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Edward Clay

The notion of instability, which evokes an absence of stability relative to a point or state of reference, can be understood both as referring to a non-fixed position, revealing a lack of maintenance or an imbalance, and as relating to movement. In this way, instability can be defined as the character of being mobile, moving, shifting, or moveable. But instability can also be fundamentally tied to temporality, in that it can be considered as unlasting and precarious, with the potential to deteriorate or be transformed. This leads us to consider the identity of an unstable element, begging the question of how a given element can stay the same if its characteristics are continually fluctuating or evolving. In turn, we may question the idea of instability being an intrinsic or extrinsic characteristic, since a domain or an element may be unstable by nature, or made unstable when destabilized by its environment. Negative connotations can be associated with the term “instability”, especially in psychology, though it is valued in some fields. In the arts, for example, the ephemeral character of certain objects can represent a point of appeal, since instability may be seen as a creative force. By setting the scene for play and possibilities, instability provides the subject with an emancipating freedom that unleashes it from linguistic standards or from the canon, thereby contributing to the establishment of new forms of expression. Stability, on the other hand, can lead to a certain stasis, a form of immobility. It would seem, then, that stability is likened to tradition (at the root of normalization processes), while instability can be associated with transgression (which may give rise to counter-cultures). The notions of stability and instability evidently reflect different means of relating to the world.

The notion of instability therefore raises a number of questions pertinent across and within the domains of language, translation, cognition, the arts, and literature, as well as when it comes to reception.

When it comes to language, instability regarding the evolution (or perhaps disappearance) of language forms is inherent to its functioning, and may be considered in relation to the question of potential resistance to change. The instability of meaning in synchrony is instrumental in phenomena such as deixis, polysemy and homonymy, which can be examined in relation to the impact they have on mutual understanding. Functional instability is also a fundamental aspect of language, surfacing in constant recategorization phenomena (e.g. grammaticalization). One could assert that the question of instability is ultimately integral to the very system of language, since it is characterized by the necessary features of deformability and plasticity. Phenomena of variation (especially in oral speech) can be observed in the transition from language to discourse. Indeed, the alteration of set phrases and ensuing efforts to play with words in various 5 discursive productions raises questions relating to interpretation or reception. This is also the case with double meanings (innuendos, euphemisms, metaphors) which sometimes lead to fluctuating interpretations.

In the field of translation, we can question the very status and interpretative stability of the original text, since the text is always subject to new readings and new interpretations made possible by the “language of continuation” that characterizes translation. One major question lies in the degree of proximity to the source text, illustrated by the difficulties involved in translating texts featuring, for instance, humour, puns, or slogans. The translation of minority voices also provides a source of fluctuation, paving the way for the destabilization of certain ideological legacies. Furthermore, the translator’s status should be considered, as well as the potentially precarious nature of their profession, constantly facing reinvention. This reinvention is visible in the emergence of non-professional translators, but also in the rapid developments in machine translation.

The place of artificial intelligence is, more generally, a source of destabilization in certain human practices and cognitive functioning, since humans rely, consciously or not, on machines, which leads to a transformation of our intellectual mechanisms. Our attention span is also impacted by new technologies, which distract individuals, or draw them in, raising the question of free will.

Instability plays a vital role in various artistic and literary strategies. The process of destabilization in literary texts in particular comes to mind, when texts contain, for instance, unreliable narrators, self-correcting voices, enunciative and referential blurring, shifting and unclearly marked points of view. Such destabilizing aspects provide stimulus for rich experimentation and even for the reworking of myths. The very term “representation”, involving “presenting again”, may lead to reflections around the gap between the reality of the represented entity and the ensuing imagined conception, in aesthetic approaches that may or may not subscribe to a mimetic tradition. The study of the political stakes of this gap allows us to take into account the potentially subversive dimension of the work, and the ideological context of such transformations or transgressions can be examined. Literature also frequently addresses the link between memory and identity, both of which are not necessarily stable, since they can evolve and reinvent themselves, and depend heavily on stylistic choices. In the field of theater, the transition from page to stage can constitute a major source of distortion. Moreover, the question of destabilizing representations, or the established order, lies at the heart of dramaturgy and of contemporary stagings. Accordingly, representations of the threshold, of the liminal, of the in-between are of major importance for the arts and literature whose practices and limits can be redefined.

