean productions described by Jennifer Lindsay; international festivals showcasing theatre companies from a range of cultures and languages, for example, the annual Avignon Festival in France; or travelling productions created by theatre practitioners like the Canadian Robert Lepage who integrates different languages and cultures within one work which is then presented to audiences around the world. Technological advances assist the mobility of international theatre, but is this internationalization at the cost of trivialising and commodifying the cultures that are represented, as Paul Allain and Jen Harvie suggest (2006: 156)?

This panel examines the various ways in which international productions and translation for the theatre – whether translating playscripts, surtitling theatre, or translating elements such as programmes, interpreting for interviews, or adapting other sources for the stage – contribute to perceptions of interculturality. What do the different types of interaction between translation and various forms of theatre and performance reveal about cultural mobility in mono- or multilingual cultures, where diglossia can be part of the picture, and for international audiences? In a world which now seems to be post-global in the sense that nations and nationalism are increasingly reinforcing themselves, what roles can international theatre play in crossing borders and in challenging obstacles to cultural and other types of mobility?
Participants will be invited to present papers along the following lines (not exclusive):

  • Translation and international communication at theatre festivals
  • Translation issues for travelling theatre productions
  • Multilingual performances and productions, past and present
  • Forms and impact of theatre translation in multilingual societies
  • The role played by international institutions in international exchange and in theatre translation (International Theatre Institute for instance, or on a much smaller scale in France, the Maison Antoine Vitez) ; the role of translation in such institutions and networks
  • Adapting other genres for the stage and for other cultures : from novels to manga
  • Mobilizing print media through sonic and somatic performance
  • The impact of context and of cultural mobility on translating and adapting older plays/classical plays/canonical texts
  • Theatre translation and various types of language: verbal, gestural, posture and the body
  • Translating site-specific forms of performance
  • Digital and intermedial developments in translating for the theatre
  • Accessibility and translation in international theatre, including sign language, audio description and surtitling for multilingual audiences

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Geraldine Brodie is a Lecturer in Translation Theory and Theatre Translation at University College London. Her research and publications centre on theatre translation practices in contemporary London, with recent publications in Authorizing Translation, edited by Michelle Woods (Routledge 2016) and a special issue of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, which she also co-edited with Marie Nadia Karsky (May 2016). She is a panel Associate of ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies) and was co-editor of the IATIS journal New Voices in Translation Studies 2012-2015.

Beverley Curran teaches linguistic, cultural, and media translation in the Department of Society, Culture and Media at International Christian University in Tokyo. She is the author of Theatre Translation Theory and Performance in Contemporary Japan (2008; Routledge 2014) and co-edited Multiple Translation Communities in Contemporary Japan (Routledge 2015). She is the current editor of IASIL Japan’s Journal of Irish Studies.

Marie Nadia Karsky teaches English and translation studies in the English Department (DEPA) at Université Paris 8. She works on English translations of Molière’s comedies and on the way translations incorporate the body and its various rhythms (including gestures, movement, voices). She has published on Molière in English and on Shakespeare translated into French, and has recently edited ‘Traduire le rythme’ for the French translation journal Palimpsestes (n° 27, 2014), and co-edited, with Geraldine Brodie, an issue of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance on the theatre of Martin Crimp (2016). 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 05:

Can World Literature Help Theorize Translation and International Theatre?

Nicole Nolette (University of Waterloo)


Recently (2015-2017), translation scholars Susan Bassnett, Paul Bandia, Gisèle Shapiro and Reyne Meylaerts have started discussions with theorists and students of the Institute of World Literature, based at Harvard University, to find points of convergence between the two fields. In David Damrosch’s (2003) What is World Literature, for example, translation figures as one of the main modes by which literature becomes worldly. For Rebecca Malkowitz (2017), world literature is “born translated.” My proposed paper looks at whether this juncture could be useful in theorizing the relationship between translation and international theatre. Is the “international” of “international theatre” worldly, global, post-global? How is translation positioned in theatre festival circuits as opposed to the circulation of book objects? How might world literature theories might help conceptualize the role of translation in “world theatre,” “welttheater” (Beniston 1998, Huang 2014) or the “sociologie du champ théâtral international” (Schryburt 2014). Organized in three parts, this paper provides first an overview of recent convergences between translation studies and world literature, then a survey of how international theatre has been thought (with or without translation), before pointing to several ways in which we can together theorize translation and international/world theatre.


World literature
International theatre


Nationalism, Translation, and Theatre: The Rising of the Moon and The Gaol Gate

Sung Hee Choi (Korea University)


This study draws on postcolonial theory to explore how a translator’s nationalism is embedded in the Korean translations of two Irish plays, The Rising of the Moon and The Gaol Gate, which were performed in Korea under the Japanese occupation (1910-1945). Both plays were written by Lady Augusta Gregory, founder of the Irish Literary Theatre. They were translated into Korean by Jeong-Woo Choi and performed by Korea Theatre Arts Research Association (KARA). It aimed to reform Korean society through plays and conveyed Korean nationalistic consciousness to the audience. Choi, a member of KARA, translated Lady Gregory’s political plays for their embodiment of Irish nationalism. He wished that Koreans would adopt a similar nationalistic consciousness by watching Lady Gregory’s plays. 

This study reveals that nationalism, indirectly implied in the ST, is accentuated in the TT, and new nationalistic narratives appear in the TT. The translator changes the narratives of The Rising of the Moon into a political struggle between a Korean independence activist and a Japanese policeman. The translator also accentuates the Korean independence activist’s words resisting Japanese colonialism. 

Similarly, the translator changes the narrative of The Gaol Gate into that of a Korean independence activist fighting Japanese oppression. The TT accentuates not only his anticolonial activities but his mother’s critical attitude towards Japanese oppression. The translator evokes empathy in the audience by accentuating the protagonists’ troubles. 

This study thus finds that the translator’s nationalism influenced his TT. Through his translations, Choi resisted Japanese occupation of Korea. 


The Rising of the Moon
The Gaol Gate


Sora no Ito: Manga Performances

Beverley Curran (International Christian University)


Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture is one of four major sites of industrial pollution in Japan. When the Yokkaichi petrochemical complex opened in 1960 it was the largest petrochemical plant in the Asia respiratory diseases due to sulphur oxides released into the atmosphere, and classrooms could not have open windows because of the odour. Manga artist Yada Eriko grew up in Yokkaichi and through most of her life considered the petrochemical complex she saw every day as just part of the landscape and the pollution it had caused, which she had studied about at school, as a thing of the past. However, when she met people whose lives continued to be affected by the pollution, she decided to create Sora no Ito (2016) about Naoko, a nine-year-old with acute asthma and the effects of the environmental pollution on her body. This presentation discusses a performance project based on Yada’s manga that translated the manga into powerful and diverse performances in order to engage with the work and as a way of circulating a local site-specific story of Yokkaichi environmental pollution through media translation and the materiality of pollution through the materiality of the body. In the process, it considers the circulation of knowledge concerning Yokkaichi environmental pollution as it appears in the ephemera of protest and performance. In doing so, it shows how ephemera can support other struggles and create dynamic sites of translation, where knots of social unease can continue to be scrutinized across a range of media and performance.


Manga translation
Theatre translation
Interlingual and media translation
The circulation of local knowledge in translation



Devising Intermedial Translation for International Theatre Audiences

Geraldine Brodie (University College London)


The increase in number, size and popularity of theatre festivals has led to a corresponding growth in the development of productions created in anticipation of touring to international venues and audiences. Simultaneously, contemporary concepts of performance modes employ a range of intermedial and devising techniques to explore innovative and reimagined dramatic forms. This paper examines the approaches of specialist transnational theatre-makers to the opportunities and challenges of connecting with international audiences by incorporating translation and multilingualism into their productions. 

The paper compares two such theatre-makers. Robert Lepage, a francophone Canadian, writes, designs, directs and performs in the productions he devises for his company Ex Machina, incorporating multilingualism (French and English, but also Chinese in The Dragon Trilogy and The Blue Dragon) into the fabric of the work. Ivo van Hove, Belgian artistic director of Dutch company Toneelgroep Amsterdam, is known for the extremity of his adaptational approach to classic theatrical and cinematic performance texts, presenting internationally recognised work, such as Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III (amalgamated into a four-and-a half-hour production as Kings of War) and Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage (a reworking of the television series and film), performed in Dutch translation in Amsterdam and around the world. 

Both artists employ intermedial techniques to convey the transformative approaches of their productions alongside translated surtitles for international audiences. My paper interrogates the multilayering of language and translation in their productions, contrasting Lepage’s original devised work and van Hove’s classical adaptations, and examining their significance for translation. 


Devised theatre
Intermedial translation
Multilingual theatre
Ivo van Hove
Robert Lepage


Borderline Drama: Translating for Those Who Don’t Need It… Really (?)

Marc Charron and Véronique Lessard (University of Ottawa)


This presentation stems in good part from the translation project of a slam poetry play by a collective of young writers called Poids Plumes, based in Canada’s Capital region, which is comprised of the cities of (mostly Anglophone) Ottawa and (mostly Francophone) Gatineau. The English version, i.e. surtitles projected onscreen during the French production of the play, was undertaken in the context of a graduate adaptation seminar in the Winter 2017 semester at the University of Ottawa’s School of Translation and Interpretation. 

The 8000-word-plus original is an intriguing case of “border writing,” an extreme example of sorts of the expression coined by Chicano/a Studies scholar Emily Hicks in 1991. It is a text that focuses on the coming-of-age experiences of young adults who live on the Quebec-Ontario border, who often express themselves in English-tainted French, and who recount their stories of distorted love, strange sexual encounters, and quirky social exchanges on both sides of the Ottawa River. 

Given the intricacy of the border phenomena here, it would only be wise to revisit questions posed more than a decade ago by Reine Meylaerts: “What happens when translations take place among communities that share geographical and cultural references? How do the competition and animosities that inevitably flourish in multilingual geopolitical contexts shape translation?” (qtd. in Simon 2013: 183). But, especially, to ask: “What happens when the (mostly bilingual) target audience shares these references to the point of not needing the translation really, yet whose border politics seem to call for it nonetheless?” 


Theatre translation
Border writing


The Role of Translation as Intercommunal Mediation: The Case of Missing in Cyprus

Vasso Giannakopoulou (University of Cyprus)


This presentation will discuss the role played by theatre and more particularly its translation in the multicultural context of contemporary divided Nicosia based on the case of Missing, a play originally written in Turkish by playwright Aliye Ummanel and translated into Greek via an intermediate English rendering in order to be staged on both sides of Nicosia. The play debates the trauma of a family whose father has been considered missing for decades, set against the backdrop of a modern staging of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Missing deliberately made no mention of names or national identities so that people from both sides might relate. Despite the fact that the project was “set up outside the mainstream institutions of society, with agendas that explicitly challenge the dominant narratives of the time” (Baker 2006: 462), it struck a chord with people from both communities wishing to find closure and move on without forgetting, but within peaceful coexistence. It is not coincidental that the play was staged in packed theatres on both the Northern part of Nicosia in Turkish and the Southern part of the city in Turkish with Greek and English surtitles in 2015 and in Greek in 2017. This project could not have taken place without the mediation of translation, which in this case was not only cultural, but also intercommunal. The presentation will discuss the act of translation as a performative process, “a process that on the basis of social action constitutes meaning, transcends borders and creates representation” (Wolf 32).


Collaborative translation
Bicommunal theatre
Narrative theory
Translation as performance


Theater Translation Ecology. Actors, Location, and Relations in Multilingual San Francisco Bay Area

Celia Bense Ferreira Alves (Université de Vincennes à Saint-Denis)


Subject matter

In terms of language diversity —the number of languages spoken at home by people over 5 years old— The San Francisco Bay Area region comes fifth after Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Chicago (US English Foundation, 2005 and Statisticalatlas, 2016). In terms of drama production, and with almost 400 theater houses and 375 theater companies, it is considered the third theater center in the United States (TBA 2016). This presentation questions theater as an activity in a multilingual environment through the play and show production processes at work and investigates how this affects the development of theatrical organizations and of the local theater world.


The results presented here were obtained through the ethnographic study of the theater world in the San Francisco Bay Area. The data was collected by means of interviews of theater participants and observations of theater work situations by sociologist Howard S. Becker between 1985 and 1989 and by myself between 2009 and 2012. Documents produced by theatrical organizations and institutions were used to cross data (programs, websites, etc.) and investigate past situations.

Main results

This presentation identifies the nature and parts played by translation and translators in the construction and development of the San Francisco Bay Area theater world in the last thirty years. It points to the new role of theater translation in widening audiences for ethnic-based theatrical organizations and the long-standing but limited role of aesthetics-building for non-ethnic based theatrical organizations to achieve viable positions within the local community.


Multilingual environment


Bilingual Theatre in English and British Sign Language: Creating an Inter-Cultural Community of Understanding for Deaf and Hearing Audiences?

Michael Richardson (Heriot-Watt University)


Deaf people exhibit biculturality, presenting their own distinct identity and language, whilst being acculturated to, if not integrated into, wider hearing society. This dichotomy is reflected in theatre practice: Deaf communities have strong, thriving traditions of performance; but by wider society they are encouraged to attend hearing (spoken language) theatre, translated into sign language at interpreted performances. 

This paper presents results from two studies. In the first, the effectiveness (and accessibility) of sign language interpreted performances was tested using Deaf and hearing audience focus groups. Subsequently, a group of Deaf and hearing actors worked together to create bilingual theatrical material in British Sign Language and English, aiming to provide equal access to Deaf and hearing audiences. The resulting short pieces were tested, again using Deaf and hearing audience focus groups. 

The results of these studies suggest that existing approaches to theatre translation are inadequate for creating an inter-cultural community of understanding. The typical word-for-word approach used in interpreted performances compromises the rendition of theatrical texts: Deaf people are required to construct meaning from visual information presented by actors and interpreter simultaneously, but in different spaces. Furthermore, to produce genuinely inter-cultural performances from pre-existing plays, the visual-orientation of Deaf people suggests that the reliance on literal translations of pre-existing dialogue, even when performed by Deaf actors, should be minimised. More useful might be radical sense-for-sense translation techniques in which linear narrative is translated into semiotically rich two- and three-dimensional visualisations that can effectively map directly on to visual and gestural performance. 


Bilingual theatre
Sign language
Theatre translation


Performative Rewritings: Foreign Language Performance as Translation

Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University)


Foreign language performances, especially of classical and indigenous stories, have been an important form of intercultural contact throughout the centuries (Knowles, 2009). The discourse of authenticity that surrounds these experiences, and is built around an illusion of universality, generally negates translation, suggesting that historically codified forms are equally accessible across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Analyses of surtitles, especially in opera (Weaver, 2010) and multilingual theatre (Ladoceur, 2013) have challenged those assumptions by shedding light on the multiple forms of mediation involved in translating foreign language productions. 

This paper takes that challenge further, by considering the cultural and ideological dimensions of foreign language performances. Bringing together theories of dramatic performativity (Worthen, 2006) with cultural models of translation (Lefevere, 2016; Bassnett and Lefevere, 1998), I argue that foreign performances are translations in that they re-frame texts for different audiences in the service of power as exercised by different agencies and forms of patronage. By looking at four Italian language productions of the Piccolo Teatro di Milano’s Arlecchino in Britain (1956; 1958, 1959, 1967), I explore how discourses of identity and otherness, similarity and difference are constructed and transformed in the reception of each production by the material contexts of performance (e.g. funding, space architecture, programing and the discourse of reviews). My analysis suggests that foreign language performance provides fertile ground to rethink Lefevere’s influential notion of ‘rewriting’ (Lefevere, 2016) to take into account the performative dimension of culture and help us see translation as a productive rather than a primarily re-productive practice. 


Foreign language performance


Cross-Cultural Theatrical Collaboration in China: Thirty Years, One City and Three Plays

Yichen Yang (Shanghai International Studies University)


Cross-cultural theatrical collaboration is a complex and problematic process. Obstacles and paradoxes can be found in every step along the way: the search for the ideal collaborator, the communication of the intended meaning cross-lingually and cross-culturally, the materialisation of the collaborators’ intentions and so on. This case study looks at three Beijing productions of translated plays--Measure for Measure (1981), A Doll’s House (1998) and Hamlet (2008)--which spanned over the first thirty years after China’s opening-up, a period that witnessed the thrive of translation theatre during the ‘Culture Fever’ of the 80s, the official-led resistance to it in the 90s and its later comeback. In each case, a foreign director/actor was invited by a well-known local theatre group. The study will explore against the changing socio-political backdrop the driving forces behind each collaboration, the power dynamics between the local contributors and the guest director/actor and the language issues involved in the creative process. Focusing on the problems, both practical and ideological, that were faced by the production teams, the study finds that the inclusion of the foreign contributors in all the cases was driven by a shared desire to create some sense of ‘authenticity’ on the stage. Such pursuit, variously motivated and depending on the given situations, led to vastly different forms of expressions and the particular way each foreign contributor was engaged in the collaborative process.


Cross-cultural theatre
Theatre translation


Molière on the British Stage: Translating the Cultural Paradoxes of Humour and Style

Marie Nadia Karsky (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis)


Theatre, as director Simon Stone points out, is a paradoxical place where history and the present can be connected through the gaze of the audience, where the tension between past and present notions both exists and is transcended in a play’s staging and performance. When playtexts belong to another linguistic culture, the distance but also the similarities are partly conveyed through linguistic translation, whether in the use of surtitles or a translated version of the text. In Britain and Ireland, the 20th and early 21st centuries have witnessed a particular interest for the plays of Molière; staging his plays even contributed to serving linguistic and identity purposes in Ireland and in Scotland. Conversely, after having put on several adaptations of Molière during the Restoration and in the 18th century, England seems to have neglected the French playwright until the 1970s, when poet Tony Harrison adapted The Misanthrope. Since then, there has been quite a surge in both adaptations and in stage-oriented translations of Molière by English poets and playwrights alike (Martin Crimp, Roger McGough, Ranjit Bolt …), as if each felt the need to confront the cultural, stylistic and thematic challenges raised by Molière’s comedies. How are Molière’s humour and the stylistic elegance of his prose and verse rendered? What becomes of the tension between past and present in the new versions and in some of their stagings? More generally, what has confronting Molière on the page and for the stage brought his translators and adaptors?


Translation and adaptation
Conceptual distances and similarities
Rhythm and verse in the theatre


Recent French Multilingual Shakespeare Productions: Trivia or Transcultural Mobility?

Stephanie Mercier (University of Helsinki)


There has been a recent plethora of French translation and performance of Shakespeare in France to celebrate the 450th anniversary of his birth (2014) and then the 400th anniversary of his death (2016). The productions provide a rich study sample with which to examine instances of diglossia and non verbal translation of the canonical texts such as props, costume, gesture, posture and the body. The main argument of this paper is that we can learn something about French theatre and its cultural accessibility and mobility through the choice – or the choice not to – incorporate English or Anglo-Saxon contextual elements in French productions of Shakespeare. To do so the research questions are as follows: Have recent multilingual performances created or separated communities within audiences? Does the inclusion of English into French productions of Shakespeare trivialise or transcend the traditional understanding of the Bard and the capacity that his plays have to challenge obstacles to cultural differences? When verbal or non-verbal multilingualism is not an issue in a French Shakespeare production does this mean that, as Annie Brisset notes, “Translation becomes an act of reclaiming, recentering of the identity, a re-territorializing operation”? This paper thus explores the role that a four-hundred year old English playwright can play in crossing borders and building bridges on an arguably increasingly post-global European continent.




Stages of Shakespeare in India: Habib Tanvir’s Celebration of the Subaltern in Kamdev Ka Apna, Basant Ritu Ka Sapna

Anita Singh (Banaras Hindu University)


The first section of the paper will situate the performances/translations of Shakespeare’s plays in the historical context. Initially, it will see how colonial powers operated via the legitimation of Shakespeare. Next the strategic appropriation of Shakespeare in the context of colonial censorship will be examined and finally, the new-fangled mutations of Shakespeare’s plays will be read. It will see what happens when Shakespeare is repositioned during an intercultural performance in the grammar and vocabulary of traditional art forms. 

The second section of the paper will discuss the translation of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Habib Tanvir’s Kamdev Ka Apna, Basant Ritu Ka Sapna (Cupid’s Own, A Springtime Dream; translated by Habib Tanvir, First edition, 2001). It was first performed in 1993. With simple props, dhotis in taant clothes, tribal headgears and Gond tribal artists from Bastar included as actors enthused the performance of the play with lively rustic buoyancy. It takes us to the world where ‘shayari’ and songs come as enhancement and the raasas all complete and compliment a play which became the articulations of Tanvir’s own unique theater idiom. 




Speakability in Contemporary Japanese Shakespeare Translation

Daniel Gallimore (Kwansei Gakuin University)


Matthew Reynolds writes that ‘Relevance and speakability are not the only routes to success in theatre translation. The choreography of actors’ bodies and voices is tremendously important: language collaborates with expressive movement and sound.’ (2016: 115) The relevance of contemporary Japanese Shakespeare translations is arguably most apparent in their suitability to the voices of the actors who speak them, which is also their speakability. For Matsuoka Kazuko (1998: 200), the particular challenge of Shakespeare translation is that of combining the semantic, metaphorical and prosodic strands of the source text in an act of directional equivalence. Yet, as Matsuoka is surely aware, while this approach certainly yields powerful insights it also risks reducing Shakespeare translation to a disconnected series of symbolic moments rather than seeing speakability for what it is: a continuous trajectory of narrative and rhetorical gestures that run across the text. A speakable translation enables actors to connect what has come before with what is to come after, and is often for that reason an actorly one as well. In my paper, I propose to look at how the speakability of translation might be seen ‘to collaborate’ with ‘actors’ ‘bodies and voices’’ by correlating two contemporary translations, namely Matsuoka’s of Julius Caesar (2014) and Odashima Yūshi’s of Timon of Athens (1980), with an analysis of two recent productions of these translations directed (respectively) by Ninagawa Yukio (2014) and Shakespeare Theatre’s Deguchi Norio (1997).


