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Wednesday, 02 November 2022 15:00

Special Issue of Translation Spaces: Is machine translation translation? Exploring conceptualizations of translation in a digitally saturated world

Guest editors
Félix do Carmo, Dorothy Kenny and Mary Nurminen

Any contemporary investigation of advances in translation must surely take into account the rise
of machine translation (MT), acknowledging improvements in its quality and the many worthy
causes it can serve (Nurminen and Koponen 2020). But irenic engagement with the technology
does not have to be uncritical, and alongside a growing number of empirical investigations of
translation workflows that use MT, translation studies scholars have also begun to interrogate its
ethical basis (Kenny, Moorkens and do Carmo 2020). Some such studies (e.g. do Carmo 2020)
touch upon the very definition of translation, its relationship to post-editing, and the material
consequences for professional translators of industry’s sometimes self-serving construal of these
activities. But there are still only rare explorations of how we in translation studies, by embracing
MT, are changing our own understanding of translation. And studies that reflect on how, by
integrating MT into translation studies, we may be reconfiguring our field of inquiry, are even

Against this backdrop, this special issue aims to (re-)examine the field of translation studies and its
object of inquiry, in a context in which translation could be conceived of as taking many forms,
including forms that culminate in readers accessing raw machine outputs. We also wish to
generate debate on the effects of the full integration of MT, and related activities such as postediting, into translation studies as a multidiscipline, and to invite reflection on whether
incorporating MT represents an advance for the discipline or an impoverishment (if we think MT
constitutes a reduction of translation to automatable transfer). Ultimately, we seek to pose a
question that goes to the heart of the discipline: could MT be the straw that breaks translation
studies’ back, under the weight of the ongoing import of knowledge from outside, or could MT be
a golden opportunity for translation studies to reveal the value of the knowledge it has already
constructed and continues to construct on its object of study?

Deadline for abstracts: 30 November 2022

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