Likewise, the question of intermediality offers rich material for reflection, but can also generate forms of blurring, leading to the hybridization of genres and, sometimes, to significant tension between tradition and countercultures. In audiovisual arts (and more specifically in TV series), new means of experimentation can result in the breaking of traditional codes, giving rise, for instance, to works that challenge the usual linear order and offer unique viewing experiences by reorganizing episodes according to receivers’ individual preferences. 6 For literary texts, as well as theatrical or audiovisual productions, and even ordinary conversations, the question of reception is a domain where instability prevails. The interpretation of the works necessarily leads to individual appropriation, which is in its turn influenced by the environment of the receiver. Although certain new media outlets are attempting to influence the way in which different works are interpreted, they can also be the target of distortion.

Deadline for submissions: 15 September 2023

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Assistant Professor of Spanish Translation and Interpretation with an active research agenda in the theory, practice and teaching of Translation and Interpreting Studies. This is a nine-month, tenure-track appointment to begin August 16, 2024.

Responsibilities include:

  • Teach five undergraduate and graduate courses per year
  • Work collaboratively with colleagues to re-envision and expand our current translation program in the department
  • Engage in research and publication
  • Mentor and advise students
  • Assist the department in outreach and recruitment
  • Provide service to the department, university, and profession

For more information, click here

Deadline for applications: 25 September 2023

Transforming translation education through artificial intelligence

In the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the rapid development of online education around the world, which has also brought enormous impact to the traditional classroom teaching model of translation and interpreting majors. Furthermore, the emergence of human-machine interactive language models represented by ChatGPT since the end of 2022 has set off a new wave of artificial intelligence, with AI-generated content (AIGC) poised to become a prominent method for content production. These developments present unprecedented opportunities and challenges for translation education.

Against this backdrop, we hope to explore in this special issue the impact of technological breakthroughs in AI on translation education at the university level. Specifically, we seek to investigate: What goals and objectives of translation education should we achieve in the era of AI? How should translation educators adapt to this new trend and inspire innovation in curriculum and textbook design? How can students better learn AI-assisted translation technology to improve translation quality and efficiency? How can translation teachers use AI to innovate translation teaching methods and improve their teaching assessment and testing procedures? We also aim to explore the translation competence required for students and the career development for translation teachers to thrive in the era of AI, and examine how to navigate ethical issues and identity crises that arise from technological innovations in the teaching environment.

We anticipate that this exploration will open up new avenues for exploring future directions and prospects in studies on translation education in the era of AI. With this ultimate goal in mind, we will welcome both theoretical and methodological reflections, as well as papers based on empirical approaches.

Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Goals and objectives of translation education in the era of AI
  • Translation curriculum and textbook design with the integration of AI technology
  • AI-assisted teaching methods in translation education
  • Assessment and testing in translation education in the era of AI
  • Translation competence of students in the era of AI
  • Career development for translation teachers in the era of AI
  • Ethical issues arising from AI technology in translation education.

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Deadline for abstracts: 20 December 2023

This conference sets out to bring a diachronic perspective to the development of audiovisual translation, through a consideration of historical practices and their influence on the contemporary context. It is hoped that this will enable AVT researchers and the industry to have greater insight into future developments in the field. The need for AVT research to move beyond its comfort zone and engage in a more interdisciplinary dialogue has been pointed out, among others, by Pérez González (2019: 2).
This conference aims to widen the research horizons of AVT to include not only Media and Television Studies, but also Localization and Computer Science, Translation Technology and Machine Translation.
This international conference will provide a space for discussion and debate on the role and function of translators in the encounter/clash between tradition and innovation, between technology and human translation, between individual and collective translation practices. The symposium will explore the interaction between human and computer-assisted translation practices in the era of Machine Translation, Artificial Intelligence, and Cloud Dubbing and their impact on translation quality as well as translators’ life quality.