Shakespeare translation
Rhetorical analysis


Translator as the Gardener: Employing Organic Metaphor in the Theatre Adaptations of Brecht by Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay

Rindon Kundu (Jadavpur University)


Darwin in his Origin of Species (1859) first infused an organic sense into the term ‘adaptation’ as “modification of a thing to suit new conditions”. With this understanding, the proposed paper will turn towards the Bengali/Sanskrit word “rupantar” - often used synonymously with the word “adaptation”. Shifting focus from the popular meaning of the term as ‘change in form/beauty’ (Trivedi, 2014; Tymoczko, 2006), examining 19thC Bengali lexicons, the discussion will engage with the evolution and interrelationship of a few other key terms like ropa (act of raising) and ropona (planting of trees) with the term rupantar. This has its echo in Shelley’s (1820) metaphor of ‘transplanting the seeds’ to denote the process of naturalization also resonated by Hardwick (2000) and Bassnett (1998). 

The paper will attempt to see the translator/adapter as a ropaka/planter and explore the process of acculturation through close analysis of different layers of botanical metaphor in the light of ‘eco-translatology’. Illustrating concepts from ‘eco-linguistics’, I will try to formulate an eco-translatological approach in the context of theatre adaptations on Bengali stage during post-independence Bengali Progressive Theatre Movement of the 1950s – 1980s by analyzing two major Brecht adaptations i.e., The Three penny Opera/Teen Poisar Pala (1969) and The Good Person of Szechwan/Bhalomanush (1974) by Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay whose basic philosophy behind theatre translation was to make the aesthetic sensibilities of the foreign accessible to native people through the native language and described the process as ‘plucking a plant from one soil and planting it into a different soil’. 




Back to Top




PANEL 06: Museum Translation: Encounters across Space and Time

Panel Organizers:
Min-Hsiu Liao (Heriot-Watt University)
Sharon Deane-Cox (University of Strathclyde)

The panel will address the conference theme “translation and cultural mobility” in the specific context of museums. Museums are important sites of intercultural encounter, bringing visitors into contact with the tangible and intangible traces of other peoples, spaces and times. That encounter is frequently mediated through translation: many museums now provide international visitors with bilingual or multilingual texts in various modes, such as labels, text panels, leaflets, websites, audio guides, videos, interactive panels, tour guides. In multilingual societies, museums are often required by law to provide translation services. It follows that translation has the capacity to shape how the visitor understands and responds to the objects, images, sounds and memories that have been incorporated into a given collection or exhibition. Of particular interest are the various ways in which the translation of museum narratives re-mediates identities, voices, ideologies and pedagogies.

Taking its lead from the pioneering work of Kate Sturge (2007) and Robert Neather (2008), this panel aims to encourage and expand critical discussion on the important role played by translations in museums, not least since research on this topic remains relatively scant. This panel recognizes museum translation as an interdisciplinary research topic that can draw theoretical frameworks and methodological models from a range of academic fields, e.g. translation studies, museum studies, tourism studies, memory studies. Furthermore, museums as multimodal sites provide translation researchers with a rich source of data to examine how different modes of texts interact and communicate. This panel ultimately seeks to open up a collaborative and supportive space for researchers whose interests coincide with the topic, and in so doing, further our understanding of how translation mobilizes and directs cultural, cognitive, commemorative etc. encounters in the museum.
Contributors may address any aspects of museum translation. Below is a list of suggested questions:

  • How are individual, regional and national identities translated in museums?
  • How does translation transmit individual and collective memories in the museum?
  • What role does translation play in a museum’s narration of war, genocide and other traumatic experiences?
  • How do translations help museum visitors learn about other cultures?
  • How do translations negotiate different language communities in museums that are situated in multilingual societies?
  • How do translations mediate intersemiotic encounters in the multimodal space of museums?
  • How do visitors use translations in the museum?
  • How do museums decide on and implement translation policies?
  • Which theories and methodologies are helpful for the exploration of museum translation?

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Min-Hsiu Liao is Lecturer of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University. Her recent research projects explored various aspects of museum translations, including how museum texts interact with visitors, how national identities are embedded in museum texts, and how narratives of trauma travel through time in memorial museums. Her articles on the topic of museum translation have been published in a range of interdisciplinary journals, including Translation Spaces, Museum and Society, Tourism Management, and East Asian Journal of Popular Culture.

Sharon Deane-Cox joined the University of Strathclyde as a Lecturer in Translation and Interpreting in October 2016, having previously held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship and various teaching fellowships at University of Edinburgh. Her research is anchored in the field of Translation Studies, but also intersects with a wide array of other disciplines, including Memory Studies, Holocaust Studies, Museum Studies, linguistics, and sociology. She is particularly interested in the translation of French individual and collective memories of occupation and deportation during WWII. She is author of the monograph Retranslation: Translation, Literature and Reinterpretation (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) and a member of the IATIS Regional Workshop Committee. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 06:

Translating Multimodal Museum Space

Min-Hsiu Liao (Heriot-Watt University)


The topic of multimodality has received considerable critical attention in Translation Studies over the last decades. Contribution of these studies has significantly added to our understanding of how translations interact with other semiotic modes. However, little is known about how translations interact with or within three-dimensional material space. In this study, I attempt to explore this new territory by examining written translations in a museum site, as museums have often been chosen as the data for the exploration of three-dimensional space (e.g. Pang 2004; Ravelli and McMurtrie 2015). The analytical model of this study is informed by the “systemic functional framework for museum exhibitions” developed in Pang (2004). This framework divided exhibition space into four ranks: a museum (as a site), a gallery (as an exhibition space), an area (as a particular exhibition room), and an item (as a particular displayed unit). To illustrate how this model can be extended to include translated texts in museums, a case study was carried out with the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow. Wall panels and welcome leaflets were collected for the purpose of textual analysis. Features of the external and the internal structures of the buildings were recorded during the field trips. In the analysis of the source and the translated spatial texts, competing discourses between a traditional Christian identity and a promoted multi-faith identity in Glasgow can be observed. This paper endeavors to add a new dimension to the existing multimodal translation studies.


Museum translation


Translation Scope in the Museum

Cathy Sell (Monash University)


As multimodal spatial environments, museums create meaning intertextually across a system of texts, and throughout a spatially constructed narrative that is actively negotiated by the visitor as they engage with individual texts and exhibits. This complex communicative system presents issues in translation. In particular, it is challenging for museums to provide a full translation of the multimodal system of texts in their given target language(s) and thus in order to address spatial/aesthetic restrictions and resource constraints museums frequently limit translations to a partial scope, where only certain content and/or text varieties are translated. Partial translation scope extends beyond the exhibition medium, to the supporting variety of promotional and guidance texts, and the supplementary array of museum publications, incorporating the full spectrum of the museum-visitor relationship from pre- to post-visit. Partial translation scope exacerbates multimodal issues, which can significantly affect the visitor experience for target language users and the communicative function of the museum, particularly in the case of multiple target languages which are provided in differing scope. 

This paper presents examination of data collected from exhibitions that employ partial translation scope(s) in Japanese museums. The study applies Linguistic Landscape multilingual analysis and Systemic Functional Linguistics multimodal analysis to examine relative prominence of languages and differing translation scopes in consideration of institutional priorities, exhibition levels and metafunctions, and modes of dissemination. The discussion highlights the limitations and possibilities of translation scope within the multimodal Linguistic Landscape of the museum.


Japanese Museums
Linguistic Landscapes
Systemic Functional Linguistics
Translation scope


Interpreting in Museum Theatres: A Multimodal Perspective

Jiqing Dong (University of Leicester)


Despite a recent surge of interest in multimodal approach (Kress and Van Leeuwen 1996, 2001) to theorising the verbal and non-verbal meaning-making processes in translation and interpreting activities, museum theatric interpreting remains a largely unexplored sphere in Translation Studies. Limited attention has been given to the live shows and presentational events that take place in multilingual museums, where on-stage interpreters often play a visible role in transferring the extra-linguistic signs through performance. This article presents a case study on an interpreter-mediated manufacturing demonstrative show in a science museum theatre in the U.S., illustrating how the interpreter maneuvers the toolkit of semiotic resources (van Leeuwen 2005), including what Poyatos (1997) described as the para-verbal signs such as voice qualities, cadence, inflection and speech flow and the non-verbal signifiers such as gestures and movements. It focuses on the ways in which the verbal and non-verbal modes interact and create a new text that allows the social and educational functions of museums to be fulfilled through interpreting. The data consists of a full transcription of the 30-minute video recording of the entire show, where interpreting is performed in a consecutive mode from English to Mandarin. Such a qualitative study also aims to understand interpreters’ scope of involvement in the staging of shows and their capacity to engage in cultural negotiations.


Museum translation
Interpreted performance
Theatrical interpreting


Translating the City as a Museum: Translation and Multi-sensory Integrated Memory (Beichuan, China)

Ke Deng and Lili Xiu (Southwest University of Science and Technology)


This paper is a case study of Beichuan, a county developed as a mega museum as a whole. The county is an important inhabited area of the Qiang People in Sichuan and one of the worst quake-stricken areas in the 5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake of 2008. It is, accordingly, a region perplexed with the ethnic memory of the Qiang People as well as the trauma of the devastating earthquake. After the post-quake reconstruction, important sites in this mega museum are multilingually translated and visualized with multimedia installation. Through a series of field studies of Beichuan 5.12 Earthquake Memorial and Beichuan Folklore Museum, this paper finds that the translation of these museums is never merely a textual business. Museums translation, here, develops an ethnic and traumatic narrative, provoking visitors sympathy and/or identification. It could be seen as one of the main channels of cultural transmission as well as an indication of how a community remembers and evaluates itself. Though the interpretation of exhibits is traditionally in the form of text, modern museums are never retarded in the employment of pictures, sounds, videos, objects and even ruins. Visitors could thus experience museums through varied sensory channels. Integrated with relevant texts, these multi-sensory channels help to make a concrete reproduction of the past narrative out of abstract imagination, more specifically to translate past memory or trauma through an integrated multi-sensory channel. Hence, translating modern museums requires a transmutation or cooperation between textual, visual, audio, and other sensory channels.


Museum translation
Multi-sensory channels
Integrated memory


Translation and Narrative Engagement for Affective Experiences in the ‘Comfort Women’ Memorial Museum in Korea

Kyunghye Kim (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)


Museums are “not neutral” but are “important collections of ideological symbols” that “perform a special role in communicating and legitimizing predominant social relations and ideological views that reinforce those relations in society” (Coffee 2006: 435). However, as Watson (2015) argues, in museum studies, rationalism and objectivity have been prioritised over visitors’ personal emotional feelings and experiences. Similarly in the field of translation studies, with few exceptions (Chen & Liao, 2017; Valdeón, 2015), the role of ideologically motivated narratives in museums has largely been ignored although they play an important role in visitors’ meaning-making process, (re)production of meaning, and interpretative affective engagements. 

‘War and Women’s Human Rights Museum’ in Seoul, one of the four memorial museums in Korea built to remember the ‘comfort women’, deserves special attention. The museum was built in 2012, through private funding contributions by citizens over ten years, and is dedicated to the history of those women forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during the WWII. Featuring collective memories and individual stories of trauma, this museum serves as a site for visitors to experience the history and generate emotional responses. However, the role of translations used in the museum for non-Korean visitors, who have different mindsets and cultural backgrounds, has never been examined to date. Therefore, drawing on narrative theory and using the concept of affect, triangulated with questionnaire surveys, this study examines the extent to which English translations are used to recreate the same emotional repertoire of the Korean source texts for non-Koreans.


Comfort women
Affect theory


Encountering Difficult Pasts: Translation, Mediation and Visitor Experience in the Memorial Museum Space

Sharon Deane-Cox (University of Strathclyde)


This paper aims to highlight and explore issues regarding the role of translation in the museum that remembers difficult pasts. Visitors often come to a site of memory with no means of accessing the voices spoken, stories told and perspectives proffered in the original working language of the museum. The provision of translated material facilitates that access, but it also sets in motion multifaceted negotiations across boundaries of language, culture and knowledge. According to Erll and Rigney, ‘“media” of all sorts […] provide frameworks for shaping both experience and memory” (2009: 1); the translation of that media then adds a further layer of complexity in terms of how the visitor encounters the legacies of a dark period in time. Multimodal exhibition ‘texts’ and translation might work together to sustain nuances, uphold multiple layers of opposing, parallel or intersecting narratives and encourage a dynamic response from the visitor. But those texts and translation each have the potential to close down spaces of understanding and engagement, and thus impede memory work. 

In order to better elucidate the dynamics of such encounters, examples will be drawn from a range of case studies on French WWII museums. Focus will primarily be on translated audioguides and their capacity to generate ‘prosthetic memory’ (Landsberg 2004) which can bring the visitor closer to the past. In short, this paper argues that it is prudent to think through the implications of translation in the museum, not least in terms of visitor experience and the construction of ethical responses. 


Museum translation
Prosthetic memory


A Vehicle of Cultural Transmission: Translation of Wall Panels in Chinese Museums

Hui Li (University of Strathclyde)


The paper showcases how Chinese national and cultural identities are represented in the translations of wall panels in Chinese museums through the discursive analysis of the translations of wall panels in eight museums in Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou, and Jingzhou. Discussions focus on the impact of ideology shift from Mao’s totalistic iconoclasm as a striking feature of 20th-century Chinese cultural policy to Deng’s promotion of traditional Chinese culture via tourism as an effective vehicle for nation-building (home) and to facilitate cultural transmission (overseas). 

The place of culture and traditions of heritage tourism and pilgrim has always been a unifying theme in Chinese tourism. The ultimate goal of domestic tourism (the original) is to enhance national unity and to consolidate the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, while the main purpose of the translation is to facilitate Chinese culture transmission to meet the requirements of its increased economic and political status worldwide. Apart from the constraints of space, distinct genre conventions, and varying communicative situations, the discrepancy in the functions between the original and the translation requires the dosification of information in the translation to avoid communicative breakdown and to reinforce cultural transmission. 

Inconsistency in the translation approaches is found in terms of styles, vocabulary use, and the treatment of cultural specific items, which reveals various challenges posed by the politicization of the tourism industry, and raises the question of how best to resolve the difference between producing effective tourist guides and promoting sustainable national and cultural values. 


Cultural transmission
Heritage tourism
Discourse analysis
Cultural specific items


Translating Contemporary Art: The Case of Exhibition Catalogue Essays

Monika Krein-Kuehle (Technische Hochschule Koeln)


Over the last decade, museum translation has become an object of translational research (e.g. Neather 2008/2012, Sturge 2007), but there is a paucity of detailed investigations into the multi-facetted modes of art discourse in general and into the exhibition catalogue, in particular. This highly complex, hybrid, multimodal and ekphrastic genre has not so far attracted much research in the translation arena, although this genre is highly relevant from an applied point of view. 

This paper, therefore, will present the results of research into the contextual and textual aspects and constraints involved in the translation of exhibition catalogues containing essays on contemporary art and published in connection with exhibitions of works of internationally renowned or upcoming artists in museums and galleries in the German-speaking countries. It will investigate the conditions surrounding art translation on the basis of questionnaires and individual interviews with art translators and museum/gallery staff and will explore the potentially ideological implications of the fact that English has become the lingua franca of the international art sphere. On an essay corpus-in-context basis it will also discuss specific textual features and relevant trends in translation solutions. The research carried out so far suggests that the translation of art discourse exists in a ‘parallel world’ that is more or less uninfluenced by translation studies, yet certainly constitutes a market with a considerable need for high-quality work. Thus, this interdisciplinary field deserves further translation-geared research, didactization and inclusion into syllabus modules. 


Contemporary Art
Exhibition Catalogue Essays



Back to Top




PANEL 07: Crisis Communication and Translation

Panel Organizers:
Federico M. Federici (University College London)
Sharon O’Brien (Dublin City University)

Any crisis establishes a distinctive relationship of power between those in need of assistance and those who can provide aid, support, and medical assistance immediately and efficiently. In the context of international crises (defined in terms of cascading crises, where human-induced or natural hazards develop into major disasters that have significant impact on the society), the power of language becomes extremely significant yet the role of language mediators remains vaguely defined and understudied. Coordination in relief and humanitarian operations depends on efficient and prompt communication, the lack of which is recognized as the most common obstacle to coordinating efforts and resources in responding to emergencies by the international community (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative 2011) and in ground-breaking scholarship focusing on interpreting (Moser-Mercer and Bali 2007; Moser-Mercer et al. 2014; Tipton 2011) and translation (Federici 2016; Cadwell and O’Brien 2016; O’Brien 2016).

Contributions to this panel might address the following themes:

  • Crisis communication: the position of translation and interpreting
  • Language policies in response to crises in multilingual scenarios
  • Professional translators and non-professional translators in crises
  • Technological aids supporting crisis communication for interpreters and for translators
  • Translation and translator training for crisis response
  • Accessing reliable health-related content from a multiplicity of languages in crises
  • Multilingual communication as part of resilience, response and preparedness

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Federico Federici is Reader in Translation Studies at University College London, UK. Previously, he founded and directed the EMT MA in Translation Studies at Durham University, UK (2008-2014), where he also founded and directed the Centre for Intercultural Mediation. He served as member of the Board of the European Master’s in Translation Network (2011-2014). His research focuses on translators and interpreters as intercultural mediators, on translators working in crises, and on reception of translated texts (as in his edited volume Mediating Emergencies and Conflicts 2016). He is involved in projects focusing on translators working in crises. From 2005 he has organised the ‘Translating Voices’ conference series, which focuses on the topics of minority and regional languages, with particular focus on risks, disasters and regional crises.

Sharon O'Brien is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies Translation Studies at Dublin City University. Her research to date has focused on the interaction between translators and technology (including Translation Memory and Machine Translation), cognitive aspects of translation, research methods, including eye tracking and keyboard logging, localisation and content authoring. She was Director of the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies ( from 2013-2017 and a funded investigator in the cross-institutional research centre Adapt ( More recently, she has worked on the topic of translation in crisis scenarios (O’Brien 2016; Cadwell & O’Brien 2016). She is coordinator of the EU-funded project Interact – International Network on Crisis Translation


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 07:

Crisis Translation: A Definition of Field

Sharon O'Brien (Dublin City University), Jay Marlowe (The University of Auckland), and Brian Gerber (Arizona State University)
Presented by: Sharon O'Brien



The paper provides an overview of the relationship between crisis communication and translation work. It argues for the need to define a specific field of study at the crossroads of several disciplines: crisis translation. Multilingual emergencies and crises are a growing worldwide phenomenon and the illusion of a single international lingua franca hides the complexity of fluent communication in cascading crises (Pescaroli and Alexander 2015), where a chain of events engenders unexpected situations. 

Who are the translators and interpreters in unpredictable emergencies? How do they handle the power struggle intrinsic in the relationship between those affected and those responding? Do they have any professional expertise? To what extent are translation resources explicitly built into response operations or considered a key element of preparedness and response (Cadwell and O’Brien 2016)? Can volunteers be trained to become translators in response to specific crises (O’Brien 2016)? 

The paper reflects on the current positioning of translation in relation to crisis communication and the role played by a number of agencies – NGOs, crowdsourcing companies, and volunteers. The paper reports on an intensive scrutiny of international policies on emergency and disaster response, as emerging through the research carried out by the researchers involved in the H2020-funded INTERACT Network (International Network in Crisis Communication, Grant no. 734211). By focusing on whether or not some policies make explicit references to language support in crises occurring in multilingual and multicultural contexts, the policies are analysed in relation to their comprehensiveness in representing actionable ways of supporting intercultural communication. 


Crisis translation
Language policies
Crisis communication


Translation Training Needs in Crises: Design and Delivery

Minako O’hagan (University of Auckland) and Patrick Cadwell (Dublin City University)



This paper reports initial findings based on the first two recurrences of designing and delivering teaching materials focused on ‘crisis translation’, drawing on a social-constructivist approach and elements of active learning. Introductory sessions covering the role of translators and translation skills in crises are devised between 2017 and 2018 and team-taught in sequence in different academic settings, as a form of action research. They are delivered in the form of face-to-face classes, workshops, seminars, and webinars. The materials are designed to develop situational awareness abilities and core translation skills, including the use of machine translation and post-editing, to prepare novice and citizen translators so they can provide translation support in time-critical and resource-stripped crisis communication. Two iterations of the materials will be considered by the time of the IATIS conference and preliminary results stemming from questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and focus groups will be presented for discussion at the conference. Finally, the paper provides initial reflections on the role of citizen translation in the face of more frequent occurrences of disasters in different regions to help address this important global issue for which translation can contribute towards better response, recovery, and resilience. 


Cadwell, P. and O'Brien, S. 2016. Language, Culture, and Translation in Disaster ICT: An Ecosystemic Model of Understanding. Perspectives. 24(4): 557-575. 

Federici, F. M. (ed.) 2016. Mediating Emergencies and Conflicts. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. 

O’Brien, S. 2016. ‘Training Translators for Crisis Communication.’ In: Mediating Emergencies and Conflicts, edited by F.M. Federici. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. 81-115.


Crisis translation
Active learning
Action research
Citizen translation
Disaster studies


Professionals, Non-professionals, Citizens and the Definition of Roles

Federico Marco Federici and Khetam Al Sharou (University College London)



The role of crisis translators [1] operating during multilingual crises (be these the outcome of human-made or natural disasters) is discussed in this paper by focusing on data collected from surveying the experience of people involved in crisis communication. The data are simultaneously compared to the ways in which partners of the H2020-funded INTERACT Network deploy crisis translators. INTERACT partners are Cochrane, Unbabel, and Translators without Borders (TwB), which provide an array of language services. They draw on the efforts of polyglot medical experts, volunteer translators, and citizen translators depending on need. 

From translation and copyediting of systematic reviews of evidence-based medical research at Cochrane emerge evidence that their dissemination of advances in medical research offers access to trustworthy health-related information in crises. From the ad-hoc activities of Unbabel emerge forms of reactions to translation needs in response to crises using an online platform fostering translation crowdsourcing models. From the humanitarian translation proposed by TwB emerge further definitions of roles for crisis translators. 

