Social Translation II

While looking for an article I had read in the Journal of Specialized Translation a few weeks ago, I came across another one by accident, and as it turns out, it discusses social translation (although the author refers to the concept as user-generated translation). Saverio Perrino’s User-generated Translation: The future of translation in a Web 2.0 environment appears in Issue 12 of JOST.

In it, Perrino reviews seven tools for social/collaborative/user-generated translation: ProZ, TranslatorsCafe, Traduwiki, Der Mundo, Cucumis, Wiki Translate and Word Reference. His review of ProZ and TranslatorsCafe focuses only on the user-generated dictionaries and glossaries (KudoZ and TCTerms, respectively) within these sites, as these aspects can directly be considered user-generated translation.

In his review of Der Mundo (formerly known as Worldwide Lexicon), Perrino makes an important point about the motivations behind social translation. He notes that the site founder and designer, Brian McConnell, “underestimated the fact that volunteer translators would not work on any text, but only on those they were genuinely interested in.” McConnell eventually redesigned Worldwide Lexicon so that volunteers could choose the texts they wanted to translate instead of being assigned portions of a text in which they might have very little interest. This point was also raised by Zuckerman in the CBC interview I quoted in my last post on this topic. He noted that the crowd-sourced translations are usually of “extremely high quality,” in part because they’re “done by people who really care about the content that they’re doing.” Later, he added that “particularly if it’s on something that you care about, the content is interesting to you, particularly if you have a peer group to rely on, particularly if you have the choice to engage in this process, it turns out that people will flock towards projects like this.”

Clearly, any research into the motivations of those engaged in social translation projects should explore the extent to which a volunteer’s interest in a topic or his or her commitment to a cause affects not only the decision to participate in the project, but also the extent of participation. For instance, do users who describe themselves as very interested in a project translate more text than those who are less interested, and do those who feel more committed to a cause take on more roles (e.g. translator, reviser, proof-reader) in a social translation project ?

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