What technology does to translating


  • Anthony Pym Universitat Rovira i Virgili


translation, technology, machine translation, translation memory.


Abstract: The relation between technology and translating is part of the wider question of what technology does to language. It is now a key question because new translation technologies such as translation memories, data-based machine translation, and collaborative translation management systems, far from being added tools, are altering the very nature of the translator’s cognitive activity, social relations, and professional standing. Here we argue that technologies first affect memory capacity in such a way that the paradigmatic is imposed more frequently on the syntagmatic. It follows that the translating activity is enhanced in its generative moment, yet potentially retarded in the moment of selection, where the values of intuition and text flows become difficult to recuperate. The redeeming grace of new technologies may nevertheless lie in new modes of opening translation to the space of volunteer  translation, where humanizing dialogue can in a way enter the internal space of translation decisions. The regime of the paradigmatic may thus be embedded in new modes of social exchange, where translation becomes one of the five basic language skills.