By considering the variety of approaches used by these partners and the experience-based responses to our survey, the paper explores crisis translation practices in relation to broad debates on professionalism (Hertog, 2016; Susskind & Susskind, 2015). We will then focus on the discussion of professional roles in translation and interpreting (Katan, 2009) and on the ethical challenges of defining para-professional roles (Ess, 2014). 

[1] For expediency, we group under ‘crisis translator’ any linguist involved in culture and language transfer in oral, written, or multi-semiotic contexts. 


Citizen translators


Crisis Translation in Yemen: A Humanitarian Relief Operation in the Cholera Epidemic

Khaled Al-Shehari (Sultan Qaboos University)



International humanitarian organisations (e.g. Oxfam) have been working in Yemen for decades. However, their relief and humanitarian projects suffered following the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition recently. Qualified translators and interpreters (henceforth T&I) left the country, leaving organisations to rely on primarily non-professional volunteers to help them communicate with the residents of Yemen. 

The study, which is planned to finish by July 2018, explores expected provision to accommodate language needs in international humanitarian disasters; then, it compares these expectations with data from T&Is working in the sub-optimal operational circumstances in Yemen. 

Firstly, the study focuses on emergency plans (policies) that set out mechanisms for language provision to international relief organizations in their activities. Emergency response policies guiding T&I activities in Yemen are surveyed using the approach co-designed by Federici as part of the EU-funded INTERACT Crisis Translation project – led by Sharon O’Brien. Both statutory and non-statutory guidance focused on T&I’s services, applicable to Yemen, will be analysed to identify expectations on training, deployment, and post-event support. 

Secondly, the study will analyse data collected via remote, semi-structured interviews with citizen translators who have English-language qualifications and competences but lack training in translation or interpreting. These T&Is used to fulfil administrative roles but they did not perform any active translation and/or interpretation. Once professional T&Is fled the country, however, the citizen translators became the only few able to enable multilingual communication. The study aims to identify the work challenges they face and to discuss how they perceive them.


Crisis translation
Crisis in Yemen
Cholera outbreak in Yemen
Volunteer translation
Interpreting during the Yemeni crisis


Mediating as Trust-Building in Crisis Communication: Translation and Social Media in Emergencies from Natural Disasters

Maria Teresa Musacchio (University of Padova)



Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes know no national boundaries. Preparedness for and response to the resulting emergencies are increasingly international efforts requiring mediation across languages and cultures as disaster-hit areas may have populations and visitors of different nationalities and international relief operations are frequently organized. In the stressful conditions typical of emergencies from natural disasters, people have to entrust their lives and properties to emergency management operators. In these circumstances, successful communication where one or more languages and cultures are involved depends on trust built during the preparedness and planning phases and reinforced through effective mediation. Trust also descends from ethical considerations on the extent to which emergency operators can be believed to act in respect of human rights of the affected populations. This paper reports on the role of translation as a form of trust-building mediation within EU project Slandail (Security System for Language and Image Analysis) in the present-day context of hyperconnection through a range of formal and social media. Mediating strategies before and during natural disasters in bilingual areas are described, language barriers are explored in localising the system capturing reliable geo-located information from formal and social media to plan maximally effective relief operations and the role and management of multilingual terminology in communication among emergency relief organizations, voluntary organizations and the affected population(s) is discussed. The aim is to outline the complexity of natural disaster narratives, the need for clarity of communications and the relevance of mediating within and between languages and cultures.


Crisis communication
Social media
Natural disasters


Back to Top




PANEL 08: Translation and Space/Place

Panel Organizer:
Sue-Ann Harding (Queen’s University, Belfast)

Questions of space and place are key features of narrative theory in which I have held a long-running research interest, and which informs my present research on reading, translating and recovering alternative narratives of natural and urban landscapes in Qatar. This research investigates how travellers, visitors, residents and citizens of Qatar have sought to ‘read’, or make sense of the landscape, acting, effectively as translators as they de-code for themselves and other audiences what they encounter during their sojourn in the country. Like social-narrative theory itself, theories of space and place are also rising to the attention of some Translation Studies scholars, as evident in recent publications such as Sherry Simon’s Cities in Translation (Routledge, 2012) and the Translation Studies Special Issue on ‘The City as Translation Zone’ (Routledge, 2014) edited by Sherry Simon and Michael Cronin, and in translation studies research interested in border crossings, travel, sites of memory and museums. Spatiality, human geography and phenomenology are also attracting scholars across disciplines, including those working in anthropology, archaeology, (comparative) literature, critical theory, ecocriticism, geography and with material and intangible cultures. Place and space are indeed rich sites for innovative, interdisciplinary exchanges that seek to further our understanding and experiences of the physical worlds we inhabit and traverse.

This panel aims to provide a platform in which these themes can be explored by translation studies and other scholars seeking to learn from each other. Translation, however broadly defined, remains inherent to our decoding, naming and narrating of places, and the panel aims to explore not only concrete (rather than metaphorical) sites of translation but also theories of translation, movement and spatiality and ways in which they can inform and enrich each other. Topics that could be addressed as part of this panel include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Landscape in translated literature
  • Performative and activist translation on contested sites and over contested narratives
  • Sites of translation: urban landscapes; borders, boundaries and barriers; de-territorialised zones (of conflict)
  • Translating geography and cartography
  • Translating pilgrimage
  • Translation and ecocriticism
  • Translation and historical travel and exploration narratives
  • Translation and movements of people and goods: migration flows, refugee camps, trade routes
  • Translation and practices of naming and (re)labelling physical landscapes
  • Translation and travel
  • Translation at sites of memory and memorial

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizer:
Sue-Ann Harding holds a PhD in Translation Studies and Russian and, since 2012, has worked as an Assistant Professor at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, where she teaches core courses in translation studies, translation theory and research methods. Her research interests are in the areas of translation and social narrative theory with a particular interest in sites of conflict and narrative contestation. She is the author of Beslan: Six Stories of the Siege, and several articles in leading journals, including MetaThe TranslatorTargetPerspectives and The Russian Review. Sue-Ann is the Reviews Editor for The Translator, an ARTIS Associate and Chair of the Executive Council for the International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS). She is due to take up a position as Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast in May 2017. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 08:

 'One of the Most Stunning and Enthralling Cities in the World': A Contrastive Study of Adjectival Descriptions of Physical Space

Sofia Malamatidou (University of Birmingham)



This paper presents the preliminary results of an ongoing research project, which focuses on the analysis of the specific linguistic features used to promote tourist destinations, specifically examining how physical space (e.g. cities, attractions, etc.) is being described. While there are a growing number of studies investigating the language and translation of tourist texts (e.g. Manca 2008, 2012), their starting point tends to be the genre or text-type, rather than the physical space. In other words, they often focus on disembodied texts, examining their linguistic features as properties of the genre, rather than on how specific places are being defined. From the vantage point of the physical space, this paper analyses the prevalence of adjectival descriptions used to describe and promote it. Such descriptions, especially evaluative and superlative adjectives, have been found to abound in tourist discourse, at least in English (Pierini 2007). Methodologically, two corpora of tourist websites are employed: a Greek-English comparable and a Greek-English parallel. Firstly, a comparison is made between Greek and English non-translated texts regarding the linguistic means used to verbally decode a physical experience. Then, Greek source and English target texts are examined to establish how the verbal message is encoded into another language. Results, which I expect to obtain later in the year, will reveal how descriptions of physical space differ cross-culturally, whether the linguistic means used depend on the physical space being described, as well as how translated texts compare to their source texts and respective non-translated texts in the target language. 


Corpus-based translation studies
Tourist websites
Physical space
Adjectival descriptions


Translation, Heritage and Site of Memory: Angkor in Zhenla Fengtu Ji and Its English Renditions

Song Hou (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies)



This paper explores the cultural and linguistic translations of Angkor, first by the Yuan-dynasty Chinese scholar in his traveling/ethnographic writing Zhenla Fengtu Ji during the transition from 13th to 14th century, and then by modern Western experts in Chinese or Asian Studies in rendering the ancient Chinese writing into English from 1960s to 2000s. Those English versions include A Record of the Customs of Cambodia (1967) by D. P. Gilman, The Customs of Cambodia (2001) by Michael Smithies, and Record of Cambodia: The land and its people (2007) by Peter Harris. Combining textual analysis with sociocultural examination, I show how Angkor as a site of memory is represented in different cultural, historical contexts and how such cross-cultural representations contribute to the making and understanding of Angkor as world heritage site and a form of transcultural memory. It is argued that these cultural and linguistic translation processes are in contact zones where Eastern and Western ideas of historicity confront, modern and traditional senses of place interact, and colonial and post-colonial interests permeate. Either the retaining or the rewriting of Angkor memories is associated with present discourse and ideology that attempt to make and remake historical place in and for the present.


Site of memory
Zhenla Fengtu Ji


Wikipedia as Heterotopia: A Spatial Approach to the Analysis of Translation Practices within the Online User-Generated Encyclopaedia Platform

Henry Jones (University of Manchester)



Translation is one of the core mechanisms through which content is collaboratively produced within the online user-generated encyclopaedia Wikipedia. Not only do volunteer contributors frequently translate articles directly between the site’s 287 different language editions (McDonough Dolmaya 2017), but they also collect, summarise and synthesise multiple ‘external’ source materials, written in a variety of languages, as they jointly construct each encyclopaedia text (Jones 2018). 

This presentation aims to demonstrate how the spatial mode of analysis encouraged by Michel Foucault’s (1986) concept of ‘heterotopia’ can generate new insights into the diversity of translation practices that take place in this environment. It begins by providing a brief introduction to Foucault’s writings on heterotopia, and the way in which he draws attention to sites such as museums, cemeteries and gardens as spaces of strange yet productive juxtaposition in which “all the other real sites [‘emplacements’] that can be found in the culture are simultaneously represented, contested and inverted” (Foucault 1986: 24). I then show how viewing Wikipedia through this conceptual lens can highlight its multifaceted complexity as a ‘translation zone’: as a space for both global and local audiences, a space for public pedagogy and popular participation, a space for work and play. Through a case study focusing on the collaborative production of the English-language Wikipedia article about the city of Istanbul (Turkey), I illustrate how the platform’s discordant spatiality both shapes and is shaped by the multilingual processes through which its translator-contributors create their encyclopaedia entries. 




No Space for There and Now: Reflections on Exoticism in Translation Studies

Gabriela Saldanha (University of Birmingham)



The translation studies literature often resorts to ‘exoticism’ as a descriptive label, often from a questioning and largely critical perspective, but at the same time leaving the concept largely under-theorized. In this paper, I explore the ways in which the term has been used to describe the tension between homogenization and heterogenization that is characteristic of intercultural interactions, with a view to revealing the principles underlying exoticising as a particular way of viewing other cultures and, in particular, translations. This exploration employs the notions of ‘space’ and ‘time’, arguing that the ‘exotic’ is something that is required to remain at a distance, both temporally and spatially. This is illustrated with examples from the marketing of literature in English translation, examining how and why certain books are presented as belonging to ‘there and then’ and others as ‘here and now’. The concept of ‘exoticism’ is compared to the neighbouring ones of ‘alterity’ and ‘orientalism’ as used not only in the translation studies literature but also in postcolonial theory and anthropology. ‘Exotic’, ‘Other’ and ‘Orient/al’ are not qualities inherent to certain people, places, texts; they are labels that reflect particular ways of perceiving, processes of understanding that often reveal more about the place of enunciation than about the object of the gaze. Some of the questions to be explored are: to what extent do those processes imply a reduction? to what extent are they intrinsic to the cognition of otherness? and, more importantly, to what extent are they reversible?


Book reviews


From Space to Place: Inside the Translation Laboratory

Rebecca May Johnson and Sergio Lobejón Santos (Newcastle University)



The process of setting up a laboratory involves a long chain of micro-decisions aimed at creating a stable environment for data gathering or, at the very least, constructing an illusion of stability. Taking data from an experiment on collaborative poetry translation as its main source, this paper delves into the fundamental gulf between the purported ‘sterility’ of an artificially-created research environment and the reality within any social sciences experiment of having to “deal with mess, confusion and relative disorder” (Law 2004: 2). 

After defining the parameters of a collaborative translation laboratory to observe, record and analyse the actions and interactions of source poets, target poets and language advisors organised in trio configurations, researchers observed a shift from ‘space’ to ‘place’ when the trios moved into the supposedly sterile conditions of the laboratory. 

This unpredictable ‘mess’ manifested in several variables that were not anticipated from the outset, including those brought about by the physical and emotional presence of the participants and researchers and the intrusion of the city environment in which the laboratory was located into the translation process. These, among other unforeseeable circumstances, fundamentally affected what happened inside the lab, including the translation outcomes, and dramatically expanded the scope of the analysis beyond initial expectations to account for such inherently unstable elements, which not only affected the phenomena that were being measured, but, most importantly, became an intrinsic part of what was ultimately measured. 

Law, John. 2004. After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. Routledge: London and New York.




Where are We? Translating Qatar’s Natural and Urban Landscapes and Recovering Alternative Narratives

Sue-Ann Harding (Queen's University Belfast)



Qatar is a country that strives to promote and control its official public narrative of ambitious transformation and modernisation. Yet there are alternatives to this temporal, aspatial narrative of progress that are seldom heard. Many of these come from travellers, who, when they encounter a new place, seek to translate it into something meaningful (Cronin 2000, 23). They do this both for themselves as they negotiate unfamiliar environments, and for others (e.g. maps, reports, surveys, articles and travelogues). This paper presents the findings of a larger work-in-progress based on empirical and archival research that seeks to rediscover and give space to the voices and written observations of the explorers, sailors, archaeologists, geologists and civil servants who encountered and described (i.e. translated) the confronting landscape long before Qatar emerged as a sovereign nation. It also includes interviews with contemporary residents to investigate how they read and translate the natural landscapes of desert and seashore as well as the built environment. 

Drawing on Massey’s reconceptualisation of space as no longer static, closed and immobile but as “a product of interrelations” (2005, 10) and a multiplicity of “stories-so-far” (2005, 12) that enables a diversity of present and future political reimaginings, the project aims to recover some of these alternative narratives. It argues that such recovery can fracture reductionist narratives of exclusion and elitism, and make way for the elaboration of richer, more authentic narratives that, through the recognition of diversity and multiplicity, are more just and sustainable for a multicultural, 21st-century nation.


Travel writing


Wratislavia/Breslau/Wrocław – Key Translational Moments of an Urban Microcosm

Piotr Blumczynski (Queen's University Belfast)



Lodged between three capital cities: Warsaw, Berlin and Prague (indicating the three main sources of linguistic, cultural and national influences), Wratislavia has been both a site and a subject of complex translation practices throughout its millennium-long history. Conceptualized by the British historian Norman Davies "microcosm of Central Europe" (Davies and Moorhouse 2002), it provides an illuminating case study of rich and often conflicting narratives about places with a turbulent geopolitical history. This presentation will focus on the last seven decades which witnessed two major translations of the urban space. (1) After WW2 the German city of Breslau was handed over to the Polish People’s Republic (politically subordinated by the Soviet Union), it became a part of the overarching narrative of "Reclaimed Territories", and its architectural, cultural and linguistic landscape was thoroughly translated to ensure that any traces of its German heritage were replaced with "indigenously Polish" symbolism. (2) The political transformation of 1989 brought about another surge of translation as the former communist narrative gave way to new attempts to re-tell the city’s complex history. Today, as Wrocław seeks to forge its identity as a multicultural metropolis (cf. its titles of the European Capital of Culture and the World Book Capital, both 2016), translation continues to play a central role in this process, exposing paradoxes, discontinuities and divergent ideological perspectives. To demonstrate it, we will examine narratives found in sites of special symbolic significance -- including street names, monuments, memorials, and museums -- in three languages (Polish, German, and English).


Urban landscape
Contested narratives
National identity
World War II
Central Europe


Translation on the Edge of Brazil: The Translation of Literary Works into the Brazilian Indigenous Language, Nheengatu

John Milton (Queen's University Belfast)



Brazil is almost monolingually Portuguese in its 5570 municipalities, where, outside academic and business settings, translation and language transfer are found only at the interstices and edges, in indigenous reservations, and the continual interchange between Spanish and Portuguese, often in the hybrid Portunhol, on the borders. And only in the hidden corners of the large cities does one sees the remnants of a former multilingual immigrant population. 

As coordinator of the Postgraduate TS Programme at the University of São Paulo (2012 to 2016), I oversaw the project of Eduardo Navarro, whose students translate literary works into Nheengatu, an indigenous language of São Gabriel de Cachoeira (SGC), in the extreme northwest of Brazil. Ready for publication are Le Petit Prince and A terra dos meninos pelados, by Graciliano Ramos. SGC is the only Brazilian district to have official languages other than Portuguese, but Tukano, Baniwa and Nheengatu, though widespread, have no “official” written form. 

Following Kaisa Koskinnen’s ethnological approach in Translating Institutions, by interviewing Navarro, his students and users of the translations and making a field visit to SGC, I intend to examine: the choice of works to translate; acquisition of Nheengatu by translators; participation by native speakers; variant(s) of Nheengatu used; methods/ processes of translation; publication and access; use by schools and community. 

And has this “officialization” brought these languages into the dominant spaces of the city: the shopping malls and markets, government buildings, signage, institutional documentation; and the virtual space of websites, signalling possible future multilingual spaces in Brazil? 


Translation in Amazonia
Translation to Nheengatu
Eduardo Navarro
Translation into indigenous languages
Translation space in São Gabriel de Cachoeira


Back to Top




PANEL 09: Translating Development: The Importance of Language(s) in Processes of Social Transformation in Developing Countries

Panel Organizers:
Hilary Footitt (University of Reading)
Kobus Marais (University of the Free State)
Carmen Delgado Luchner (University of Reading & University of the Free State)
Wine Tesseur (University of Reading)

The majority of the world's population lives in emerging or developing countries. Most of these countries are highly multilingual and present a wealth of institutionalised and informal translation and interpreting (T&I) practices. In settings where many citizens have limited mastery of the official language of their country, translation can play an important developmental role by contributing to the emergence of shared representations and social forms. This role can only be understood by adopting a non-reductionist perspective, that takes into account the plurality of cultural, political and economic factors that influence how populations experience development.

However, compared with industrialised market economy countries (IMEC), developing countries also generally experience more acute limitations of skills, material and financial resources. This has implications for the practical implementation of multilingualism and the potential for professional T&I. National governments, multilateral organisations and foreign donors have been trying to address these limitations through a variety of national development initiatives and international aid. Development work has in turn given rise to its own practices of translation, interpreting and cultural mediation, including monolingual practices of 'translation' of local reality into international ‘development speak’. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular, have placed increasing emphasis on participatory development approaches which rest on their ability to communicate successfully across the linguistic and cultural divide that often separates them from project beneficiaries.

This interdisciplinary panel aims to establish a dialogue between translation studies, development anthropology, international relations and cultural studies, in order to address the nexus between translation/interpreting and development from three complementary angles: theory, practice and pedagogy. Contributors will discuss the importance of translation in the social transformations developing countries are experiencing, the specific translation practices produced by development projects, and the implications for translator and interpreter training in development contexts.

Suggestions of topics that might be addressed as part of this panel:

  • The role of T&I in the emergence of social and cultural forms in development contexts
  • T&I in the context of the development mandate of community media
  • T&I in Public Health and other essential sectors in development contexts
  • The identity and role of language intermediaries in development projects
  • Translators and interpreters as development brokers and knowledge producers
  • Translator and interpreter training for development contexts
  • Development-related constraints for the T&I professions
  • Development aid and the promotion of the English language

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Hilary Footitt is Research Professor at the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies of the University of Reading, UK. She was the Principal Investigator for the AHRC ‘Languages at War’ project (2008-2011), which explored the ways in which foreign languages became part of the institution of war, in intelligence, in military-civilian relations, and in displaced communities. She is currently the PI for the AHRC project ‘The Listening Zones of NGOs’ (2015-2018), which focuses on the role of languages and cultural knowledge in the policies and practices of development NGOs.

Kobus Marais is Associate Professor of translation studies in the Department of Linguistics and Language practice of University of the Free State, South Africa. His research explores the links between translation theory, semiotics/biosemiotics and development studies, and aims to deepen our understanding of what it means for a group (of people) to develop. In 2014, he published the book Translation Theory and Development studies: A Complexity Theory Approach, which was awarded the UFS book prize for Distinguished Scholarship. In this book, he namely examines the links between translation and development and the role of the informal economy for translation studies.

Carmen Delgado Luchner is a post-doctoral researcher in interpreting studies. Her current research project, funded though an Early Postdoc.Mobility scholarship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, focuses on the role of language brokers in development projects, in collaboration with the teams of Prof. Footitt (UK) and Prof. Marais (South Africa). Her doctoral dissertation (University of Geneva) focused on the challenges of conference interpreter training in Africa, which she analysed through an ethnographic case study at the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Wine Tesseur is a postdoctoral research assistant on the AHRC project ‘The Listening Zones of NGOs’. Her primary research interest in is language and translation policy at NGOs. Her doctoral dissertation focused on translation policies at the human rights NGO Amnesty International and on how translation and translation policy impact on an organisation's message and voice as it is spread around the world. In addition to translation studies, Wine has an interest in sociolinguistics, development work, anthropology, and cultural studies. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 09:

Translating Development between the 'Local' and the 'Global'

Hilary Footitt (University of Reading)



Dialogue between international development practitioners and local communities is seen by Western NGOs as critical to enhancing the effectiveness of development interventions, and contributing to successful theories of change. In this topography of development, there is an assumption that a local project context exists, embedded within a wider global rationale, with an implicit hierarchy between the macro and the micro: 'Context determines beneficiaries' preferred feedback mechanisms' (INTRAC, 2016: 74). 

