Convergence and collaboration in translation research

Convergence and collaboration in translation research

In an increasingly globalised world, translation and localisation are becoming more visible as practices which directly affect individual and corporate communication. They are becoming more strategic for companies and brands that care about visibility and the effectiveness of their communication around the globe. This brings new forms of work and practices for professionals, and requires more types of collaboration between the many agents in the broadly understood translation/localisation process. Such collaboration can happen online, for example between translators on platforms, offline, between different departments within an organisation, or between universities and companies that share knowledge and support research. This collaboration can be voluntary or (semi-)imposed, and it can bring opportunities and risks, empowering or impoverishing agents of collaboration, especially those at the end of the supply chain.

Research carried out in the workplace and in professional settings is vital to understanding the nature of the many different types of collaborations, and how they impact processes, products and workers involved. This session brought together researchers that are investigating new practices and forms of collaboration in professional translation, promoting the sharing of best research practices and inspiring new lines of research in this area.


Presentation 1: Distributed, extended and augmented cognition in the age of crowdsourcing: are translators truly “augmented”?

Miguel A. Jiménez-Crespo, Rutgers University

I will critically discuss how crowdsourcing and online collaborative translation relate to recent discussions on “translation augmentation”. These two distinct technology-driven approaches emerged as possible solutions to achieve better, more efficient or speedier solutions to complex problems than those that a single cognitive system can solve on its own, as well as to handle time consuming routine tasks. The introduction of 4EA approaches to cognition in crowdsourcing reframed both translation tasks (both routine and problem solving) towards a distributed and extended perspective that goes beyond the capabilities of the individual mind (Risku, Pein-Weber & Rogl 2016; Jiménez-Crespo 2017; Risku & Windhager 2020). Here, “several cognizing and not cognizing agents”, such as translation technologies, AI driven crowdsourcing platforms or adaptive NMT, “conjointly perform complex tasks, such as translating and producing large digital texts.” (Muñoz 2017: 564). Nevertheless, augmented translation refers to the coupling of human and machines in a “technology-centric approach to amplifying the capabilities of human translators” (Lommel 2020:np). It relates to existing technological integrated systems beyond just the automation brought by TM and MT “that learn and adapt from humans, who firmly remain in the loop and in charge” (Angelone 2023: 62). Some questions that will be discussed is whether (1) existing crowdsourcing technologies presented as AI or IA -driven “adapt” and leave “human translators” firmly in charge, (2) the existing fuzziness in the theoretical and conceptual constructs to discuss AI and translation augmentation and how they relate to the study of crowdsourcing, (3) the possibility of amplifying the capabilities of participants from a physiological, cognitive or social perspective (Lee et al. 2018: 191) or  (4) whether following Levy’s (2008, 2013) notion of augmented collective intelligence this area of study should benefit from the introduction of  augmented collective translation and what this concept would entail. 


Presentation 2: How collaborative is Concurrent Translation? Implications for Professional Practice

Joanna Gough and Özlem Temizöz, University of Surrey

In today’s globalised world, individual and collective multilingual communication is supported by a growing number of translation and localisation tools. These tools enable new forms of work and practices for professionals and require new types of collaboration between the agents in the broadly understood translation/localisation process. Research carried out in professional settings is very important to understanding the nature of different types of collaborations, and how they impact processes, products and workers involved. In this panel, we will talk about researching collaboration in translation as affected by translation technologies. More specifically, we will discuss the case of “concurrent translation” (CT), a form of collaboration in translation production that has been increasingly used on collaborative platforms in recent years. CT is defined as translation production activity carried out for commercial reasons, by multiple, predominantly trained translation professionals, using technologies that enable horizontal and vertical collaboration in a synchronous way, i.e., working on one text concurrently. This way of producing translations has implications for professional practice, translator training and software development, but also raises more theoretical questions about the nature of collaboration in this particular workflow. In this talk we will first discuss where CT fits in other types of collaborative translation activities, and then address the implications of CT for professional practice by sharing the experiences of 804 translators with this workflow (CT) based on the findings of a survey. Along with demonstrating the empowering and impoverishing aspects of Concurrent Translation workflow as represented by the findings, we will problematise the idea of CT being labelled as a form of ‘collaborative translation’.


Presentation 3: Transcooperation in the Translation Industry

Gökhan Firat, University of Surrey

The need for achieving an efficient way of working together and mutually supporting each other has brought a lot of attention to the research and development of new types of collaborative models. This presentation explores these new types of collaboration in translation with a focus on cooperative translation, which has gained more importance as an alternative way of jointly producing and managing translation. This type of translation is usually driven by translation cooperatives, collectives, solidarity groups, translation associations and open-source initiatives that are owned and governed collectively by their workers/producers/members. However, there is a lack of knowledge about how they achieve collaboration and cooperation among their workers and members. In this regard, I will discuss how translation theory and praxis meet with cooperation (i.e., transcooperation) in the form of newly emerged translation cooperatives and where it fits in other types of collaborative translation activities. To achieve this, I will present concrete examples of translation cooperatives available in the translation industry by underlining their main similarities and differences from other types of collaborative actions. By doing so, it is hoped to contribute to the efforts towards ensuring inter-professional and inter-cultural collaboration and cooperation with translation.


Presentation 4: Collaborative research projects: challenges for academia and the industry

Joss Moorkens, Dublin City University

Félix do Carmo, University of Surrey

As research groups and centres, there are expectations to engage with industry and society, and to attract funding from non-exchequer and industrial sources. This can be particularly challenging for academics from the humanities. In this presentation, Félix do Carmo and Joss Moorkens reflect on their experience of industry collaboration, particularly for cofunded projects, in the ADAPT Centre in Dublin and at the University of Surrey. From building relationships to pitching projects and actively negotiating with companies, their experience has included successes and failures. When projects succeed, there can be mutual benefits in terms of research findings, cocreation of knowledge, publications, addressing personal and group performance indicators, and opportunities for follow-up projects. However, building collaborative projects is hard work, that can feel like lost time when projects do not come together.


Presentation 5: Involving User Communities in T&I Technology Research: A Tale of Two MT Projects

Lynne Bowker, University of Ottawa

Translation and interpreting (T&I) technologies have become increasingly embedded in the language professions and in society more broadly. Where there are tools, there are also users. However, at this point, we know comparatively little about tool users and their needs. To rectify this, more T&I researchers are turning their attention towards user studies, perhaps bringing us closer to a “user turn” in T&I technology research. To be effective, user studies must be approached thoughtfully, and rather than seeking to reinvent the wheel, T&I researchers might find inspiration in the methods used in other fields. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of population health became highly visible, as did some of the methods used in this field, such as community-based participatory research (CBPR). This presentation will explore the principles, advantages and potential barriers to uptake of CBPR in T&I technology research, illustrating its potential through two examples of machine translation research projects – one less successful project that did not adopt CBPR and one more successful project that did.


Joanna Gough

Joanna Gough

University of Surrey

Feliz do Carmo

Félix do Carmo

University of Surrey