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Deadline for abstracts: 10 September

The United Arab Emirates University invites applications for Associate Professor position. Qualified candidates at all levels will be considered at a rank commensurate with academic accomplishments. Candidates are expected to have a strong commitment to teaching excellence and student advising at the undergraduate and graduate levels, a demonstrable research capability that will enable the candidate to develop and sustain an internally and/or externally funded research program in his/her area of expertise, publish his/her research findings in refereed journals, and actively engage in promoting the growth of the UAE University. The application package should include a cover letter, a detailed resume, a brief description of current/future research activities, teaching philosophy, and courses taught. English is the language of instruction and communication. Screening of applications will continue until the position is filled.

For more information, click here.

Deadline for applications: 15 September

About us

SELCS is a world-leading centre for teaching, research and public engagement, focussing on the literature, linguistic traditions, history, sociology, philosophy, art, film and other aspects of the cultures associated with the languages we teach (Danish, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Old Norse, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish). Our taught programmes are innovative and interdisciplinary; academic colleagues and students engage with many urgent concerns facing the world today by understanding Europe’s languages, cultures and histories and their impact globally. CenTraS is a major centre for translation studies, with a sizeable student body and a vibrant research culture. CenTraS runs two Masters programmes, the MA in Translation, and the MSc in Translation and Technology. Students taking the MA follow one of three strands: Translation Studies, Translation and Culture, or Research. Similarly, students taking the MSc can select from Audiovisual Translation (AVT), Scientific, Technical and Medical Translation, or Interpreting. Students on both programmes choose from a range of language pairs. While some language strands run on all modules each year, others run subject to student demand. CenTraS is a unit within SELCS but the language options on the MA and MSc extend beyond European languages to Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) and Arabic.

About the role

The postholder(s) will teach language-specific strands on the modules below. The post can be shared between more than one person if necessary. Candidates with expertise in only French-English or English-Arabic are strongly encouraged to apply, as are candidates with expertise in only some of the specialist areas. From English into Arabic: Scientific and Technical Translation Medical Translation Subtitling Voiceover & Dubbing Consecutive and Liaison Interpreting From French into English: Subtitling Voiceover & Dubbing In addition to teaching on the above modules, the post-holder will second-mark other translation modules, and supervise and/or second-mark translation dissertation projects in relevant subject areas. In-house training is available to extend knowledge of relevant specialist areas. This is a part time role that corresponds to 0.275 full-time equivalent.The number of contact teaching hours associated with the post is approximately 20 (0.0625 FTE) for French into English and 68 (0.2125 FTE) for English into Arabic. Interviews to be held on 20 September 2023. The successful candidate(s) will be expected to take up the position(s) on 25 September 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.

About you

The successful candidate(s) will have expert knowledge in scientific, technical and medical translation (English-Arabic), and/or audiovisual translation (French-English / English-Arabic), and/or consecutive and liaison interpreting (English-Arabic), as per the above job description. They will have EITHER Native knowledge of English and Arabic, plus fluency in French OR Native knowledge of English and fluency in French OR Native knowledge of Arabic and fluency in English. They will have a PhD in translation studies or professional experience in the relevant sector(s) of the translation and interpreting industry, a commitment to high quality teaching, and excellent organisational skills and ability to manage time and work to strict deadlines.

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Deadline for applications: 8 September 

Job description

A Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (SKO 1352) in Multilingualism is available at the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo.

The Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and is associated with the project Indigenous Language Resilience: From learners to speakers (SPEAKERS). The candidate is expected to propose a research project closely connected to the main project.

Through a comparative analysis of Sápmi and three additional cases, the SPEAKERS project investigates why and how some learners transition from learners to speakers of Indigenous or minoritized languages. In many Indigenous contexts schools are key arenas for language revitalisation; the goal of SPEAKERS is to gain a deeper understanding of what happens after students leave school. The project aims to identify and investigate key life moments or mudes that facilitate or trigger the transition from learner to speaker, compare the impact and interaction of key social environmental factors on speaker resilience, and investigate inherent tensions in language reclamation processes and how learners and speakers attempt to solve such tensions.