This paper explores development interfaces between the 'local' and the 'global' in Peru, a country now positioned by the OECD as Upper Middle Income (OECD), and thus one from which many Western NGOs are progressively withdrawing their activities and offices. In this volatile and changing donor situation, the paper 'follows the actors' (Latour 2007:12) on the ground through the networks which currently translate and produce 'development' in Peru - development theorists, donors past and present, INGOs, Peruvian partners, Peruvian-led NGOs, 'beneficiaries', and translators/interpreters. Using Latour's understanding of 'translation' as indicating the stages by which ideas move into becoming 'scientific facts', the paper seeks to show how languages are implicated in producing development, and in both challenging and sustaining former hierarchies of context. 

INTRAC 2016. DFID Beneficiary Feedback Mechanisms (BFM) Pilot.End-point Review: Synthesis. Oxford:INTRAC. 

Latour, Bruno, 2007. Reassembling the Social. An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

OECD, Development Assistance Committee, 




Translating Development in Malawi: The Role of Language and Cultural Knowledge in the Relationships between Ngos, Local Communities and Language Intermediaries

Angela Crack (University of Portsmouth)



This paper investigates the role that language and cultural knowledge play in the ways in which Northern-based development NGOs attempt to ‘listen’ to local partners and communities. The findings are based upon field work in Malawi, a country where English (the predominant language of international development) has official status, but a variety of minority languages are spoken by different ethnic groups. Framed by the concept of a ‘listening zone’, the paper examines language policies and practices through document analysis, participant observation, and interviews with UK/Malawian NGO workers and community members. Particular attention is paid to the identities and roles of language intermediaries used by NGOs within development projects, and the translation/interpreting practices that are produced by such actors on the ground. The paper concludes with some reflections on the implications for translator and interpreter training in development contexts.


Translators and interpreters
Development NGOs


Translating Development in Kyrgyzstan: The Role of Language and Translation in Central Asian Civil Society

Wine Tesseur (University of Reading)



Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, international NGO involvement in Central Asia increased, and international organisations have played an important role in the development of NGOs in the region. Debates on civil society formation in Central Asia have analysed to what extent foreign donor programmes have produced a civil society that is artificial or alien. Many researchers have pointed out that the Western development model is not always relevant or meaningful to local people, whose values, traditions and culture differ from those of the West. The role of language and translation in development, however, has remained overlooked in these debates.

This paper explores the role of language and translation in civil society formation in Kyrgyzstan, and specifically in relationship building between international NGOs, who often use English, and local partners and communities. Only an estimated 0.5% of the Kyrgyz population speaks English as a second language. Drawing on interviews with development workers, observations and fieldnotes from a three week visit to various NGOs in Kyrgyzstan, the paper explores to what extent the role of English is pivotal in local civil society formation and development work. Furthermore, it will trace the translation practices in the local development context, covering a range of languages, from Russian as the lingua franca of the Central Asian region, to languages spoken by local communities such as Kyrgyz and Uzbek. This paper thus seeks to understand how development is ‘translated’ in this context by drawing on theoretical frameworks from development studies, sociolinguistics and translation studies.


Central Asia
Role of English


Semiotranslating Development 

Kobus Marais (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein)



Studying the relationship between translation and development is a fledgling enterprise. Apart from my own work, a number of studies and projects have been attempted in this regard. Apart from the above, thinking about development in translation studies is also constrained by the fact that most of this thinking is done in terms of interlinguistic translation. In a world that is increasingly developing in the direction of multimodal communication, this bias cannot hold. Furthermore, literature on how societies develop from the (multimodal) semiosic interactions between people is growing and challenging the linguistic bias that is inherent in translation studies. 

In this presentation, I address both of the above limitations by (1) contributing to the theoretical underpinning of the relationship between translation and development through (2) presenting a Peircean view of semiotics which includes his notions of degenerate signs, i.e. signs without interpretants. The theory explains that many social habits (development patterns or trajectories) take place at an unconscious level and at a prelinguistic level. In order for translation studies scholars to contribute to the debate on the emergence or development or society, they need to be able to (also) study the degenerate signs which human beings construct in response to their environment. 

The presentation will combine Peircean semiotics (also referring to secondary literature on Peirce) and complexity thinking in order to present the parameters of a theory of development from a translation perspective. 


Degenerate signs


Translation in a Developmental Context: Health Promotion in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mwamba Chibamba (University of Ottawa)



Health is a fundamental human right which impacts directly upon economic and social development (WHO 1978). Too many children die from preventable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa (UNDP). Prevention and education are key in curbing mortality rates and in improving the health standards of the vulnerable. The 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion adopted health promotion as an approach to health care delivery. In line with global health policies, many African countries have adopted health promotion as a tool to combat disease. Being heavily dependent on co-operating partners, many health promotion campaigns in the developing world are formulated with the financial and technical assistance of Western donors. These results in a top-down, paternalistic approach where the methods and approaches employed are those favoured by the donors. Often, these approaches do not involve the target audiences nor take into consideration their specific socio-economic and cultural contexts (Houéto & Valentini 2014; Sanders et al. 2008; Bernhardt 2004).

It is against this backdrop that this paper seeks to explore translation practices in health promotion in sub-Saharan Africa. Given Africa’s multilingualism and development context, it is imperative that health campaigns on issues as varied as child nutrition and immunization, and the prevention of diseases ranging from malaria to HIV/AIDS, which, for the most part, are produced in the West and in European languages, are localized. The study explores the interplay between various forms of translation, that is, intralingual, interlingual, intersemiotic (Jakobson 1966), and multimodal translation and the communication strategies used to create health promotion messages.


Health Promotion
Sub-Saharan Africa


Bulle, Bern and Bamako: Translation Practices in Swiss Development NGOs
Carmen Delgado Luchner (University of Reading)



Development projects implemented in the South in cooperation with Northern NGOs can be viewed as contact zones where different ideas about progress, economic prosperity, modernity, but also culture and language meet. In these projects we find numerous practices of translation, interpreting and cultural mediation. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular, have placed increasing emphasis on participatory development approaches which require them to communicate across the linguistic and cultural divide that separates them from project beneficiaries. 

My focus in this paper is on development NGOs based in Switzerland and operating in different African countries. Switzerland is a multilingual country with four official languages that differ greatly in size and status. This language situation to some extent mirrors that of many of the African countries that Swiss NGOs operate in, however, there are also important contextual differences. Furthermore, English is increasingly used as a lingua franca of development.

Language consequently plays a role in internal and external communication in Swiss NGOs. Indeed, organizations need to decide what to translate and into what language(s), when to rely on interpreters and when to expect their staff to be able to work multilingually. Based on a case study of NGOs operating in Kenya, I will illustrate how language barriers are overcome and how decisions about translation and interpretation are shaped concurrently by the linguistic reality in the South but also by assumptions about language and multilingualism in the North.


Non-professional translation and interpreting (NPIT)
Language policy


Translating "Individualism" into Chinese: the Interaction between Translation and Development

Meihua Song (Southwest Jiaotong University)



In Chinese, there is no single word that can represent the Western concept of ‘individualism’. There are mainly two translations of “individualism”: 個人主義and個體主義, with the connotation of the former being somewhat negative while that of the latter is neutral. These two terms have coexisted and competed provoking significant confusion in academic fields and translation practices. However, a dearth of research has been carried out into the interaction between the Chinese translation of “individualism” and the development of society in China by historicising and contextualizing the coexistence and competition of the two terms (個人主義and個體主義) as a social phenomenon.

The aim of this article is therefore to reconstruct and analyse the ‘norms’ behind the Chinese translation of “individualism” at five different historical periods of China’s development since it was first introduced by translation to China in the early 20th century. It will adopt DTS (Descriptive Translation Studies) as the framework and consider the TEC (Translational English Corpus) and Koselleck’s distinction as methodological resources for tracing the terms. Furthermore, prestigious journal articles arguing about which term should be used as the standard translation of “individualism” at different periods will also be used as a research resource.



Back to Top




PANEL 10: Audiovisual Translation as Cross-cultural Mediation - New Trajectories for Translation and Cultural Mobility?

Panel Organizers:
Marie-Noëlle Guillot (University of East Anglia)
Louisa Desilla (University College London)
Maria Pavesi (University of Pavia)
Patrick Zabalbeascoa (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona)

How effective are the linguistic, pragmatic and other adaptive practices in evidence in audiovisual translation as tools for linguistic and cultural representation within the multimodal film medium, what is their cross-cultural impact and, ultimately, their intercultural reach?

These are the overarching questions that the proposed panel will address. They are underpinned by two complementary sets of research concerns, relating respectively to description and reception processes in mainstream AVT:

  • What are the main features of these adaptive practices?
  • How are they perceived and reacted to by audiences?

With the ever broader global dissemination and consumption of mainstream media and cultural products mediated through translation, these questions are increasingly critical. Specifically, there is a great deal of research ground to cover to systematise our understanding of how communicative practices are embodied in AVT, and how the interlingual representations they convey affect audiences’ responses to otherness.

There has been work in description, with input from linguistic disciplines like pragmatics and cross-cultural pragmatics and studies of communicative practices and their interlingual representation (e.g. Pavesi for dubbing, Guillot for subtitling, for example, and e.g. 2013 and 2017a respectively) and narrative aspects and characterization (see Guillot 2017b for an overview). AV texts’ creative capacity as meaning-making resources in their own right within the multi-semiotic context of AV products has been a strong emergent theme, fuelled by input from amateur practice (see e.g. Perez-Gonzalez 2012), and in research by new interdisciplinary takes, on participation framework and audience positioning, for example (e.g. Messerli 2017). It is a long way from being fully mapped out, or understood in all its implications, and needs to develop critical mass.

As regards reception, research into interpretation and responses to AV-mediated products is barely in its infancy from the perspective of cross-cultural understanding, with only sporadic incursions to date (e.g. Desilla 2014, De Pablos 2015). It stands to benefit from booming research into AVT and media accessibility, with psycholinguistic input from studies into accessibility practices drawing on the latest technology (AD, SDH; eye tracking, neuroimaging/EEG technology, etc.) and applications to performance and physiological studies (see overview in Kruger 2016, for example, and contributions to Perego 2012, among others). There is know-how to be tapped from cultural and film studies in probing AVT as cultural exchange within its complex multimodal embeddings (Zabalbeascoa 2008 and others), and a channel for intercultural literacy (see e.g. Mingant 2010). There is a phenomenal challenge ahead of us still, however, in accounting for perceptual responses to AVT-mediated cultural products in all their expressive idiosyncrasies, including cultural a-synchrony between source context and target linguistic medium, and thus for the linguistic and cultural adaptability and mobility of audiences’ cross- and intercultural responses.

Other questions of relevance to cultural mobility and intercultural literacy are typical asymmetries in the languages and cultures represented via AVT, and in the pairs of languages involved, with English taking precedence, while in research the bulk of work has, conversely, been undertaken largely by researchers from non-native English backgrounds.

Taking forward the complex research agenda outlined in this brief overview calls for a pooling of resources and research within an interdisciplinary framework that it is the aim of this panel to foster. Panel themes and related issues include:

  • Audiovisual translation in a multilingual society
  • Linguistic and cultural representation in translated film
  • The perception of the other through audiovisual products
  • Multilingualism in subtitling and dubbing
  • Audiovisual translation and the promotion of diversity, tolerance and respect for difference
  • Linguistic and cultural literacy through audiovisual translation in the contemporary world
  • Immersion in foreign film as cultural mobility
  • Amateur practices across borders in fansubbing/dubbing

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Marie-Noëlle Guillot is a Senior Lecturer in French, Linguistics and Translation Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich, in the UK. The focus of her research has shifted from applied linguistics to cross-cultural pragmatics, and latterly to audiovisual translation from a cross-cultural pragmatics perspective. She has a particular interest in cross-cultural representation, and has explored the question in museum translation and in film subtitling. It is the main theme of the 2016-17 ARHC-funded international network project for which she is the Principal investigator - Tapping the Power of Foreign Language Films: Audiovisual Translation as Cross-cultural Mediation (AHRC Grant AH/N007026/1).
Her publications on the topic include ‘Film subtitles from a cross-cultural pragmatics perspective: issues of linguistic and cultural representation’ (The Translator, 2010), ‘Stylization and representation in subtitles: can less be more?’ (Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 2012), ‘Film subtitles and the conundrum of linguistic and cultural representation: a methodological blind spot’ (in Luginbühl and Stefan eds, 2012), ‘Cross-cultural pragmatics and translation: the case of museum texts as interlingual representation’ (in House ed., 2014), ‘Cross-cultural pragmatics and audiovisual translation’ (in Ramos Pinto and Gambier eds, Target Special Issue ‘Audiovisual Translation: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges’, 2016), ‘Communicative rituals and audiovisual translation - representation of otherness in film subtitles’ (META, 2017), ‘Subtitling and Dubbing in Telecinematic Text’ (in Locher and Jucker eds, de Gruyter Handbooks of Pragmatics: Pragmatics of Fiction, 2017), ‘Subtitling on the cusp of its futures’ (in Pérez-González (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation Studies, fc. 2017 (submitted).

Louisa Desilla. After obtaining a first-class BA in English Language and Literature from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Dr Louisa Desilla was awarded an MA in Translation Studies (2005) and a PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies (2009) by the University of Manchester. Her principal research interests reside in the pragmatics of intercultural communication and audiovisual translation. Through her doctoral studies, she has developed a strong interest in audience reception of subtitled/dubbed films. She is currently co-investigator on the AHRC-funded networking project entitled Tapping the Power of Foreign Films: Audiovisual Translation as Cross-cultural Mediation in collaboration with the University of East Anglia. She has published in international academic journals in the fields of Linguistics and Translation.

Maria Pavesi, Ph.D., is Professor of English language and Linguistics at the University of Pavia, where she also teaches Audiovisual Translation. Her research has addressed several topics in English applied linguistics, focusing on film translation, orality in dubbing with special attention to personal, spatial and social deixis, and second language acquisition via audiovisual input. In these areas she has published widely, both nationally and internationally. Her most recent publications include the co-edited volume The Languages of Dubbing. Mainstream Audiovisual Translation in Italy, Peter Lang, Bern 2014, “Formulaicity in and across film dialogue: clefts as translational routines”, Across Languages and Cultures, 2016,17/1 and, with Elisa Ghia, “The language of dubbing and its comprehension by learner-viewers. An empirical study”, Across Languages and Cultures, 2016 (17/2). Maria Pavesi was the coordinator of the international excellence project “English and Italian audiovisual language: translation and language learning” (2010-2012), which updated and developed the Pavia Corpus of Film Dialogue, a parallel and comparable corpus now comprising more than 650,000 words of Anglophone and dubbed and original Italian film transcriptions.

Patrick Zabalbeascoa is a Principal Lecturer in Translation Studies at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. He lectures in translation theory and audiovisual screen translation, mostly from English into Spanish and Catalan. His research is focused on translation studies, with special attention to the television and the cinema. He also has numerous publications in translation theory, an area in which he has developed a model of priorities and restrictions, and proposed alternative approaches to traditional views on so-called translation techniques, or shifts. Some of his most recent thinking and publications have to with developing the idea of mapping translation solutions through a system of binary branching, and also mapping audiovisual text components on coordinates defined by an audio/visual axis, and a verbal / non-verbal axis. He has worked on several EC funded projects and Thematic Networks (LeViS, SLL, ClipFlair, TraFilM, The translation of multilingual films in Spain.) 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 10:

Subtitling’s Cross-Cultural Expressivity Put to the Test: Montalbano in French and English

Marie-Noelle Guillot (University of East Anglia)



The focus of the proposed paper is linguistic and cultural representation in AVT as a medium of intercultural literacy. It will put to the test increasingly accepted assumptions about AVT modalities’ distinctive meaning potential and expressive capacity (Guillot 2016a, 2017), with a case study of communicative practices in their representation, via interlingual subtitling/dubbing, in the cult Italian TV series Montalbano. 

The study applies to (Latinate) French and (Anglo-Saxon) English and uses a cross-cultural pragmatics framework to explore representation, initially from the perspective of a lay (near) non-speaker of Italian. The dataset comprises episodes from series one of Montalbano, where the strong characterisation routinely flagged as typical of the series is originally established. Initial responses are then inspected critically, with analyses of features identified in earlier studies as a locus of stylised representation in subtitling (pronominal address, greetings, telephone exchanges, thanking), with evidence of distinctive pragmatic indexing (Guillot 2016b). Analyses will extend to language varieties, and document further the pragmatic situatedness observed elsewhere, with a comparison of strategies in languages with different origins, French and English, and respective capacity to evolve their own conventions for representing verbal routines and their own internal pragmatic settings.

The study is part of the endeavour to inform debates about, and build up the picture of, AVT as cross-cultural mediation promoted by the AHRC funded project - Tapping the Power of Foreign Language Films: Audiovisual Translation as Cross-cultural Mediation (AHRC Grant AH/N007026/1) and will double up as an introduction for the Films in Translation panel (10).


Cross-cultural representation
Pragmatic situatedness


Linguistic Representations of the ‘Other’ in Multilingual Films of Turkey

Aysun Kiran (University College London/Marmara University)



This paper explores the linguistic representations of minority groups in Turkey in post-1990s Turkish cinema. It aims to identify how the uses of multilingualism and translation promote diversity and respect for difference, thereby reworking the monolingualist mindset, which prevailed in Turkey until the late 1990s. The monolingualist mindset is characterised by a suspicion of other languages and those who speak them, and aims for linguistic homogeneity. Therefore, there is an underlying tension between everyday linguistic practices of multilingual people and the monolingualist mindset. This paper argues that the linguistic representation of the ‘other’ varies in each multilingual film in line with its engagement with this tension. Four films examined here are Sonbahar (Autumn, 2008), Nefes (Breath, 2009), Ben Gördüm (Min Dît: the Children of Diyarbakır, 2009), and Jîn (2013). Chris Wahl’s distinction between genuine polyglot films and those which incorporate multilingualism without any contribution to character or plot development serves a reference point in discussing the differences in the functions of multilingualism in each film. The analysis investigates a) what symbolic values are assigned to particular languages through the temporal and spatial contexts of use, b) how the characters speaking these languages are depicted in the story, and c) whether multilingual interactions are accompanied by extra- or intra-diegetic interpreting techniques. The findings suggest that these films constitute ‘genuine polyglot films’ and champion the recognition of linguistic difference to the degree that they unmark the ‘marked’ status of minority languages and problematize the asymmetrical relationship between the majority and minority languages. 


Multilingual cinema
Turkish cinema
Linguistic representation
Film discourse


How Culture-Specific Intertextuality Is Successfully Localized in Musical Theater Translation in South Korea?

Jungmin Hong (Ewha Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation)



South Korea’s musical market has expanded at an annual rate of 19 percent for five years through 2014 (Korea Arts Management Service 2015). The growth has been driven by licensed musicals - those created in one country, and translated and performed in another country – including the pieces based on fiction or true stories familiar to the source culture. While the culture-specific intertextual elements can prevent audience in a different culture from fully appreciating the works, their Korean-language versions have successfully negotiated these elements to help better understanding of Koreans without relevant knowledge. This is what motivated the present study which investigates how culture-specific intertextual elements in original musicals are translated in Korea to help audience’s understanding and therefore commercial or critical success of them. Taking examples from Sweeney Todd, Thrill me, Wicked, and Evil Dead whose Korean versions enjoyed huge popularity in the country, this study will adopt two methods: textual and extra-textual analysis. Lyrics and lines will be analyzed based on the four key strategies of (re)framing suggested by Baker (2006): temporal and spatial framing, selective appropriation, labeling, and repositioning. Extra-textual analysis will draw on the frameworks for exploring theatre and opera translation such as Kowzan (1968) and Gorlee (1997). Since musical theatre refers to a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, dance and costumes (Cambridge Dictionary; Oxford Living Dictionary), verbal and non-verbal elements will be collected from video clips, images, original sound tracks, program books, relevant research papers, and newspaper and magazine articles.


Culture-specific intertextuality
Musical theater translation
Licensed musicals


Happily Lost in Translation: Misunderstandings in Film Dialogue

Louisa Desilla (University College London)



The intimate link between misunderstandings and implicit meaning has often been highlighted within pragmatic enquiry: the more information communicators leave implicit the higher the possibility of their being misunderstood (Yus Ramos, 1999: 219). At the same time, in non bona fide communication (whether real or fictional), misunderstandings may be deliberately caused by the communicator (Airenti et. al, 1993). Nevertheless, the role of misunderstandings in film dialogue as well as their journey across cultures remains largely unexplored. 

The present paper examines the construal, cross-cultural relay and comprehension of misunderstandings by filmmakers, translators and audiences respectively of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). In particular, it reports on some of the findings of a case-study on implicatures in these two romantic comedies (Desilla 2009/2012/2014). As expected, both genuine and feigned misunderstandings have been identified in the two films. Inter alia, the analysis will show that misunderstandings can serve comedic and/or narrative functions, the latter pertaining to both characterisation and, more crucially, plot advancement. Also, it will be demonstrated how misunderstandings can permeate only a single layer or both layers of film communication. 

Given that the aim of subtitles is to make the film experience comprehensible but no less enjoyable, it comes as no surprise that explicitation is seldom opted for since it could significantly lower the degree of engagement of the target audience and have a detrimental effect on plot development as originally designed by the filmmakers. 


Film dialogue


Titles, Voices and Accents: Exploring the Multilinguistic and Multicultural History of AVT in the Spanish-Speaking World

Adrián Fuentes-Luque (Universidad Pablo de Olavide)



The study of audiovisual translation (AVT) has fundamentally limited to the European context. There is no research on the implementation and development of the different AVT modes in Spanish-speaking Latin America, or the language policies governing the distribution and commercialisation of audiovisual material in Latin America. With the exception of some historical accounts of AVT modes (Ivarsson 1992, Ivarsson and Carroll 1998 on subtitling; a brief historical review of dubbing by Chaume 2012, and Ávila 1997), the history of audiovisual translation in general is virtually unexplored. In the case of Spanish-speaking Latin America, the interest and need is even greater since, for many years, all audiovisual translation for the whole Spanish-speaking market was carried out in several Latin American countries, and eventually gave birth to a particular linguistic variation labeled “neutral Spanish”, which still characterises Latin American Spanish dubbing today. This paper investigates the little-known origins of AVT modes in the Spanish-speaking world. Based on historical accounts, interviews with key agents, and relevant documents, it also explores some potential factors involved in the election and implementation of specific AVT modes in the different Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Exploring and describing them will help determine the social, cultural, commercial and linguistic implications of the election of a given AVT mode and a specific language model for Latin American countries. Also, the paper analyses the consequences of establishing a specific linguistic variation for the distribution of audiovisual productions in the Spanish-speaking market (the so-called “neutral Spanish”).


History of translation
Audiovisual translation
Multilingual versions
Neutral Spanish


‘Conversation’ as a Basic Unit of Translational Analysis for Multilingual Film and Television

Montse Corrius and Patrick Zabalbeascoa (University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia and Universitat Pompeu Fabra)



Building on findings of previous research and the state of the art in the dubbed and subtitled versions of multilingual audiovisual texts, the TraFilm project ( sets out to create a research tool for building a database of instance of L3 in films and TV series. One of the insights gained in the process of carrying out this project has been the need to provide a unit of analysis that is capable of providing context as well the exact location of each instance of L3 within a given AV text. We have found that the conversation as unit provides conceptual and methodological advantages over other possible units which could have been the L3 instance itself (too small to meaningful on its own) and the scene as understood in film studies (too varied and complex for the purpose of creating a systematic database). Conversation is borrowed from the field of Conversation Analysis but also happens to fit in well with certain practical recommendations of guides for scriptwriters. The conversation as AV unit has an additional advantage of being adaptable to the creation of an audiovisual corpus by creating clips that would be as long as each conversation, being pragmatically whole without being too long for research purposes. Our presentation will focus on features of conversation that are relevant for AVT studies, especially for the case of multilingual texts, through a combination of sociolinguistic conversational analysis and the conventions fictional AV dialogue and scriptwriting.


Third language
Audiovisual Translation


Multilingualism in Film Translation: Findings from the TRAFILM Project

Eva Espasa (University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia) and Stavroula Sokoli (Hellenic Open University)



The presence of multilingualism and language variation in films poses specific translation challenges which have been researched, amongst others, by Corrius and Zabalbeascoa (2011), Bleichenbacher (2008), O’Sullivan (2011) and De Higes (2014). The Spanish funded project TRAFILM (FFI2014-55952-P) builds on those research initiatives and studies multilingualism in film translation from a broad perspective across audiovisual translation modes. 

The main aim of the Trafilm project is to describe and compare the strategies for rendering multilingualism across AV translation modes and hopefully to validate and refine existing theoretical models on audiovisual translation and multilingualism by describing and analysing a rich collection of data. For this purpose, a tool has been designed which researchers can use to analyse multilingual AV texts by answering questions such as whether L3 is meant to be understood by the audience and whether the pragmatic meaning of L3 can be deciphered by other means. All questions are answered for the source text and the target text so that the tool can easily show differences and similarities. These structured analyses take the form of a database which can be consulted to discover and describe features and tendencies that arise from rendering linguistic diversity for dubbing, subtitling and accessibility modes. 

This paper will present the main findings of the project. It will also deal with a range of issues regarding its implementation, such as the challenges of corpus selection, the elaboration of an analytical model which is apt for collective research including numerous language combinations, translation modes and AV genres. 


Audiovisual translation


User-Generated Translation in the Age of Participatory Media: A Case Study of Subtitling Practices on Bilibili

Xiaoping Wu (University of Macau)



In the age of participatory media that features user-generated content, translation practices take on new and diversified forms that problematize the notions of professionalism and faithfulness, especially in audiovisual translation. However, translation studies alone may not be able to account for the complexity of these practices. The study of audiovisual translation thus calls for interdisciplinary inquiry, and the presentation will accordingly invoke concepts from translation studies, media studies and sociolinguistics to support the analysis.

This study sets out to investigate user-generated translation and interaction among new media users in the emerging online community of amateur translators. It explores the role of amateur translation in the context of media convergence and examines how it blurs the boundary between production and consumption. The data to be analyzed consists of an American political parody video produced by Saturday Night Live and its Chinese translation by the users of Bilibili, a Chinese media sharing website, in the form of “screen bullet” (pinyin: danmu). Screen bullet, a widely-used model of video watching, allows the audience to send text messages while watching the video, with the text messages (mostly comments) projected on or scrolling across the video. Data analysis, which involves multimodal analysis and textual analysis of screen bullets, reveals a multi-layered display of different versions of translation and reactions to them, demonstrating that translation involves a complex process of collaboration, amateur contribution, as well as quasi-synchronous interactions between translators and other members of the online community in the age of participatory media. 


User-generated translation
Participatory media
Audiovisual translation



Nonsensical Humor in Translation —The Subtitling of Hong Kong Comedic Films

Yuk Sunny Tien (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)



Humor has posed significant challenges to translators as it is usually rooted in a specific cultural and linguistic context. This paper will discuss humorous expressions in comedic films in Hong Kong, which have long been considered “untranslatable”, “badly translated”, or “simply unable to be translated correctly” because they are based on verbal humor familiar to the local Cantonese audience but incomprehensible to Western audiences or other cultures. One typical example is Stephen Chow’s film jokes, which have been termed “nonsensical” or “absurd”, as the jokes he presents are incompatible with logic or the world as we know it. But what does it mean when one says his punchlines defy translation? The translation problems, especially the toning down of humor and mistakes in the subtitle translation require further investigation. Some potential topics could be: 1. How this subset of humor is defined, and in what form it is expressed; 2. the relationship between the mechanism employed in this type of humor and the translation strategies adopted in the subtitles; 3. the ways cultural jokes are domesticated and creatively adapted and the audiences’ intercultural responses to the expression/reinvention of the jokes, and 4. how the maximum dose of comedic effect can be achieved in an interlingual representation. This paper also proposes a classification of Chow’s jokes based on the current typologies of nonsensical humor, and analyzes how the various translational norms and externalities come into play when local, comedic films are reconstructed in the target cultural medium.


Subtitle translation
Nonsensical humor


Ideological Concordance in Translating Chinese TV Programs: Recognition of Self and Tolerance of Other

Wenhao Yao (Guangxi Normal University)



Technically, in AVT, audio and visual elements and translation (language elements) function in a system of rhythmic (form), semantic (meaning) and aesthetic (pragmatics) concordance. However, AVT involves more than the mere linguistic consideration, particularly because of the complexity of media in communication. TV program, as a carrier of AV information, for example, works quite differently in that it serves mainly as the tongue of the government, the publicity tool of cultural and ideological progress, thus making “ideological concordance” another consideration in translating TV programs. However, the process of achieving “ideological concordance” is tricky, given the difference in language and culture, and especially the subtlety of relationship between Self and Other. Cross-culturally and ideologically, foreignized translation may be criticized as aggressive yet domesticized one as obsequious. This is already not a matter of translation strategy, but a matter of translation policy, a policy of positioning Self and Other—to translators, this is a question of ethics. 

In light of China’s national publicity policy and based on reflection on my six-year practice of translating Chinese TV programs into English, there is a middle route to follow, featuring recognition of self (de-domestication) and tolerance of other (de-foreignization)—to introduce China neither aggressively or obsequiously, but confidently. Powered by such an ethic model grounded on patriotism and globalism coexisting in his identity as a cross-cultural mediator, the translator can reasonably deal with the Self-Other relationship, especially in translating culture-loaded, geographically-sensitive and politically-related words frequently found in TV program translation, to achieve true “ideological concordance”. 


TV Program Translation
Ideological Concordance


Cultural Translation and Mobility of Taiwanese Idol Drama

Tsui-Ling Huang (Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages)



Under the influence of globalization, film and television has become a popular trend. Over recent years, the promotion of Taiwanese cultural industry was focused on gaining international attention through the translation of idol dramas and movies into other foreign languages, such as Spanish. Out of a total of hundreds of Taiwanese idol dramas, the most popular dramas with the highest ratings, publicities, and awards were translated and dubbed in Spanish. In 2014, “Xi Li Ren Qi” (La Esposa Valiente) was dubbed in Spanish and broadcasted in Latin America, followed by “Shi Liu Ge Xia Tian” (16 veranos/The Way We Were) in 2016, which was the second Taiwanese idol drama successfully promoted in Latin America. 

Subtitle translation is a form of exchange between Western and Eastern cultures. It reflects the communication and conversion between two different languages and cultures. As a result, translation of film and television can be seen as a method to advance exchange between Taiwanese and Latin American cultures, and idol dramas are the tools for cultural exchange and mobility. Dramas not only can touch people’s hearts, but also are a form of culture; it reflects the development of a society. 

Through this research, the writer will explore cooperation opportunities and strategies for the translation and globalization of Taiwanese film and television, methods for improving the cooperation standards for film and television translation, and the reducing of restrictions in cultural exchange during film and television translation. These are all important aspects of cultural exchange in Chinese and Western cultures. 


Idol dramas
Film and television translation
Cultural mobility


Back to Top




PANEL 11: The Cultural Mobility of Queer Knowledges through Translation

Panel Organizers:
Ting Guo (University of Exeter)
Jonathan Evans (University of Portsmouth)

The translation of LGBT and queer texts has been a focus of work in translation studies since the early 2000s (e.g. Harvey 2003), but recent work (e.g. Domínguez Ruvalcaba 2016) has questioned the colonial nature of translations of the notion of queer, asking whether the idea of ‘queerness’ is itself a North American and European construct that is difficult to apply in other cultural situations (particularly Latin America). Translations of the notion of homosexuality have been re-examined as part of the recent questioning of translations of sexology (e.g. Bauer 2009, 2015; Guo 2016) which ask how Western notions were negotiated and adapted when key texts were translated. Particularly at risk in this process are ‘local knowledges’ (Halberstam 2011: 9-11), that is, indigenous conceptualisations of what it means to be LGBT and/or queer that are specific to the host culture, which stand to be elided or forgotten by the importation of new knowledge. This panel will investigate how notions of queerness move across cultures and how they are negiotiated, modified and appropriated by the host culture. These moves may take the form of the translation of scientific studies of sexuality (from the work of sexologists like Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis or the Kinsey reports to more recent scientific work), the translation of literary and cultural texts that depict LGBT or queer characters (such as the Taiwanese movie Blue Gate Crossing or the British film Weekend), the circulation of queer theory, the culture of gay/lesbian bars in different countries, among other topics. The aim is to discuss not only the textual adaptations taking place, but the cultural reception of these texts in order to better understand how these complex and sensitive ideas are negotiated as they circulate around the globe and how local populations digest their cultural mobility.


  • Translation of ideas of gay, lesbian, queer across different cultures.
  • Use of foreign texts to initiate or develop discussions of LGBT/queer themes.
  • Negotiation of foreign ideas about sexualities.
  • Integration of local knowledges about sexualities in translations of foreign texts.
  • Cultural mobility of LGBT/queer institutions such as gay bars, LGBT student associations, etc.
  • Censorship and ways around it in relation to LGBT topics.
  • Comparative notions of queerness.
  • Queer theory in translation.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Jonathan Evans is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth. He is author of The Many Voices of Lydia Davis (EUP, 2016) and co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics (forthcoming 2018). He has published articles in journals such as Journal of Adaptation in Film and PerformanceTranslation StudiesJournal of Specialised TranslationTranslation and Literature, and TTR.

Ting Guo is Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages, University of Exeter. She is the author of Surviving Violent Conflict: Chinese Interpreters in the Second-Sino Japanese War (1931-45) (2016). She has published in journals such as Literature Compass, Translation Studies and Translation Quarterly


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 11:

Translating and Appropriating Queer Knowledges through the Underground Subtitling of Foreign Films in China

Jonathan Evans (University of Portsmouth) and Ting Guo (University of Exeter)



Although homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 2001 by China’s Ministry of Health, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination and harassment, lacking legal protection and access to healthcare in China. Media portraying homosexual and transgender topics are strictly censored or banned, limiting public discussion of sexual and gender identity in China. However, in sharp contrast to the sanitized Chinese mainstream media, there is an abundance of translated international queer films available online. 

Through examining the translation activities of Chinese LGBT subgroup, QAF (Queer as Folk), and their translation of a British queer film The Weekend (2011), this paper investigates the role of translation in the wider context of the Chinese LGBT rights movement. It asks: What strategies have been employed by Chinese fan and activist translators in translating international queer films? How are these films used to interpret and disseminate key LGBT related concepts such as gender, sexuality and equality? How does translated queer cinema promote discussion on LGBT rights? It argues that the underground Chinese translation of international queer films not only provides new vocabulary and terms for LGBT-rights activists to educate, agitate and inspire the Chinese public, but also stimulates the development of a queer screen culture and encourages dialogues among LGBT communities, the mainstream media and the public in China. These links and connections between online translation communities and LGBT movement in China also reveal the role of translators in defining and shaping networks of knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing. 


Queer knowledges
Underground translation
Online communities


Kindred Soul, Cool Kid, and Bizarre Fetus: Sinophone Circulation of Queerness in Taiwan

Wangtaolue Guo (University of Alberta)



Translation, as Maria Tymoczko notes in Translation, Resistance, Activism, has been "instrumental in cultural liberation and important cultural shifts" (1-2). This paper aims to highlight translation’s role in destigmatizing homosexuality and constructing a queer identity in Taiwan, by tracing the emergence of tongzhi (kindred soul), ku’er (cool kid), and guaitai (bizarre fetus), three discursive terms in Mandarin Chinese for queer. These terms, as different translations of the word queer, were adopted in the 1990s by gay people in Taiwan as self-affirmative appellations to fight against homophobic parlance from the mid-1970s onwards.

The paper consists of three parts. In part one, I will present a historical account of various terms in Chinese societies referring to homosexuality or being homosexual until the 1990s, including both local epithets like boli (glass) and gei lou (gay man), and translated pathological terms tongxinglian/tongxing’ai (same-sex love). Part two describes the occasions when local intelligentsia and gay community started to use tongzhi, ku’er, and guaitai for self-affirmation and public destigmatization after the concept of queer was introduced to Taiwan. A new analytical framework, known as lexical contact nebula, will be adopted to examine the origins of those words and their lexical correlation with several Japanese terms for queer. The last part argues that translation of queer as tongzhi, ku’er, or guaitai aspires to differentiate from earlier discursive terms. However, in coining such neologisms, the translators have, in the meantime, resurrected the attributes that they tried to dissociate from.


Queer identity


Between the Brackets: Queer Theory in German

Robert Gillett (Queen Mary University of London)



The dissemination of queer theory can be seen as paradigmatic for globalization. Rooted in the United States, queer has been exported in forms that still bear the marks of their origin, but have been adapted to the receiving culture. For historical reasons, German culture has been particularly receptive to foreign influences. Accordingly, one of the very first translations of Gender Trouble was into German. The resulting debate about queer is specifically German. 

The contention of my paper is that one of the best ways to understand this particular ‘Sonderweg’ is to look at what has been translated, and how. If Butler was translated early, Eve Kosfsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet is still not available in its entirety in German. This is partly because queer is more closely allied with feminism in Germany than it is with gay problematics. Related to this is the fact that the word ‘closet’ simply gets translated as ‘Versteck’, ‘hiding-place’, whereas the Butler translation uses bilingual approximations such as ‘Geschlechtsidentität (gender)’. Accordingly, Andreas Kraß distinguishes between terms which he carries over into German (‘eindeutscht’) and those for which he found a German equivalent. Kraß then offers German translations of texts by Gayle Rubin, Teresa de Lauretis, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Judith Butler. In seeing how these translations enact Kraß’s distinction, I believe I will be able to shed important light not only on Queer theory in its German guise, but also on central issues of translation. 




Queer Lives in Translation: The Case of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and Herculine Barbin

Brian James Baer (Kent State University)



With the spread of gay liberation movements worldwide, biographies and autobiographies of queer individuals have found international audiences. While the translation of these queer life stories into multiple languages would ostensibly affirm the universality of a queer consciousness, a close examination of the packaging of these queer lives reveals radically different conceptions of queer subjectivity and political agency. To illustrate this point, I will examine various translated editions of the memoirs of the twentieth-century East German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf and of the nineteenth-century French hermaphrodite Hercule Barbin. Special attention will be paid to the paratexual material accompanying the translations.


Queer theory
Queer autobiography


Queering Translation Studies: Translation as a Site of Textual, Sexual, and Cultural Dissidence in Queer Francophone Writing Emerging from the Maghreb

William J Spurlin (Brunel University)



This paper examines the ways in which francophone gay and lesbian writers from the Maghreb, such as Rachid O, Abdellah Taïa, and Nina Bouraoui, foreground translation and narrative reflexivity around incommensurable spaces of queerness to index their negotiations of multiple languages, histories, cultures, and audiences. These highly complex textual and political strategies respond to the fact that the writers considered are now living in France, and that Maghrebian spaces of queerness are now increasingly inflected by globally-circulating discourses and embodiments of queerness whilst simultaneously destabilising cultural norms around gender and sexuality in the Maghreb and in the West. The paper argues that the writers considered are not simply mimicking the language of their former coloniser, but that a form of compositional translation is operating in the production of these works within the same language, whereby the writers are inflecting the French language with vocabularies and turns of phrase indigenous to North Africa as a site of decolonisation. Furthermore, translation of their works into English reveals that the very act of compositional translation enacts a transgressive practice that disrupts and destabilises, producing new, unassimilable circuits of linguistic and cultural difference that defy straightforward, untroubled translatability. These spaces of l’intraduisible, are not superfluous residue to be discarded, but sites of supplementarity that point to translation as a queer praxis. The paper then considers the ways in which the liminal spaces where languages and cultures touch serve as broader metaphors for the negotiations and crossings of gender, sexual, geopolitical, and other social borders.


Queer translation
North Africa
Border crossings


Back to Top




PANEL 12: Advances in Discourse Analysis in Translation Studies: Theoretical Models and Applications

Panel Organizers:
Jeremy Munday (University of Leeds)
Binhua Wang (University of Leeds)
Meifang Zhang (University of Macau)

Discourse analysis in its various forms (language use above the sentence, meaning-making in whole texts in specific social and cultural contexts) deals with the entire act of linguistic and cultural communication and the construction and representation of identity. It has long been applied in translation studies to explain the expression of ideology and to track the translator/interpreter’s cultural intervention. This panel is the continuation of the successful discourse analysis panel at IATIS 5 and the roundtables held in Macao (2012), Leeds (2014) and the University of New South Wales (2016). It aims to take stock of recent developments in the field and to explore, through the methodologies of discourse analysis, how cultural intervention is conducted in translation and interpreting.

While we are open to paper proposals in any aspect related to the panel theme, we particularly welcome submissions for the following areas:

  • Manifestations (linguistic and other) of translators’/interpreters’ cultural intervention.
  • Analysis of different types of multimodal and audiovisual texts.
  • Analysis of interpreting and of the interpreter’s positioning.
  • The development of new models and the enhancement of existing models of discourse analysis in translation studies.
  • The construction of identity in translation.
  • Translated discourse in institutions.
  • The translation of media, social media and political discourse.
  • Markers of appraisal/evaluation and the interpersonal meta-function.
  • Discourse analysis as a means of identifying audience interpretations.

Above all, we hope that the wide range of potential contributions will open up interaction with other panels around the main theme of the conference.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Jeremy Munday is Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. His specialisms are: linguistic translation theories, discourse analysis (including systemic functional linguistics), ideology and translation, and Latin American literature in translation. He is author of Introducing Translation Studies (Routledge, 4th edition 2016) and Evaluation in Translation: A study of critical points in translator decision-making (Routledge, 2012).

Binhua Wang is currently Associate Professor and programme director of MA Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies in the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. Previously he was assistant professor in the Centre for Translation Studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and associate professor and head of the Department of Interpreting at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. As a specialist in English/Chinese interpreting, he is Fellow of the “Chartered Institute of Linguists” (CIOL) and expert member (Fellow) of the “Translators Association of China” (TAC). His research interests lie in various aspects of interpreting and translation studies, in which he supervises PhD students. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in interpreting and translation studies including nearly 40 in refereed CSSCI/Core journals and SSCI/A&HCI journals such as InterpretingMetaPerspectives and Babel, and over a dozen in peer-reviewed collections. He has also authored a monograph (A Descriptive Study of Norms in Interpreting, 2013), co-edited a collection (Interpreting in China: New Trends and Challenges, 2010) and co-translated the book Introducing Interpreting Studies into Chinese (2010).

Meifang Zhang is Professor and coordinator of MA in Translation Studies at the University of Macau. She is Vice President of the Macau Federation of Translators and Interpreters, and council member of the Chinese Translators’ Association. She is also a life member of the Hong Kong Translators’ Society, and a member of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies. She was organizer of the First International Conference on Discourse and Translation (2002 Guangzhou), the International Round Table Seminar on Discourse and Translation (2012 Macao), and co-organizer of the 2014 International Round Table Seminar on Discourse and Translation (2014 Leeds), as well as of the Panel on Innovation in Discourse Analytic Approaches to Translation Studies at the 2015 IATIS (Belo, Horizonte, Brazil). Meifang has published widely in translation and intercultural studies. She is now co-editor of Babel: International Journal of Translation and serves on several editorial boards of refereed journals. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 12:

Construing (Im)politeness in German and Greek Translations of English Children’s Literature

Themis Kaniklidou and Juliane House (Hellenic American University)


In this paper we examine how (im)politeness is construed in translations of several English children’s books into German and Greek. First, we provide a brief overview of the literature on (im)politeness. Here we discuss shifts from utterance-based models to contextually-based, situated theorizations of (im)politeness as discourse practices (Haugh 2013). In the discourse approach, (im)politeness is positioned under the umbrella of interpersonal interaction and ‘relational work’. This is the approach underlying the study reported in this paper. Following a review of the literature on translated children’s books, we describe the texts to be analysed and present contrastive discourse analyses of selected extracts from these texts that reveal divergent constructions of (im)politeness. Preliminary findings show that similarities and differences along English, German and Greek discourse preferences can also be isolated in the translations examined. The dimensions indirectness vs directness and use of routines vs ad hoc formulations seem to be of particular relevance here. Finally, some explanatory hypotheses will be put forward linking our results to overt and covert translation types (House 2016).