The postdoctoral fellow will lead one of the comparative cases, and work with other project team members on cross-case comparative analysis. The location of this case is open, and the postdoctoral fellow is encouraged to propose an individual project that builds on their previous work, while also contributing to the larger comparative project. We will consider cases relating to any minoritized language, but the project proposal must make clear how this case could inform the SPEAKERS project as a whole. The applicant must have expertise in one or more of the following disciplines: sociolinguistics, linguistics, linguistic or social anthropology, applied linguistics, education, multilingualism, and/ or Indigenous studies. Experience with fieldwork is highly desirable.  

The position is available for a period of 2 years. For postdoctoral fellows funded by the RCN, it is possible to apply for funding for research stay abroad and for funding for an extension of the fellowship period for postdoctoral contract corresponding to the length of the stay abroad (minimum 3 and maximum 12 months). The extension is dependent on an individual application from the successful  candidate.  There is no teaching or supervision requirement in this position, however if the postdoctoral fellow wants to gain experience in teaching and supervision, we aim to provide this opportunity.

The successful candidate is expected to become part of the research environment/network of the department and contribute to its development. The main purpose of postdoctoral research fellowships is to qualify researchers for work in higher academic positions within their disciplines.

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Deadline for applications: 15 September

The concept of ‘translation’ is ubiquitous in a wide range of disciplines, nowhere more so than in the Social Sciences – indeed, entire sociologies have been built on and around it (Callon 1981, 1984; Renn 2002, 2006). Similarly, the Social Sciences have always been a particularly important source of core concepts for Translation Studies, including ‘norm’, ‘role’, ‘habitus’, ‘system’, ‘profession’ and, more recently, ‘collaboration’, to name but a few. These ‘travelling concepts’ (Bal 2002) have always been of fundamental importance to Translation Studies in that they have underpinned the important shifts, or rather turns, within it. A closer look at how some of these travelling concepts are used in Translation Studies and, vice versa, how Translation Studies’ master concept ‘translation’ is used in the Social Sciences reveals that these have tended to be one-way trips. That is what this Special Issue attempts to reverse.

              Concepts in the sense of Bal (2002: 11) are understood here as dynamic in themselves as well as polysemantic, often ambiguous, closely linked to certain discourses and not so much as firmly established univocal terms. Establishing univocal terms goes along with striving for terminological precision and standardization. This task is often pursued by traditional terminological approaches (Iveković Martinis et al. 2015). Concepts are not to be confused with casual words either as academic concepts always unite entire theories or approaches behind them which they represent (Bal 2002:33).     

               ‘Translation’ is widely used in the Social Sciences. One of the most well‑known uses is certainly in Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) (Callon 1981, 1999; Latour 1993, 1994). ‘Translation’ is in fact an integral part of the lexicon and the very functioning of the theory. Broadly speaking, ‘translation’ is used there to bridge the separation between subjects and objects, and thus to overcome the dualism of sociologism and technologism. The act of translation between subjects and objects creates hybrid actors, which are the core component of networks in ANT. This theory was conceived of as a sociology of translation and/or the socio-logic of translation (Callon 1981, 1984). Though of a different kind, Renn’s (2002, 2006) sociology is similarly built on and around ‘translation’. Modern societies, fragmented as they are, depend on constant communication. Translation is essential to communication between societies’ various social and/or cultural units and therefore helps to overcome boundaries (Renn 2002, 2006). In the same sense, ‘translation’ is also used in Organization Studies in the model proposed by Carlile (2004), coming into play when a semantic boundary needs to be overcome within an organization to facilitate collaboration among various units for the sake of innovation. In yet another example from Organisation Studies, an entire translation model is developed as a way of bringing about and explaining organizational change (Czarniawska & Joerges 1996; Czarniawska & Sevón 2005). What unites these examples, with the exception of Renn (2002, 2006), is that there is not a single reference made to Translation Studies and the body of knowledge it has accumulated around ‘translation’. ‘Translation’ is a very successful travelling concept in the Social Sciences in the sense that it is widespread. However, since it is normally used as a rather loose metaphor, the concept itself frequently lacks the heuristic power it could have (Zwischenberger 2022, 2023). Translation Studies’ critical engagement with the uses of the concept of ‘translation’ in other disciplines and fields of research is a rather recent phenomenon (e.g. Baer 2020; Blumczynski 2016; Gambier & van Doorslaer 2016; Dizdar 2009; Heller 2017; Zwischenberger 2017, 2019).