Translated children's literature


Grammar as Covert Intervention: Agency in Translating Chinese Government Reports into English

Hailing Yu (Hunan University)



The process of translation is a process of making choice. In this study, I will focus on the choice of the grammatical category of AGENCY in the official translations of Chinese government reports into English, and how ideology enters the translations in a subtler way through grammar.

AGENCY in Systemic Functional Linguistics relates to the external causal origin of the process. In the system of AGENCY, a clause can be either Middle, where the process is presented as happening by itself, or Effective, where the process is presented as being caused by an agent.

About 4,000 clauses taken from the Chinese government reports in the years 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2017 and their English translations were analysed in SysFan, a computational tool for systemic functional analysis. The findings show that while the realisation of AGENCY remains nearly the same in translating the Plan sections of the reports, there is a stable increase of about 20% in terms of Effective clauses in translating the Review sections into English. It is argued that, in the English translations, allocation of AGENCY to the government (though implicitly) in reviewing the work done in the past year functions to highlight the effort and contribution of the Chinese government in promoting the country’s economy and improving people’s lives. This is especially so when the achievements are presented in Middle voice, through which things ‘just happened’ in the source text. In this way an ideological consideration intervenes in the translation through the grammatical choice of AGENCY.


Government reports
Systemic functional linguistics

Investigating Interpreter Positioning via Engagement and Graduation Resources: A Case Study of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s 2018 Press Conference

Xin Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)


Political press conferences addressed to the international media by central government leaders or representatives play a significant role in the communication of a country’s national policies and stances to the international media, yet the crucial role of interpreters in these political communicative events has not received enough attention in the academia. Drawing on appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005) and following Munday’s (2015) call for examination of engagement and graduation resources as markers of translator/interpreter positioning, this paper attempts to investigate the institutional interpreter’s positioning through a detailed analysis of the reconstruction of engagement and graduation resources in the interpreting of the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s press conference in March 2017 for the fifth Session of the 12th National People's Congress. The inter-textual analysis between the ST and two TTs (TT1 is the self-transcribed version based on the live broadcast on TV and the internet, while TT2 is the official transcript released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) reveals a more complex picture than Munday’s (2015: 419) “distancing” and “downscaling” hypothesis. It is argued that interpreter’s engagement and evaluative positioning is affected by factors including the participation framework (Goffman 1981), the directionality and the real-time nature of interpreting.


Interpreter/translator positioning
Political press conference
Appraisal theory

Intervention and Positioning in News Translation: A Corpus and Survey Based Discourse Analysis Model

Li Pan (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies)



Intervention and positioning, concepts of subjective implications, seem to be contradictory to the ‘objectivity’ or ‘impartiality’ claimed in journalism. However, like any other kinds of information, accounts, or narratives of happenings, news discourse can hardly be free from subjectivity. When it comes to news translation, although the general public expects no intervention and subjective elements in the transformation of information from one language to another, there is no such guarantee in actual practice (Bielsa and Bassnett 2009). To explore the intervention and subjective elements like positioning in news translation, this paper builds up an analytical model from both micro- and macro-dimensions by integrating Appraisal Theory (Martin and White 2005) developed from Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday 1994) and the three dimensional Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) model proposed by Fairclough (1995). The object for analysis is a self-built corpus of news reports on the Lhasa riots by English mainstream media and their Chinese translations by Reference News (Cankao Xiaoxi). An empirical survey of the news agency’s translation practice has been conducted to explore the institutional as well social impact on the intervention and positioning in translating China-related news. It is hoped that the combination of corpus- and survey-based analysis will be useful for future related empirical research on positioning and translating news discourse between different ideologies and cultures.


Institutional practice
Discourse analysis model
Corpus and survey based


Representations of Hong Kong in News Translation: A Corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis

Yuan Ping (University of Leeds)



The representations of Hong Kong in news media are complex, dynamic and multifaceted, including various aspects of its culture, economy, politics, and so forth. Since the handover of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to the Chinese mainland in 1997, significant media attention has been drawn to several socio-political incidents or issues which occurred in Hong Kong. The media in post-colonial Hong Kong has been addressed by numerous scholars in media and communication studies. However, the role played by translation in the media has almost been completely overlooked by translation studies and media communications. This study seeks to investigate how Hong Kong is represented through the translations of news articles which are published in the mainstream press. It first adopts a corpus-based approach in comparing the collocations, concordances and keywords of the original discourses with those of their translated versions; then analyses the framing which is constructed in the translated discourses; and finally discusses the socio-cultural factors that influence the translation practice. The corpus is composed of English and Chinese news articles on several key events in recent years and the translations of these articles which are released in a range of newspapers from the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States. This paper concludes that the media outlets may follow some consistent patterns in terms of lexical choices and adopt different strategies to (re)frame aspects of the news reports, which reveal the hidden stances of the translators or the newspapers towards the subjects.


Critical discourse analysis
Hong Kong
News translation


Reframing Narratives in News Reports: A Case Study of the Chinese Trans-editing of News on Belt and Road Initiatives

Binjian Qin (University of Macau)



This paper investigates reframing narratives in the Chinese trans-editing of news reports on China’s Belt and Road (B&R) initiatives. Employing the framing strategies described by Baker (2006) in her application of Narrative Theory in Translation Studies, this study examines the English and Chinese versions of news on China’s B&R initiatives with the aim of finding out how Chinese trans-edited news is reframed for different target readers. The English data are collected from international news portals such as Reuters, BBC and The New York Times. The Chinese versions are from mainstream Chinese media such as Reference News (参考消息) and (环球网). The analysis shows that the trans-editor adopts different framing strategies when rendering the narratives from English to Chinese for different target readers, and the stance of the news reports is shifted through the reframing process. This paper argues that the main possible constraints for the deviation are target readership, political situation and the political position of the news agency.


News transedition
Belt and Road


Critical Analysis of Political Discourse and Translation: Context and Persuasion

Meifang Zhang  (University of Macau)



In political contexts language or rhetoric is often used by one party to persuade another to accept a point of view. Rhetoric and persuasion are inseparable, although they are not identical. Persuasion refers to the act and intention as well as effect of changing an audience’s thinking, while rhetoric is used when we want to focus on how persuasion is undertaken linguistically. In the past decade many scholars have researched political discourse; however, very few have touched upon the role translation plays in political communications, and still fewer have included Chinese context and discourse in their studies. 

This paper sets out to examine political discourse and translation in relation to the present-day Chinese context, with special focus on political rhetoric used by President Xi Jinping in his public addresses. A small corpus of Xi’s public addresses and their translations has been collected for analysis. A critical approach is adopted in this analysis of political rhetoric and its translation. The analysis focuses on three aspects: (1) the analysis of the speech context, (2) analysis of rhetorical means, (3) and discussion of the persuasive effect and social purpose of the speeches. The paper also investigates what translation methods are most commonly used in translating the rhetorical means and discusses possible reasons for this choice.


Political discourse
Critical analysis
Context and persuasion


Translations of Public Notices in Macao: A Multimodal Perspective

Xi Chen (Macau University of Science and Technology)



Public notices are released by the government or other institutions to give information on what they are planning to do and what they have done, to draw the public’s attention to phenomena and their contexts, or to call for people’s cooperation. They can be divided into single-mode and multi-mode notices. The former only contain written text, while the latter usually include written text and image and are widely used in our daily life. In multimodal public notices, text and image are no longer independent semiotic systems, but cooperate to achieve meaning potentials. At present, most of the studies on public notices translation only focus on the language level. This paper aims to investigate the translation of public notices in Macao from a multimodal perspective. With a self-built corpus of multimodal public notices, based on visual grammar (Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996, 2006), it first examines the visual realization of the interpersonal function in the images of public notices, and then analyzes the verbal realization of the appellative function in the translation of public notices. Finally it discusses multimodal cooperation between language and image in public notices. It is hoped that this study can provide references for future research in this field.


Visual grammar
Public notice translation
Appellative function
Interpersonal function


Positioning the ‘Voice’: An Integrated Corpus and CDA Approach to the Inter-semiotic Renditions in Conference Interpreting

Fei Gao (University of Leeds)



Verbal communication is inextricably linked with paralanguage, such as volume and pitch; rendering the paralanguage thus becomes crucially important in interpreter-mediated communications (Pöchhacker, 1994). In international conferences, speakers from diverse etymological and cultural backgrounds convey meanings via projecting their ‘voice’ in speeches. The meanings embedded in the acoustic and auditory properties of their ‘voice’, nonetheless, either fail to be rendered or are subjugated to shifts by conference interpreters. How the vocal values are interpreted sheds nuanced light on how interpreters position themselves vis-à-vis the speakers and the institutional powers. Informed by the tone and tonicity systems (Halliday, 2008), the present study ventures into this rarely charted water through describing and interpreting how the pitch contours and vocal intensity in the ST are rendered inter-semiotically into actual words or sentences in the TT. The triangulation of shifts from one mode into another, therefore, enables extrapolating the patterns and establishing trends pertaining to the shifts in relation to ideologies and stance-taking on the part of speakers and interpreters. In addition to the acoustic analysis, the strengths of CDA and the corpus approach are synergised to enable the investigation in the present study.


Conference interpreting
Auditory properties
Inter-semiotic rendition


Promoting Diversity in Audiovisual Texts: Representation of Identity in Multicultural Sitcoms for Tweens from an SFL Perspective

Marina Manfredi (University of Bologna)



The paper aims to explore issues of representation of identity in a relatively new (sub-)genre in the field of audiovisual translation (AVT), namely multi-ethnic/multicultural sitcoms for a younger audience, or ‘kid-coms’. It will make use of the tool of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Halliday 1985/1994; Halliday and Matthiessen 2004/2014) to analyse the three different strands of meaning realized in AV texts.

As Munday and Zhang (2015: 329) point out, there has been a growing interest in the analysis of AVT from an SFL perspective (e.g., Bednarek 2010; Piazza, Bednarek and Rossi 2011; Taylor 2017), even though most contributions concern subtitling (e.g., Taylor 2000; Mubenga 2010; Espindola 2012). This paper will rather deal with dubbing, working with the English-Italian language pair, not only because Italy is historically a dubbing country, but also because AV products addressed to a younger audience tend to be dubbed all over the world. The analysis will focus on recent multicultural sitcoms for ‘tweens’ (i.e., How to be Indie, 2009-2011, 2 seasons; Jessie, 2011-2015, 4 seasons, and its spin-off, Bunk’d, 2015-). Even though Steemers (2016: 54) argues that “children's television stands out as one of the most globalized” translation products, this paper aims to see whether televisual products that reflect a multicultural vision of society show a different concern for representation of identity and instead endorse a postcolonial perspective, where “the translator is no longer a mediator between two different poles, but her/his activities are inscribed in cultural overlappings which imply difference” (Wolf 2000: 142).


Systemic functional linguistics
Audiovisual translation


Chinese Political Concepts across Spaces – A Discourse Analysis Based on the Multi-Composite Corpus of China’s Political Discourse

Binhua Wang (University of Leeds)



The present study examines how Chinese political concepts represented in the political discourse of the Chinese government are re-contextualized in English. It explores the following questions: a) How are Chinese political concepts presented through institutional translation and interpreting by the Chinese government? b) How are China’s political concepts reconstructed by Western media? c) What are the differences between the presented concepts in institutional translation and interpreting by the Chinese government and the reconstructed concepts by Western media? 

Through corpus-based discourse analysis into the Multi-composite Corpus of China’s Political Discourse composed of the “Parallel Corpus of Translated / Interpreted Political Discourse of China” and the “Comparable Corpus of China’s Political Discourse in English”, it uncovers the linguistic manifestations of cultural and ideological intervention through the agency of translators/interpreters and through the agency of public media. The study is also expected to shed light on new models of discourse-analytic translation studies in the corpus-based approach.


Chinese political concepts
Institutional translation and interpreting
Western media
Corpus-based discourse analysis
Cultural and ideological intervention


Discourse Analyses and the Translation of Religions: Re-examining Commensurabilities

Hephzibah Israel (University of Edinburgh)



My presentation examines what types of discourse analysis might be most useful for studying the encounters between religions in the context of European colonization. I argue that contact between European and South Asian languages in sacred text translation cannot be studied adequately with a straightforward focus on text-linguistic approaches. Drawing on Foucauldian discourse analysis, I suggest that in translation situations where individual lexical terms are re-assigned new semantic values to distinguish acceptable from non-acceptable forms of religious practice and beliefs, it is important to analyse discourse as a governing structure that informs the conditions within which linguistic translations can be conceived and undertaken. I unpack differences in terminology and metaphors from South Asian languages and religious cultures to examine how translations of sacred texts by European Orientalist scholars, missionaries and by Indian scholars were structurally influenced by Eurocentric translation discourses on commensurability and faithfulness. This conceptual translation question is as important as the linguistic since it is intrinsic to the way religions were viewed, compared and categorized, so that whether sacred terms were deemed to be translatable into other languages often determined whether newly encountered faiths were considered a ‘religion’ in colonial India. Referring to the debate on ‘colonial discourse analysis’ proposed along Foucauldian lines by Said (1978), I examine the usefulness of this approach for a study of the translation of sacred texts in colonial contexts and whether some aspects of formal discourse analysis from translation studies can serve as a useful methodology to ground colonial discourse analysis.


South Asia
Foucault and discourse analysis
Colonial discourse analysis


From “Glacial Weight” to Underlying Movement: A Corpus-Based Methodological Proposal to Explore Tempo-Spatial Mobility

Maria Calzada Perez (Universitat Jaume I)



The European Union is a hotspot for “diverse mobilities of peoples, objects, images, information and waste; and the complex interdependencies between, and social consequences of, these diverse mobilities” (Urry 2000:1). As a result, every study of the EU would do well to pay heed to Greenblatt’s (2009: 250-253) manifesto on cultural mobility, which recommends the shedding of light on “hidden as well as conspicuous movements” (Greenblatt 2009:250). Along Greenblatt’s lines, the EU may be seen to host flows of literal and metaphorical movement, especially at institutional “contact zones” (Greenblatt 2009:251) such as the European Parliament (EP), where individual and structural encounters are not only regulated at large, but implemented within its immediate context. Amongst the various types of metaphorical movement identified at the EP contact zone, the present paper focuses on that of the (original and translated) informational flow across time and space. With the aid of innovative tools from modern diachronic corpus-based studies that have been scarcely used up to now in translation and interpreting studies (most notably, Paul Baker’s “lockwords”) and with the assistance of the European Parliament Comparable and Parallel Corpus (ECPC) archive (see Calzada Pérez 2017), this paper puts forward a methodological protocol to explore apparently static “moments” (as per Laclau and Mouffe 1958/2001:113) that hide the underlying mobility of “floating signifiers” (Laclau and Mouffe 1958/2001:113) in their voyage through discourse, with the belief that “it is impossible to understand mobility without also understanding the glacial weight of what appears bounded and static” (Greenblatt 2009: 252).


Corpus-Based Translation Studies
Modern-Diachronic Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies
European Parliamentary speeches


Positioning of Military Interpreters: Based on two Sino-US Joint Military Exercises

Qianhua Ouyang (Guangdong University of Foreign Studies)



This study explores the positioning of interpreters in joint military exercises, a politically sensitive setting. Mid-term consultation conferences of two episodes of Sino-US disaster-relief joint military exercise (year 2014 & 2016) are analyzed in this research to compare how different institutional roles of the interpreters and the broader bilateral relations between participating countries influence the positioning and discourse practices of the interpreters. A corpus of the transcribed recordings of the conferences is built and inter-textual analysis is conducted based on the framework of Narrative Theory (Baker 2006). Semi-structured interviews with two military officers in charge of the events and questionnaire surveys with interpreters are carried out to triangulate findings from the inter-textual analysis. Initial results suggest that military interpreters position themselves not only as professional interpreter but also a representative of its home institution, hence plays expert, assistant and mediating roles in the process of interpreting. And the degree of shift from the positioning as a professional interpreter per se is influenced by the military rank of the interpreter, sensitivity of topics in discussion and the general institutional strategies of the events. 


Military interpreting
Interpreter positioning
Narrative Theory




Back to Top




PANEL 13: Interpreting, Translation and English as a Lingua Franca (ITELF)

Panel Organizer:
Michaela Albl-Mikasa (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences)

The global spread of the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has obvious repercussions on translation and interpreting. While international contacts in the 20th century were predominantly established and maintained by means of translation and interpreting, the 21st century is marked by an overwhelming use of ELF. The challenge is not that interpreters and translators are made redundant, but that the number of source texts and source speeches produced in nonnative English is growing exponentially. The proposed panel looks at the academic study of ELF in relation to translation and interpreting (T&I). The study at the intersection of Interpreting, Translation and English as a Lingua Franca (ITELF) has only been emerging over the last 10 years. Combining research into ELF with interpreting and translation studies, it investigates the consequences of the growing importance of ELF for the translation and interpreting professions, for individual translators and interpreters as well as for T&I processes.

The focus of this thematic session is ITELF in a rather broad sense in order to gather the studies and findings in an as yet small subdiscipline.

Topics presenters are invited to address include:

  • The wider (socio-economic) impact on the profession in terms of market developments
  • The immediate effects on cognitive processing (difficulties, decisions, strategies, performance)
  • Changing perceptions and attitudes regarding the translator’s/interpreter’s status, role, and self-concept
  • ITELF-related developments in the EU (e.g., the introduction of an editing unit by the DG Translation)
  • ITELF-related developments in non-EU regions of the world

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizer:
Michaela Albl-Mikasa is Professor of Interpreting Studies at ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. She holds degrees from the universities of Heidelberg (Dipl.-Dolm. In Conference Interpreting), Cambridge (MPhil in International Relations) and Tübingen (Dr. phil. in Applied Linguistics). Her research and publications focus on ITELF (interpreting, translation and English as a lingua franca), the cognitive foundations of interpreting, the development of interpreting expertise, and medical interpreting. She is involved in professional development courses for community interpreters as well as collaborative projects with Asian partners, namely the ASEAN-based Association of Asian Translation Industry (AATI) and China’s Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). She is a member of the European Network of Public Service Interpreting (ENPSIT) and the English as a Lingua Franca Research Network (ELF-ReN). She is also a member of the recently elected Executive Council of IATIS (International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies)


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 13:

ELF and Translation/Interpreting

Michaela Albl-Mikasa (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences)



The global spread of the use of English as a lingua franca (ELF) has obvious repercussions on translation and interpreting. While international contacts in the 20th century were predominantly established and maintained by means of translation and interpreting, the 21st century is marked by an overwhelming use of ELF. The challenge is not that interpreters and translators are made redundant, but that the number of source texts and source speeches produced in nonnative English is growing exponentially. While ELF has been widely discussed in applied linguistics generally, its impact on translation and interpreting has not received the same attention.

The first presentation of the panel looks at the academic study of ELF in relation to translation and interpreting and provides an overview of the investigations and preliminary results so far achieved within the emerging subdiscipline of ITELF (Interpreting, Translation and English as a Lingua Franca).


Conference interpreting
English as a lingua franca (ELF)
Interpreting and translation and English as a lingua franca (ITELF)


How has Interpreted English Changed? -- A Corpus-based Study of Chinese Premier Press Conferences from 2006 to 2015

Nannan Liu (University of Hong Kong)



With ever-growing interaction and integration between China and the rest of the world, the dominance of English as a lingua franca (ELF) means that interpreters may face a changing language environment. This research reports how interpreted English in Chinese Premier Press Conferences has changed from 2006 to 2015. It employs the methodology of descriptive and comparative corpus linguistics to uncover how the stylistics of the interpreted language, its closeness to the source, and underlying interpreting strategies have evolved over time. Through comparisons among the interpretations and between source texts and target texts, changes have been detected with regard to parts of speech, use of metaphors, greeting words, interpreting strategies, and the influence of the source on the original etc. Based on statistical exploration of recurring patterns in the corpus, it is found that a) government interpreters are opting for more colloquial and native expressions over formal and clumsy ones, b) explicitation and addition are becoming interpreters’ top choices to clarify policy stance, c) the interpreted language might see less “carryover” from the original Chinese, but more influence of English media and international interaction. Drawing on empirical methods from corpus and historical linguistics, this study could serve as a tentative exploration to describe the changes of the interpreted language, and point to the implication of ELF on interpreting and China studies.


Interpreted English
Corpus linguistics
Press conference


Quality Perception in Simultaneous Interpreting: When English Is the Source Language

Andrew Cheung (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)



Because the English language is a commonly taught foreign language in numerous countries, many conference attendees understand English, to varying degrees. Simultaneous interpreting (SI) into a local language is sometimes provided at conferences that are conducted in English. Those who understand English may choose to listen to SI as a support. Conference attendees’ motivations for listening to SI vary. In a conference room where SI is provided, those who require the service can listen to SI via headsets, but the speaker’s source language can still be heard acoustically through the public address system. The provision of SI helps listeners to understand speakers who speak languages incomprehensible to them. However, some SI users who understand English may listen to SI from English into a local language as a support (Vuorikoski, 1993). Some rely on SI to understand a source language that is entirely unfamiliar to them. 

This paper will report the findings of an experiment designed to investigate whether SI users who understand the speaker’s language perceive SI quality differently from SI users who do not understand the speaker’s language. Specifically, the presentation will focus on the results of a quality perception survey of SI in two conditions: (1) when the source language is English; and (2) when the source language is Russian. 