Translation Studies as an ‘interdiscipline’ sui generis has itself imported massively from other disciplines, especially from the Social Sciences, but it has frequently ignored the epistemological bases of those travelling concepts. The concepts of ‘role’ and ‘collaboration’ are two cases in point. Very often in Translation Studies, ‘role’ and ‘collaboration’ either remain undefined or are simply used as concepts from everyday language. In other words, ‘role’ is equated with the ‘task’ or ‘function’ of a translator or interpreter and ‘collaboration’ is simply used as a synonym for ‘working together’. Only recently has there been a more thorough engagement with these concepts and a turn to the disciplines in which they are used as master concepts, namely to Sociology, Social Psychology and Cultural Anthropology for ‘role’ and Organisation Studies for ‘collaboration’ (Zwischenberger 2015, 2022). The same is true of a conceptual engagement with ‘profession’ and consequently also the ‘(non‑)professional’, which are very often taken for granted in the Translation Studies literature (Grbić & Kujamäki 2019). However, Translation Studies has, for example, undertaken some serious conceptual work with the concepts of ‘norm’, ‘system’ and ‘habitus’, successfully integrating them as academic concepts (Buzelin 2018)—although with quite some differences between the different subfields of the discipline.

Thus, whilst many disciplines pretty much ignore Translation Studies when it comes to ‘translation’ as a travelling concept, Translation Studies has sometimes also paid insufficient attention to the Social Sciences when adopting some of their travelling concepts. This has consequences for both Translation Studies and the Social Sciences. Travelling concepts can be vital tools for academic disciplines when properly adopted as academic concepts. Conceptual engagement lays bare the entire network within which a core concept is embedded, thus allowing a new and richer language to emerge. Ignoring the expertise that has been amassed on concepts newly adopted into a discipline hinders inter- and especially trans-disciplinarity. These travelling concepts would hardly make a round trip into the disciplines where they have an epistemological footing simply because doing so would bring no enrichment to them in their current form. This is particularly problematic for Translation Studies, a discipline that in general is less established than disciplines from the Social Sciences and beyond in terms of recognition and references being made to it outside its disciplinary borders.

This Special Issue aims to tackle this status quo. It is crucial for Translation Studies scholars to become proactive in order to strengthen their own discipline from the inside out and to become more attractive to other disciplines. One promising way of strengthening Translation Studies could be to sharpen its conceptual tools, potentially enabling analytically precise concepts to travel back to the Social Sciences and beyond, thereby inviting other disciplines to take a closer look at Translation Studies and its expertise on the concept of ‘translation’. This could then act as the basis for some inter- or even trans-disciplinarity (e.g. Bielsa 2022) in the form of round trips by the concept of ‘translation’ and concepts from the Social Sciences.

We therefore welcome conceptual-theoretical contributions that engage proactively with the uses of ‘translation’ as a travelling concept in other disciplines and/or with travelling concepts in Translation Studies and that address the following main questions (though we certainly do not remain restricted to them): 

  •  What does Translation Studies have to offer to approaches in the Social Sciences that use the concept of ‘translation’?
  • Why is Translation Studies relatively ignored by other disciplines despite its expertise with the concept of ‘translation’?
  • What do Social Sciences using the concept of ‘translation’ currently have to offer to Translation Studies? What does an engagement with the uses of ‘translation’ outside its disciplinary borders tell Translation Studies about its own conceptions of translation?
  • Which travelling concepts from the Social Sciences or beyond have so far had the greatest lasting impact on Translation Studies and why? Which travelling concepts from the Social Sciences or beyond should be adopted by Translation Studies because they hold great potential and could thus guide the way forward for the discipline’s development?
  • Is more sound conceptual work the way forward to enable Translation Studies to strengthen itself from the inside out? Are there alternative and better ways for Translation Studies to make itself more relevant to other disciplines?