Simultaneous interpreting
Quality perception
English as the source language


Frequency Effects of Lexical Bundles Processing in C-E Consecutive Interpreting: A PACCEL Corpus-based Approach

Yang Li (Northeastern University)



This study integrates the classifications and analytical framework of 4-words lexical bundles (LBs) proposed by Biber (2004, 2009) in corpus linguistics. Based on PACCEL, Chinese Students’ Interpreting Corpus, it explores into frequency effects on the tokens, types and distribution of LBs. LBs have three classifications, namely, verb phrase fragments, dependent clause fragments, noun and prepositional phrase fragments. Meanwhile, LBs are analyzed into fixed (≥50%) and variable (50%) slots, which are calculated by the percent of the target word in the total filled words in each slot. furthermore, LBs are grouped into strong, medium and weak prototypes based on the number of variable slots that represent to which extent the slots are fixed and efforts are required to process the bilingual transfer. Therefore, concordances are retrieved to make further analysis on interpreting strategies by using LBs.

In total, it retrieves 186 LBs with the cumulative frequency of 3393. The findings are: 1) there is a significant difference among three classifications of LBs; 2) the prototypes are mainly composed of strong and medium ones with the Power-law distribution; 3) the continuous fixed slots in LBs can save attention in bilingual processing. Also, the study regards LBs as an unmarked interpreting strategy that will improve the fluency of interpreting. Finally, taking frequency effects in chunk processing, it discusses on the orality of interpreting, the characteristic of using LBs, duality and psychological reality.


Lexical bundles
Frequency effects
Chinese-English consecutive interpreting
Student trainees


Translanguaging and Translation in Spoken and Written ELF Discourse

Juliane House (Hellenic American University)



Research on English as a lingua franca (ELF) has until recently focused almost exclusively on spoken ELF discourse. Research on written ELF discourse is thus a desideratum of the first order. In this paper I investigate and compare oral and written ELF discourse, and relate the findings to the phenomena of translanguaging and translation. Concretely, I draw on the corpus of oral ELF interactions of the Hamburg project “Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in University Education’ (cf. House 2016). Here participants frequently resort to translanguaging as a resource for creating effective, audience-designed messages. 

For written ELF, I draw on a corpus of abstracts and papers recently submitted for electronic publication. The analysis of these ELF texts produced by speakers of many different languages shows that a majority seems to be translations from the authors’ L1. In this paper I only take account of texts by authors with German or Greek as L1. Unlike the instances of translanguaging, the translations are not directly visible, they can only be reconstructed . The analysis covers not only lexico-syntactic but also structural and textual phenomena. The paper provides many examples of both oral and written ELF discourse. In conclusion, I emphasize the need for further ELF research into different modes. 


House, Juliane 2016. Own Language Use in Academic Discourse in ELF. In: K. Murata ed. Exploring ELF in Japanese Academic and Business Contexts. London: Routledge, 59-70. 


English as a lingua franca



Back to Top




PANEL 14: Exploring Cultural Mobility through Visual and Performance Art

Panel Organizers:
Gabriela Saldanha (Birmingham University)
Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University)

Performance and visual artists have started to engage with translation and interpreting as a theme and using translation as a tool to reflect their aesthetic and political concerns with cultural mobility, understood both as a force of ‘dislocation and displacement’ and as an opportunity for ‘dialogue and encounter’ (Sheller & Urry, 2005: 208). Grounded in a wide range of theoretical approaches (such as postcolonialism, deconstruction and field theory) and using very different art forms, artists are exploring some of the key questions that occupy translation theorists. Connelly’s (2015, 2016) practice-based research uses text, sound and live-performance to explore translation both as an embodied, subjective and collaborative process, whilst also interrogating other artists working with this subject – such as Holmkvist and Zdjelar – in an attempt to provoke new ways of thinking about translation. Holmkvist reflects on power relations in interpreting using film and Zdjelar explores the role of multilingualism in subject and identity formation using video and performance. Other relevant work is that of Heather, who uses multilingual choral compositions to celebrate the work of interpreters, and Vidal and Chamarette, who employ slightly different means, intersemiotic and inter-artistic translation, to explore whether an interest in foreign languages can be developed through the ludic use of art. The range and quality of the artistic work opens up avenues for public and political engagement with monolingual and multilingual audiences in a way that is beyond the reach of the translation studies academic community on their own. The aim of this panel is thus to open up a dialogue between artistic practice and translation so as to enable a more comprehensive exploration of the material and performative complexities of translation and interpreting, probing the potential of artistic practice to create new knowledge or present existing knowledge in a new light. The panel offers a space where academics can respond to such artistic and inter-artistic practices, exploring the role of art in relation to current concerns in translation studies. We also encourage contributions from practitioners wishing to discuss the conceptualization of translation and interpreting in their work and how it fits within contemporary translation studies research. Topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Heterolingualism as an artistic tool
  • Translating art across languages and cultures
  • The role of the translator/interpreter in the art work
  • Communicating translation through artistic practice
  • Embodying/Visualizing translation and interpreting
  • Engaging with new audiences through transdisciplinary work
  • Translation as a performance art
  • Translation myths in the arts/Art myths in translation
  • Stabilizing meaning in intersemiotic translation

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Gabriela Saldanha is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham. She is co-author, with Sharon O’Brien, of Research Methodologies in Translation Studies and co-editor, with Mona Baker, of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Her main area of research is translation stylistics and she is currently working on a monograph provisionally entitled Translation as Performance to be published in 2019 by Routledge.

Cristina Marinetti is a Lecturer in Translation Studies at Cardiff University. She has written on translation theory in relation to identity and performance, on drama and multimedia translation and on the interface between translation theory and practice. Her most recent EU-funded project W.I.S.E., a partnership between educational institutions and the cultural sector, explored the relationship between language, identity and memory through story-telling, translation and performance connecting communities in Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK ( 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 14:

The Customer Is Always Wrong: Translation Strategies for a De-centred Art Practice

Bill Aitchison (Nanjing University)



This paper will outline the role and operation of translation in the performance The Customer Is Always Wrong, an original multi-lingual performance art work developed through a residency at the CEAC, Xiamen. I will elaborate upon the porosity of the performance to site and languages. I will then describe how a de-centred international performance practice can sit in opposition to dominant forms of international mobility. Specifically, I will look at how the performance reframed dominant notions of British identity by being situated in Southern China. I will describe the role daily language exchanges played in the work’s research as these were a significant site of investigation into the way language shapes identity, such as through discovering the range of meanings a word conveys or the relationship between grammatical structures and societal structures, and they were also essential to understanding the context. I will move on to the writing and staging process in which the show was divided into chapters which, like language textbooks, introduced new vocabulary and accompanied words with physical gestures. I will look at the strategies by which the state of having only a partial understanding of the context and languages of Xiamen was reproduced for the show’s audience. Here I will focus on the role translation played, whether it be using a live translator and/or using subtitles, and how the deliberately imperfect translations that were used further underlined the sense of uncertainty and play that came to characterise British identity as the performance unfolded.


Performance art


The Work of Translation in Chicana/o Performance Art

Marlene Esplin (Brigham Young University)



In this paper, I briefly approach translation in the context of seminal multilingual performances by Chicano performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his performance troupe La Pocha Nostra, and I examine the role of translation in the works of lesser known Chicana visual and performance artists such as Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Sylvia Salazar Simpson, and Isabel Castro. Each of these artists employs translation as a theme and as a means of communicating the aesthetic, semi-autobiographical, and socio-political concerns of their work. They draw their audiences into the various acts of translation or rewriting that drive their creative work and carefully stage the conflicts and confluences of identity that permeate the contested space of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In their performances and works of visual art, the politics of language become participatory. These artists present translation both as a cultural barrier and as an opportunity for engaging and challenging their respective audiences. I explore ways in which they dramatize the cross-cultural aspects of their works and foreground the negotiations between English and Spanish that are incumbent upon them. I ask how translation creates productive tensions in their visual and performative works of art and examine how these works, in turn, reflect on the work of translation. 


Visual art


Translation Zone(s): Art and Translation Ideal Partners or Strange Bedfellows?       

Heather Connelly (University of Lincoln)



This presentation will consider my own transdisciplinary art/research practice in relation to cultural mobility by discussing examples from my ongoing research project Translation Zones, a series of events, projects, art works, texts and activities that brings monolingual and multilingual individuals together to examine art-and-translation as a transdisciplinary practice. The works use text, sound and voice to explore ‘interlingual’ translation, and draw upon linguistics, intercultural communication and second language acquisition. TZ aims to create conditions for encounters with translation, conceiving translation as an event where intercultural communication is explored in its multiplicity, and acts of translation as uncertain, fuzzy and provisional. Whilst to many this is a given, however for monolingual speakers this is not often problematized. The term ‘zone’, borrowed from Emily Apter (2006), also emphasises the movement inherent within the prefix trans in translation and points towards the precarious nature of translation, which is always in the process of becoming. 

I will present specific examples of how my art practice uses linguistic translation as a method to interrogate translation itself and outline the important role of the dialogic ‘Other’ within my practice, how and why I collaborate work in a participatory manner with translators, multilingual speakers, experts and lay people and how my work seeks to go beyond the realm of representation. I will conclude by contextualising the various ways I employ translation - as a medium to make work, as an embodied and performative act - within translation theory and finish with a provocation and call to action. 




Documenting Process: ‘Thick’ Approaches to Visual Art and Translation

Anna Milsom (University of Leicester)



Mary Snell-Hornby credits Gideon Toury with first using the term ‘interdiscipline’ to describe translation studies (2006: 71), and talks about its subsequent adoption as the key-word of the Vienna Translation Studies Congress back in 1992. Since then, a good deal of research in translation studies has taken an actively interdisciplinary approach, seeking to open up the boundaries between diverse areas of academic enquiry in a reciprocal give and take of ideas and methodologies. At its most positive, then, interdisciplinarity can be seen as an opportunity to seek out links and common ground and to share creative practices. This paper explores the potential for such positive interplay between translation and visual art, focusing on practice-led research and particularly on some of the ways that process may be documented and described. A number of specific art and translation projects are examined to show how this concentration on representing process can both form and enrich the final product, whatever shape the artefact itself may take (e.g. written text, art installation, interactive screen-based media). It is posited that one particular notion – ‘thick translation’ (Appiah, 1993/2004) – can usefully be drawn upon in these discussions, and that translation may indeed benefit from taking a ‘visual turn’ (Milsom, 2012), giving readers and audiences new ways of accessing and engaging with language, culture and text.


Practice-led research
Visual arts
Thick translation


How Language Moves

Marianna Maruyama (Dutch Art Institute)



Without limiting my focus to linguistic translation, my artistic practice overlaps with translation discourse, its theoretical background and concerns such as essentialist and constructivist theories of culture, self and other, and translation and original. This theoretical tradition spans from Walter Benjamin to Homi Bhabha to Judith Butler and Jean-Luc Nancy, among many others. Translation is experienced in daily life on micro and macro scales, interpersonally and politically; it becomes acutely present with the rise of fundamentalist ideologies and whenever we find ourselves at a distance from ourselves, as well as from people, places, or things we perceive to be other. 

If translation is a form of critical reflection, and integral to everyday life, then how does the vehicle called translation move? Where does it pause and which areas does it frequent or avoid? Who or what makes it visible? My multi-modal artistic practice could be described as being situated in a condition of “permanent translation” (Rada Iveković, Transeuropéennes, 2002). As Iveković describes it, translation has the potential to be a transformative process of decentering, involving the removal of oneself from a central position (linguistically, psychologically, spiritually or otherwise). I take on this challenging proposition by working with the very process of translation (across languages, cultures and media), while closely involving and depending on the people taking part in the work.


Permanent translation
Multi-modal practices


Translating Art Across Languages and Cultures: Taking r:ead as an Example

Li Fen Wang (National Chiayi University)



An acronym for Residency, East-Asia and Dialogue, the program “r:ead” aims to generate discussion and build up a network among artists and curators who “traverse borders between body, image and language in order to engage with society today in each of their countries.” Whilst East-Asia is embedded in its name, this artist-in-residence program reflects its regionality by languages rather than by state entities: “r:ead is focusing on the regions where Chinese, Korean and Japanese are spoken as mother tongues and used in daily life” ( Moreover, r:ead asks artists and curators to express in their mother tongues, making Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin and Taiwanese Chinese), Korean and English working languages. Therefore, interpreting (specifically, relay interpreting) and interpreters have been essential roles in the success of r:ead over the past five years. 

On the basis of interviews with interpreters of the #5 r:ead program, whose theme is “Myth, History, Identity”, I tentatively argue that r:ead creates an artistic, multilingual and political arena where interpreters with various backgrounds have to constantly de-/re-construct their identity as a certain language user and the cultural and national identities contingent to the language(s). That is, translation/interpreting practice forces a r:ead interpreter to challenge his/her taken-for-granted identities, crack open a heterogeneous space in his/her knowledge body about identity and further testify to Naoki Sakai’s (1997) argument about translator’s subject being in transit.


Residency East Asia and Dialogue Program
Subject in transit
Translation and subjectivity


Talking Transformations. An Exhibition of Inter-Art Translation.

Manuela Perteghella (Independent) and Ricarda Vidal (King's College London)



Our inter-artistic project Talking Transformations ( explores notions of ‘home’ – challenged and reshaped by unprecedented migration - through translation, film art and poetry, all of which underline the fluidity of the concept of ‘home’. We look at the impact of migration on notions of home by commissioning and sending poetry about aspects of one’s own ‘home’ into a linguistic and artistic ‘migration’, where poems are translated into different languages and into film art. Poetry and artwork travel to and from the countries most important to EU migration into and out of the UK: Poland and Romania, and France and Spain. In Britain, Deryn Rees-Jones created the poem about ‘home’ from material collected from workshops in Hereford and London. Rafał Gawin wrote the Polish poem, based on material collected at a workshop in Lodz. The project generates cross-media migration routes for both literary and visual artwork and their culturally and linguistically diverse practitioners. The project culminates in two exhibitions in the UK in 2018. We are proposing to send the exhibition of filmic poem-translations to IATIS in Hong Kong, where these can be shown on monitors (or projected on walls, or on screens, in a loop). There are 7 films of 3-5 mins each. As the conference coincides with the Ledbury Poetry Festival 2018 in the UK, where we will be both curating our project, we would like to offer a live streamed presentation – perhaps via Skype - followed by poetry reading and Q&A session.


Intersemiotic translation
Poetry translation


Dog is Dog

Saskia Holmkvist (Oslo National Academy of the Arts)



The presentation will turn around 4 works of mine; On Translation (2008), Tautology in Act (2010), Transference (2016), and Dog is Dog (2017) that all deal with performative, social, cultural and power structures of the role of the interpreter. My argument will depart from an understanding that the neutral interpreter is an impossible position and through the work I explore this question by working directly with interpreters as performers, creating a meta level to discuss the role of the interpreter but also the agency of the situation they are situated in and how this affects the embodiment of such a performance. The works retool the aesthetic strategies of documentary with performative interaction to focus on verbal speculation by the subjects invited directly from their professional fields.

In later works, resistance within translation has become a key element to explore. How can the interpreter create a room for subjectivity and agency through their presence in the dialogue? To explore this I have collaborated with choreographers and given both the interpreter and the choreographer the same task: to interpret a room at the same time, with people passing through using their respective tools, i.e body and language. Dog is Dog is a performance with interpreters who position themselves as activists, questioning the codes of ethics within interpretation through a performative dialogue on how the activist position can be made through the modulation of voice, body and adding details for a better understanding of the transcultural and political interface of a given situation.


Performance Art and embodiment
Translation and interpretation
Professionalized languages


Back to Top




PANEL 15: Translation and Citizenship: Communication and Mobility in (Emerging) Multilingual Democracies

Panel Organizers:
Bieke Nouws (KU Leuven)
Heleen van Gerwen (KU Leuven)
Marie Bourguignon (KU Leuven)

Throughout history, more often than not governments have had to deal with populations composed of more than one language group. It was from the late 18th century onwards, however, that multilingualism was increasingly considered an issue in Europe. Enlightened and Romantic nationalists often dreamed of a shared, national and official lingua franca, yet reality still involved a lot of translation, with the translation sector possibly even reaching a zenith in many emerging and centralising 19th-century nation-states. Inter- and intranational mobility of individuals across language borders complicated administration, challenging policy makers to enable the mobility of ideas and information despite these borders, as modern, self-respecting states owed to themselves – and still do. Democratic participation, equal access to public services and equal treatment before the Law are but a few features of such states, and of supranational regimes such as the EU, that require adapted language and translation policies, given the inevitable discordance between (ever changing) language groups and national borderlines.

This panel wishes to lay bare and compare the various roles allocated to translation by democratic policy makers, and to explore in particular how translation was put forward (or rejected) as a means for promotion or impediment of social, political and cultural mobility and the circulation of information and ideas. Papers may include studies on translation policies in democratic nation-states or supranational regimes with democratic aims. We welcome studies on cases from all over the world and from the perspective of different research fields (translation studies, linguistics, history, political science, law...). Possible topics are listed below, but we will also consider other proposals that deal with translation in (emerging) democracies:

  • Translation as political legitimation.
  • Translation as a means of communication between government and citizens.
  • Translation and the development of a 'civil society'.
  • Translation policies supporting certain (democratic) language policies.
  • The 'need for translation' and 'right to translation' as themes in political discourse.
  • Translation between unequal language groups (diglossia).
  • Democratic regimes, the ideal of 'one language for one nation’ and the role of translation.
  • Democratic regimes and the idea of a 'lingua franca'.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Bieke Nouws holds an MA in history from the University of Antwerp and is currently preparing a PhD on translation politics in 19th-century Belgium at the University of Leuven. Her topics of interest are modern parliamentary history, Belgian history and the study of political language and discourse in the 19th and 20th century.

Heleen van Gerwen holds an MA in Western Literature from the University of Leuven. In her PhD research, she studies translation and transfer practices in the legal and administrative domains in Belgium (1830-1914), and their influence on the development of a Flemish legal language and culture.

Marie Bourguignon obtained MA degrees in Journalism and Law at the Université catholique de Louvain. In October 2015, she started preparing a PhD about formal and informal regulations on translation and other initiatives by the authorities to manage the need for translation and translation practices. Special attention is dedicated in her research to translation and notaries.

We are all three members of KU Leuven’s Translation and Intercultural Transfer research group and together, combining expertise from different disciplines, we try to unravel the mysteries of translation policies, politics and practices in 19th-century Belgium (1830-1914). The project is supervised by Literary and Translation Studies scholars Drs. Lieven D’hulst and Reine Meylaerts, and Human Rights Law professor Dr. Koen Lemmens. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 15:

Translating and Interpreting for Ethnic Minority Migrants in China: A Policy Study in Areas Mainly Inhabited by Han Chinese

Shuang Li (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)



In multi-ethnic China, where pronounced language and cultural differences can be found easily, language work is an indispensable part to promote participatory citizenship and foster social integration. To bridge the language gap, on the one hand, Mandarin Chinese has been promoted as a national and official lingua franca throughout the whole country. On the other hand, ethnic minorities' language rights and their rights to translation services in public domains are explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and other national laws. However, China's marked increase in urbanization and population mobility has brought new challenges to both policy makers and non-Mandarin-speaking citizens. In fact, the past years have witnessed an increasing number of migrant workers from ethnic communities, many of whom have migrated from rural areas to urban areas in the hope of improving their social and economic well-being. However, many of them have encountered language difficulties, which remain one of the barriers to their fuller integration into the urban society (Guo and Zhang, 2010). Therefore, translation is often involved and plays a vital role in the interactions between non-Mandarin-speaking ethnic migrants and local governments. This paper, through a case study of ethnic minority migrants in the top four Han Chinese cities (i.e. Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu), intends to investigate how China's current legislation on translating and interpreting for ethnic linguistic minorities in judicial settings, local government administration and other public domains has been implemented in reality and what can be done to improve the situation.


Ethnic minority migrants
Translation policy
Areas mainly inhabited by han chinese



“We Can Let Them Do”: the (Non-)production of Texts in Italian by Swiss Political Parties

Véronique Bohn (Université de Genève)



Italian has been a national language in Switzerland since the very beginning of the Confederation. As such, it has the same status as German and French, and yet, voices regularly point out the fact that it is often forgotten or neglected in the political sphere. The study we have carried out on the periodicals published by four Swiss political parties for their members shows that, very often, the general secretariats of the national parties do not offer an Italian version of their periodicals, thus seemingly confirming the criticisms frequently heard. In our communication, we would like to reflect on this situation. Referring to semi-structured interviews we conducted for a wider project, we will present the stance adopted by people in charge of the periodicals towards Italian: how do they conceive the communication in Italian in the broader context of the Swiss national cohesion? In the discourse of our interviewees, three dimensions can be singled out. First, the socio-demographic situation seems to be of paramount importance, as the Italian-speaking community is a minority compared to the German- and the French-speaking ones. Secondly, the geographical location of the Italian-speaking community is mentioned, whereas the latter is associated mainly with a single administrative unit in the context of the Swiss federalism. This point is strengthened by, thirdly, the idea that the community lives in a specific political situation different from the rest of the country, asking for a particular communication work.


Political communication
Political parties
National cohesion



Translation between Kurdish and Turkish: The Case of two Publishing Houses, Avesta and Lîs

Bilal Çelik (Boğaziçi University)



This paper explores how translation shapes and reflects the relation between Kurdish and Turkish cultures focusing on translated works published by two Kurdish publishing houses in Turkey, Avesta and Lîs. Kurdish has been subject to repressions and bans in different periods of the history of Turkey, which, as a result, led to an unequal relationship with Turkish. However, especially after lifting of some of the restrictions on Kurdish in the 1990s, the publications in Kurdish language relatively increased and this movement accelerated as of the 2000s. During this period, there has been relatively an increase in the number of translations from Turkish into Kurdish or vice versa as well as from languages such as English, German, Swedish, French and Arabic. This situation also shows that Kurdish translations are used as a means of disseminating and legitimizing Kurdish culture and identity. This paper will specifically examine translations between Kurdish and Turkish in order to demonstrate the hierarchical but still legitimizing role of translation for Kurdish language. Thus, I will focus on two Kurdish publishing houses, Avesta and Lîs, based in Istanbul and Diyarbakir, respectively and leading the translation movement accelerated in the 2000s. Analysing the works translated between Kurdish and Turkish from 2000 onwards by both of these publishing houses and their translation policies, this paper will reveal the role of translation as a means of legitimizing and disseminating Kurdish language and culture.