Please send your extended abstract (700-800 words, excluding references) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 31st August 2023.

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To mark the 35th anniversary of the journal TTR, the conference “Redefining translation? Historical fluctuations, new practices, and epistemologies in the making” will bring together established and emerging scholars to address themes related to translation (including interpretation), terminology, and writing. Translation, together with terminology and professional writing, constitutes a complex set of practices, processes, and epistemologies that, no matter what they are called, (e.g., translation, adaptation, transfer, intertextuality, transformation), has always played a prominent role in civil society while also being used as a tool of colonization and discrimination. Translation thus raises crucial ethical issues that call for serious reflection.

Starting from the tripartite definitions of translation proposed by Roman Jakobson (1959) and Gideon Toury (1995), among others, this conference invites scholars to reflect on the (re)definitions of translation and interpretation and their ethical implications throughout history. The following questions can serve as points of departure:

Does translation (along with interpretation) only involve transfer between languages, individuals, texts, communities or nation states? Or does it also concern any material, even biosemiotic, form of transfer that may or may not include interlingual exchange? Are translation and interpretation always synonymous with transfer?

Can we move from a restricted to an enlarged view of translation while also ensuring that this field of knowledge retains its specificity and common foundations? If so, what would these be (see Nouss, 2012)?

Is translation exclusive to human beings, that is to say, does it only take place between humans? What role does or should technology play in the translation process in light of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and neural machine translation (NMT)? How do these changes affect human translation? What are the characteristics of the contemporary translating subject? To what extent can advances in AI and the ethical issues they raise enrich our analysis of the production of bilingual or multilingual content?

Given the complex power dynamics that characterize the Anthropocene, what roles can translation and interpretation play in mediating and raising awareness of contemporary issues? Clearly, the mediating role that both translation and interpretation play, whether in community settings or times of crisis, is a pressing current issue.

Insofar as translation can also be considered a cognitive act that precedes and facilitates communication despite differences, what cognitive theories can help us better understand translation and its practices?

As an interpretative act, translation is a heuristic tool that has the potential to participate in the production and circulation of knowledge. How might this potential be achieved?

This conference seeks to encourage dialogue on the important social role that translation plays in the formation and transformation of knowledge as well as in the movement and mediation of ideas.

We welcome proposals focusing on historical fluctuations (e.g., definitions of translation), new practices (e.g., linguistic revitalization thanks to translation), and epistemologies (e.g., the science of translation, hermeneutics, the interpretive school, various sociologies of translation, and complexity theory) that have defined, still define, and will define translation in the broader sense going forward.

We propose the following avenues of reflection corresponding to the three (inter)disciplines that form the title of TTR:

Translation

Inclusive translation: gender, accessibility, decolonization, Indigenization Translation, AI, and NMT: the role of humans
Translation and diversity: ethical issues
Translation, pseudo-translation, self-translation: toward new paradigms? Translation and adaptation: the limits of translation

Translation and interpretation: social contexts, crisis situations
Translation and migration: movement, displacement, uprooting, confinement Post-translation and transmediality: new forms of translation
Translation and pedagogy: what to teach and how? What is (or should be) the role of technology?
Translation and official bi- or multilingualism: increasing accessibility, equity, and diversity or maintaining the status quo?

Terminology

Socioterminology or terminology and sociology?
Terminology and interpretation: the role of terminological research
Terminology, AI, and NMT: the human contribution
Terminology and pedagogy: how to teach terminology as a key element to ensuring a more equitable society?
Translation and terminology: are they inseparable?

Professional Writing

Professional writing, editing, revision, and post-editing: are they essential relationships? Inclusive writing: diversity, gender, accessibility, decolonization, Indigenization Professional writing and terminology: are they inseparable?
Professional writing and pedagogy: to what extent has writing become an essential competence for future translators? How should new generations be trained?

Deadline for submissions: 1 October 2023

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