Kurdish and Turkish translation
Translation Policy 


Transitioning from an Authoritarian to a Democratic Regime: Thai Translations of George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Gritiya Rattanakantadilok (Prince of Songkla University)



Historically, amid political turmoil in Thailand, translation becomes a tool employed by the oppressed. This study seeks to explore ideology of individual translators and publishers and how ideology is conveyed and presented paratextually in translations. There seems to be a translation tradition of Orwell’s best-known novels in Thailand in response to domestic political clashes. There are ten translations of Orwell’s Animal Farm and the retranslated text was issued after a coup d’état or a major power shift. Its translation and re-translation were published in 1959, 1972, 1975 (two versions were published that year), 1977, 2001, 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2017. 

The translation and re-translation of Animal Farm can be seen as an intolerant act against authoritarianism, a reaction to coups that ousted elected governments. To a certain degree a series of coups in Thai politics influenced decisions made by publishers and translators on literary works they could and should market. 

Since paratext is a threshold or an undefined zone between the inside and the outside (Genette, 1997, p. 2), it can reveal influence on reception and contribution to the meaning of the translated text. Providing a bridge between the ST author and the TT reader, book covers, back covers and prefaces, which represent and re-position the text across languages, cultures, and times, will be investigated. This study will examine three paratextual elements employed by the translators and publishers in all ten competing versions in the market to reveal the translators’ and publishers’ ideological motivations.


Literary translation
Translator’s visibility


Back to Top




PANEL 16: Interpreting in Conflict-related Scenarios

Panel Organizers:
Lucía Ruiz Rosendo (Université de Genève)
Marija Todorova (Hong Kong Baptist University)

Conflict between parties with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds is pervasive in human history and has always involved interpreters in the sense of intercultural and linguistic mediators. In the last decade, the important role played by interpreters in situations of conflict—in the events leading to such conflict, and in dealing with its aftermath—has been gaining increased interest among translation studies scholars and scholars from other fields. In this particular context, interpreters are not just enablers of communication by transferring content from one language into another; they are actors embedded in the communicative situation, and active partners in the process of communication.

Although interpreting became highly professionalized from the second half of the twentieth century, language brokering in conflict zones is still an unregulated occupation mainly pursued by untrained interpreters. Also, there is a lack of recognition of the specific role that interpreters in conflict situations play, including military interpreters, locally-recruited interpreters working for the military, interpreters working for humanitarian organisations, among others. The lack of regulation and recognition makes it difficult to design specific training programmes in interpreting in conflict-related settings. In fact, there is a need for specific elements to be more clearly defined, including the position of the interpreter in the communication process, the interpreting tasks to be performed, the skills needed to perform the job successfully, the type and extent of conflict-related training to be provided to interpreters, the type and extent of conflict-related duties that would be expected of the interpreter and, last but not least, issues related to ethics and neutrality.

The aim of this panel is to shed light on the positionality, status, neutrality, ethical issues, training issues, and working practices and procedures of interpreters in conflict zones in the different stages of the conflict. This panel especially welcomes research in the areas of interpreter positionality, ethics and neutrality in conflict zones with a special focus on working with vulnerable populations such as refugees, internally displaced people, minority populations, etc., in different regions and contexts.

Possible topics might include, but are not restricted to:

  • The positionality of the interpreter
  • Limits of neutrality
  • Ethical issues related to interpreting in conflict-related scenarios
  • Intercultural awareness for interpreters who work in conflict zones
  • Role of interpreters in conflict resolution and transformation
  • Specific training programmes
  • Interpreting for refugees, internally displaced people, vulnerable populations, etc.

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
Lucía Ruiz Rosendo studied Translation and Interpreting at the University of Granada. In 2006 she completed her doctoral work in conference interpreting. She worked as an interpreter trainer and researcher at the University Pablo de Olavide from 2004 to 2015. In 2015 she was appointed assistant professor at the FTI. Her main areas of research are interpreting in conflict zones and scenarios, simultaneous interpreting in the scientific field and interpreter training.

Marija Todorova holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the Hong Kong Baptist University and PhD in Conflict and Development studies from Skopje University. She has taken part in the establishment of the Translation Programme of the University American College Skopje, where she has taught in translation, interpreting and intercultural communication. In 2007 she was the recipient of the National Translation Award. Marija is an Executive Council member of IATIS. She is currently Adjunct Scholar at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Centre for Translation. 


Accepted Abstracts of Panel 16:

Regaining the Voices of Bystanders. A Research-translation Project on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah.

Magda Heydel  (Jagiellonian University)



I will present a research project concerning the problem of interpreting in Lanzmann's Shoah. In the international version of the documentary the voice of Polish bystanders virtually disappears: the interpreter’s version radically simplified as compared to the speech actually produced by Lanzmann’s interviewees is a basis for subtitles, an important material in international Holocaust studies. 

The project consists of transcribing the actual words uttered in the film and providing an annotated English translation supplemented by a commentary on the cultural background, peculiarities of language, performative action, psychological situation of the speakers. The results are presented as chart organized along the timeline of the film so it is possible to compare the linguistic material of the original and the interpretation/English version. 

The results obtained so far highlight the differences between source and target material but more importantly open space for questions concerning the role of extralingual elements in translation; shed light on the use of translation in the process of history and memory management or manipulation, especially in conflict-related or sensitive contexts and offers an interface between translation and memory studies. The project is also a performative action returning agency to bystanders, reconfiguring subject positions and giving insight into the problem of witnessing genocide. Hence it looks from the TS perspective on the issue of bystanding, approaching the post-traumatic memory in multiethnical/multicultural communities. In my presentation I will focus on the question of regaining the subjectivity and voice of the bystanders as a translation and ethical problem. 


Claude Lanzmann
Memory studies
Polish language


UN Interpreters in Conflict Zones in the Middle East

Cherine Haidar Ahmad (United Nations)



The work of United Nations interpreters who operate in areas of conflict in the Middle East has not been very deeply explored in academic research and remains little known among other professionals in the field. Research into the role of UN interpreters has, in fact, focused chiefly on those who work in formal settings far away from the field. It is true that an increasing number of academic studies have addressed the topic of interpretation in times of conflict, particularly following the Iraq war of 2003. Nonetheless, the profile of UN interpreters in areas of conflict in the Middle East remains obscure and their role has not been sufficiently clarified, either in academic literature or in UN public documents. The aim of this communication is to present the first findings of a lengthier undertaking by analyzing the original sources such as UN documents and the direct testimony of interpreters and users of interpreting services, to learn how interpreters prepare for their missions, what rules they must respect, what specific practices they resort to and what challenges they face. The ultimate goal is to contribute to research on the specific role of interpreters who work in conflict zones, particularly in the Middle East, under the auspices of one of the international organizations with a stronger presence in that region.


UN interpreters
Middle East


Interpreting for the UNHCR in Macedonia: Then and Now

Marija Todorova (University American College Skopje)



The important role played by translators and interpreters in situations of conflict, in the events leading to such conflict, and in dealing with its aftermath, has been gaining increased interest among translation studies scholars in the last decade. This paper will provide a summary of the relevant research in the area of interpreting in conflict zones with a special focus on working independently, comparing the work of interpreters to shuttle mediators. I will argue that in these particular situations interpreters are not just enablers of communication by transferring content from one language into another. Moreover, they are active partners in the process of mediation and advocacy for the vulnerable. 

The relevant theoretical framework will be supplemented by the personal experience of interpreters for UNHCR in Macedonia and Kosovo during and immediately after the Kosovo crises in 2000. The article will look critically issues arising during mediation with the Macedonian border police at the Macedonian-Kosovo border, and interpreting for the Ashkali Roma population. 

The presentation will further compare the situation of interpreting for the refugees in Macedonia during the current refugee crisis at the Macedonian-Greece border in 2015/2016, and the role of UNHCR interpreters, based on an interview with UNHCR Arabic and Farsi interpreter engaged in providing assistance to the mainly Syrian refugees.


Shuttle interpreting


The Representation of the Interpreter in Intractable Conflicts: Y al final, la guerra, Aunque caminen por el valle de la muerte and Zona hostil

Lucia Ruiz Rosendo (University of Geneva)



Focusing on Y al final, la Guerra (Silva and Francisco, 2014), Aunque caminen por el valle de la muerte (Colomer, 2017), two novels based on interviews to Spanish soldiers that describe the Spanish military intervention in the Battle of Najaf (2004), and Zona hostil (Martínez, 2017), a film based on actual events on the Spanish military intervention in Afghanistan, the presentation will discuss the results of a qualitative study that investigates the representation of interpreters in Spanish war literature and film. The premise of the study is that interpreters in the escalation stages of a conflict tend to be ordinary citizens who have been directly confronted with the conflict events and who have developed a certain ideology that constitutes a basis for the perception and interpretation of reality. This in turn has a direct influence on the interpreter’s positionality. The study considers the literary works as a compendium of ontological narratives and the film as a fictional narrative, and identifies and explores the passages describing the interpreter. The findings show that interpreters are depicted as common individuals embedded in the conflict whose previous experiences have shaped their understanding of the war. Interpreters are considered as outsiders not only by the military personnel, who show a certain level of mistrust towards the interpreters, but also by the local citizens who are against their new role of interpreters for the “invaders”. The analysis raises other relevant issues such as the importance of the interpreter on the front line and the interpreter’s protection.


War literature
War film


Sociolinguistic Analysis of International Conflicts: The Limits of Neutrality

Yolanda Moreno (University of Alcalá)



This article showcases part of the results of an international doctoral study at University of Alcalá (Madrid) and Université Saint-Joseph (Beirut). The research presents a sociolinguistic analysis of interpreting in conflict zones argues the limits of neutrality when interpreting in the field. 

The hypotheses are gathered in the following points: 

  • Migratory flows and military-civilian’s encounters increase the need of intercultural mediation. 
  • The asymmetric relations between the army and the civil population. 
  • Geopolitical interests and use of interpreting in the contractor’s benefit. 

This study focuses on the practitioners' perspective regarding neutrality when interpreting in conflict zones and how this affects the communication in the field. 

Empirical data have been gathered through qualitative analysis of indicators signs of asymmetry by conducting interviews and ethnographic observation of soldiers and interpreters in conflict zones. The following indicators have been analyzed: incoherence within discourse, conceptual mappings and perception of violence, socially constructed roles and relations of power within the war context, propaganda and linguistic manipulation. 

Ultimately, this research will try to establish the training needs of the interpreters in conflict zones as well as the essential strategies that they should be aware of in the context of their own autonomy, thus, making way to new research and specific training, adapted for them. 

The article shares the results and engages the audience to learn new interpreting theoretical frameworks and the interpreters’ personal experiences in order to provide the interpreting tools for the development of the interpreter’s autonomy. 


Conflict zones
Interpreter's autonomy


Identity, Positionality and Ethics: Military Interpreters Evaluated in Post-war Narratives

Tian Luo (Chongqing Jiaotong University)



Although military interpreters play indispensible roles in wars fought between armies speaking different languages, very few researches have been done to reflect on interpreters’ identity, positionality and ethics as well as the relations among them. To address this issue, the present paper firstly proposes a hierarchical framework to analyze interpreters’ identity, positionality and ethical issues. It then takes the case of military interpreters who worked for different armies during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Specifically, the research data is gathered from about 50 texts of post-war narratives, including the fictional and non-fictional, those by the interpreters themselves and those by other parties. To examine how they are evaluated, Appraisal Theory is drawn upon for the textual analysis and a qualitative research analytical software Nvivo is used. The findings demonstrate the complexities military interpreters encountered in conflict situations: from the multi-faceted changing identities, to the power-structured positioning within military institutions, and to the culturally and ideologically defined ethical dilemmas. At the same time, there is a great difference of evaluation on identity, positionality and ethics between narratives by the self and those by the public, between the fictional and non-fictional narratives. They also suggest that all the three issues are in a constant change during and after the war. Finally, the paper reveals the importance of rethinking the evaluation on military interpreters.


Military interpreters


Back to Top




PANEL 17: Translation-Oriented Localisation Studies (TOLS): New Trends, Future Challenges

Panel Organizers:
Jesús Torres del Rey (Universidad de Salamanca)
Silvia Rodríguez Vázquez (Université de Genève)
Lucía Morado Vázquez (Université de Genève)
Emilio Rodríguez Vázquez de Aldana (Universidad de Salamanca)

The idea of localisation as a merely business-driven activity to reach international markets, as was the case when it emerged in the 1980s, has traditionally moved certain scholars to regard it as a separate area of knowledge from the already well-established Translation Studies. Over the last years, however, technology has dramatically shaped not only the translation profession in terms of processes, as reflected in the recently published IATIS Yearbook (Kenny 2017), but also regarding the nature, form and context of reception of the texts and products that need to be rendered multilingual, predominantly digital. Within this digitalised space, the boundaries between translation and localisation are now more blurred than ever, as the ultimate goal of the latter is to overcome communication barriers (linguistic, cultural and technical) facilitating a successful access to and user experience with multilingual content in digital, interactive and online platforms and devices.

Translation-Oriented Localisation Studies (TOLS) seek to provide an answer to this new reality by defining localisation as a translation-oriented technology-intensive task. In other words, TOLS’ approach to the localisation of digital products is two-fold: (i) it takes into account the concerns and the analytical aspects of the translation profession and discipline –the study of the product, process, function and applications of localisation, the cultural and linguistic transfer, and the communicative action; and (ii) it integrates, at the same time, key concepts and best practices from neighbour technical disciplines, including Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)-related fields, which are gaining ground as essential disciplinary companions (Torres del Rey and Rodríguez Vázquez 2016). In this context, we will promote discussions about cutting-edge theoretical and/or empirical research work covering new trends in the localisation profession (technology, products, processes) or addressing the challenges that these may lead to in terms of localisation training, knowledge and know-how, translators’ identity, socio-professional position and (dis)empowerment, localisation professionals’ social and cultural goals, and the target end user experience.

This panel will welcome contributions on (but not limited to) new trends and future challenges related to the following localisation topics:

  • Automation in Localisation Workflows (methods, tools, processes)
  • Localisation and Crowdsourcing
  • Localisation and Technical Content Management
  • Localisation Education (academic, institutional, methodological issues)
  • Localisation, Usability and Accessibility
  • Machine Translation and Localisation
  • Multilingual Digital Content Production Strategies: Globalisation, Internationalisation, Transcreation
  • Profiles, Roles and Interdisciplinary Cooperation in Localisation Projects
  • Quality in Localisation (methods, tools, processes)
  • Standards of Localisation and Interoperability
  • Web, Software (including mobile applications) and Game Localisation

For informal enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bio-note of Panel Organizers:
All conveners are members of the Interuniversity Cod.eX Research Group (

Jesús Torres del Rey is a senior lecturer at the University of Salamanca, where he teaches a number of translation technology, project and terminology management and localisation subjects both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He also teaches software localisation and is module coordinator for localisation engineering in a Master’s degree course by the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Seville. In 2003 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Salamanca for his thesis on technology and translator education. He is the author of La interfaz de la traducción (Granada: Comares, 2005) and the author, co-author or co-editor of a series of articles and book chapters on translators’ technological training, computer tools for education, localisation and translation technology, accessibility and standards, digital lexicography, neology and technological interfaces between language service providers and scientists. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Interuniversity Cod.eX Research Group.

Silvia Rodríguez Vázquez is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Translation Technology (TIM) of the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting (FTI) since June 2017. Before rejoining the FTI, where she had previously worked as a research and teaching assistant (April 2011-March 2016), she spent 12 months as a SNF post-doc fellow at Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland. During her stay, she collaborated with researchers from the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies (CTTS) and the ADAPT Centre. Her research interests include multilingual web accessibility, controlled language, localisation training and the accessibility of translation technologies for people with disabilities, topics about which she has published extensively over the last years. Silvia holds an MA in Translation Technologies and Localisation from the University Jaume I, Spain, as well as a Joint Doctoral Degree in Multilingual Information Processing and Translation and Intercultural Mediation by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and by the University of Salamanca (USAL), Spain, for which she has recently received the USAL Extraordinary Doctorate Award.

Lucía Morado Vázquez is a research and teaching fellow at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Geneva, on the areas of localisation, computer-assisted translation tools and information technology. Lucía also collaborates with other universities and international institutions as a course facilitator, research collaborator and external examiner. Similarly, she regularly participates as a reviewer in scientific committees of international conferences and specialised publications in localisation and translation technologies. She has been voting member of the XLIFF (XML Localisation Interchange File Format) Technical committee for more than eight years and the XLIFF Promotion and Liaison Subcommittee since its establishment. Lucía holds a PhD in localisation from the Localisation Research Centre, at the University of Limerick, Ireland and a BA in translation and interpreting from the University of Salamanca, Spain.

Emilio Rodríguez Vázquez de Aldana is a lecturer at the Department of Computer Science and Automatics, working at the Faculty of Translation and Documentation, University of Salamanca, where he has been teaching a series of Information Science and Translation modules over the years. His main teaching and research activities have been related to information retrieval and natural language processing, and, currently, translation technologies and localisation. He is the main developer of Falang2XLIFF, an application facilitating the localisation of web content created in Joomla!, a popular Content Management System. 



Accepted Abstracts of Panel 17:

Usability and Accessibility Features in a Multimodal Translation Tool

Carlos S. C. Teixeira and Joss Moorkens (Dublin City University)
Presented by: Sheila Castilho



This presentation reports on the results of a usability study of a browser-based translation and post-editing tool that accepts multiple input modes. The tool was conceived to be used by professional translators and includes standard features that may be deemed necessary for integrating translation memories (TM) and machine translation (MT) synergetically. Its distinctive features include the option of using touch and voice commands, in addition to the typical keyboard and mouse commands. Another important feature is the inclusion of accessibility principles from the outset, with the aim of improving translation editing for professionals with special needs. 

In order to assess whether the usability and accessibility features included in the tool translate into improved performance and user experience, we carried out an experiment with a varied cohort of participants, including three blind translators and seven non-blind translators, who worked under four different conditions: traditional input (keyboard and mouse), traditional + touch input, traditional + voice input, traditional + touch + voice input. Using translation process research methods, we analysed whether the different input modes had an impact on translation times and user satisfaction, as well as on the strategies used by participants for correcting common MT errors, such as word order or capitalisation, as well as for repairing TM matches. 

The findings will help understand how the possibilities offered by the newest technologies can improve the translation process from the user’s perspective and will inform future stages of the tool’s iterative development.


Translation tool
Multimodal input
User experience


The Internationalizer as a Software Development Mediator

Luis A. Garcia Nevares (University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus)



Programmers have been the starting point on mostly all research regarding software internationalization (Abufardeh, 2008; Murtaza and Shwan, 2012; Venkatesan, 2008; Young, 2001). These software engineers have proposed strategies, frameworks, architectural models, and guidelines to insert globalization and internationalization strategies into the analysis and development of multilingual software systems. Nonetheless, their perspective is often limited by the lack of understanding regarding the complexities of translating languages and culture. We propose a collaboration of an expert in languages and intercultural mediation that will enrich the software development cycle by including the localizer’s point of view during this process. This “internationalizer” is a localizer that approaches programming as an expert in languages and intercultural mediation, as an expert that understands the problems within localization’s “black box” and who is also prepared to participate during the processes that takes place before translation. The “internationalizer” has all the knowledge and skills to enable him to become part of a software development team from the beginning all the way through to the final stages. He can also address culture-related HCI and usability problems that can arise during the development process. His knowledge and presence will help integrate into this process the necessary requirements that will enable and ease software localization and improve user acceptance, when a decision is made to launch the application into other markets that have diverse linguistic, legal, and cultural needs. In this century, mainly guided by communication, it is unthinkable to develop software that only attends to the needs of a single market.


Software development
Interdisciplinary cooperation


Localization of Corporate Websites from a Multimodal Perspective: With Special Reference to Corporate Websites Targeting the Chinese Market

Hui Wang (Xi'an Jiaotong-LIverpool University)



A preliminary review of papers published in translation journals within the past 10 years also shows that a panorama of localization of globalized company websites has not yet been delineated up till now. To address this issue, the proposed research is designed to explore corporate website localization with special reference to the Chinese market from a multimodal perspective, and on this basis, help globalized companies build their corporate images and expand their overseas market by localizing their products and services on their websites. To that end, informed by Systemic Functional Linguistics and visual grammar, the research will conduct comparative linguistic as well as graphic analyes of texts on the English websites of the globalized companies and their localized Chinese websites, with reference to non-translated Chinese corporate websites. By doing so, it will unfold the configuration of corporate homepages, how and to what extent corporate homepages are localized linguistically and culturally in terms of texts and images so as to be tailored to the Chinese market, and how the interdependence between images and words influence the extent of localization. Statistics concerning consumer behavior and website sales from Google Analytics will be used to demonstrate the impact of corporate homepage localization on the website sales. Meanwhile, the research will elicit first-hand information on the real-life localization with interviews and questionnaire surveys in order to reveal the roles of translators, editors and translation commissioners in decision-making in the localization process. 


Web localization
Text analysis
Visual grammar
Google analytics


A Project-Based Approach to Training in Localization

Manuel Mata Pastor (Universidad Complutense Madrid)



This communication presents a project-based approach to training in localisation at the Bachelor's Degree in Translation and Interpreting hosted by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). The 6 ECTS credit subject "Software and Website Localisation" is taken as a case study. 

Constructivist methodological basis of this proposal are thoroughly explained and illustrated with many practical examples and evidence gathered over 10 years. Some of the key elements of this approach include students' empowerment, teamwork, 360˚ projects with real-life professional workflows, simulated market conditions, proactive feedback and blended assessment. 




Back to Top



Last modified on Thursday, 07 June 2018 04:35

© Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

Icons by