The Rise and Rise of Audiovisual Translation

We recently published Fast-Forwarding with Audiovisual Translation edited by Jorge Díaz Cintas and Kristijan Nikolić. In this post the editors discuss how the field of audiovisual translation has changed over time and how their new book contributes to the conversation.

Croatia, the native land of Kristijan, belongs to the group of the so-called subtitling countries, whereas Spain, from where Jorge hails, is firmly rooted in the practice of dubbing. Or so some used to say, as changes in the field of audiovisual translation have taken place so fast in the last decades that such neat, clear-cut distinctions are difficult to justify these days. Everything seems to be in flux.

Technological advancements have had a great impact on the way we deal with the translation and distribution of audiovisual productions, and the switchover from analogue to digital technology at the turn of the last millennium proved to be particularly pivotal. In the age of digitisation and pervasiveness of the internet, the world has become smaller, contact across languages and cultures has accelerated and audiovisual translation has never been so prominent. VHS tapes have long gone, the DVD came and went in what felt like a blink of an eye, Blu-rays never quite made it as a household phenomenon and, in the age of the cloud, we have become users of streaming, aka OTT (over the top) distribution, where the possession of actual physical items is a thing of the past. We now rely on video-on-demand and watch audiovisual productions in real time, ‘over the screen’, without the need to download them to our computer, thanks to the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Iflix to name but a few. And, as a matter of fact, most of the programmes come accompanied by subtitles and dubbed versions in various languages, with many also including subtitles for the deaf and the hard-of-hearing and audio description for the blind and the partially sighted. Never before has translation been so prominent on screen.

The collection of chapters in our new book, written by authors from a panoply of countries, offers a state of the art overview of the discipline and practice of audiovisual translation that goes to show how much we have moved on from those analogue days. With the title of this book, Fast-Forwarding with Audiovisual Translation, we have tried to convey that feeling of rapid movement so characteristic of this professional practice, where nothing stands still. Though irremediably a snapshot of the present, the various contributions therein also embrace some of the changes taking place nowadays and announce some of the ones looming ahead. From cognitive approaches to AVT, including experiments with eyetracking, to the translation of cultural references and humour, and to the use of subtitling in language learning, the book will take readers through fascinating new findings in this field.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Jorge Díaz Cintas’ 2009 book, New Trends in Audiovisual Translation

The Under-researched Area of Community Translation

This month we published Translating for the Community edited by Mustapha Taibi. In this post the editor discusses the origins of the book and the under-researched areas of the field it aims to address.

The idea of this book came out of the first International Conference on Community Translation, held at Western Sydney University in September 2014. The conference followed the creation, in 2013, of the International Community Research Group. These initiatives were responses to insufficient research activities and publications in the area of Community Translation (also known as Public Service Translation in some parts of the world).

Rather than publish conference proceedings, we decided to publish a volume of selected contributions, both by scholars who were able to make it to the conference and others who were not. Thus the book includes the contributions of two plenary speakers (Dorothy Kelly and Harold Lesch), conference papers that were developed further (by Ignacio García, Leong Ko, Jean Burke, and Carmen Valero and Raquel Lázaro), and contributions by scholars interested in Community Translation who did not attend the conference (Brooke Townsley and Alicia Rueda-Acedo). In my case, as conference organiser, although I did not participate with a paper, I felt I needed to contribute with a chapter on “Quality Assurance in Community Translation”, a central issue in translation and interpreting in general, and in Community Translation in particular.

The contributions were reviewed separately by two reviewers each (please see the list of reviewers in the acknowledgements section of the book), then the entire book was reviewed by anonymous reviewers invited by the publisher, as well as by the editors of the series Translation, Interpreting and Social Justice in a Globalised World, Philipp Angermeyer (York University, Canada) and Katrijn Maryns (Ghent University, Belgium). A big thank you to everybody involved!

The volume is a small contribution to an under-researched area of study. It covers a number of issues relating to Community Translation, which are at the same time local and global:

– What the situation of Community Translation is in different parts of the world, and what common issues emerge from local descriptions (e.g. Australia, Spain, South Africa, UK);

– How to frame and understand Community Translation and its social mission (empowerment of disempowered groups);

– How to ensure quality and empower communities through a type of translation work that is not sufficiently regulated and does not receive the policy and research attention it deserves;

– How to design and logistically organise training courses in Community Translation given the linguistic diversity of minority groups and the financial challenges surrounding the decisions of education providers;

– How to create links between universities and other education providers, on one hand, and relevant government and non-government organisations and community bodies, on the other, for more community engagement, civic awareness and societal impact of (translation) training and professional practice;

– How to integrate new technologies and the work of volunteers to expedite production and access without impacting the quality and effectiveness of community translations.

As noted in the editor’s concluding remarks, a number of research lines and topics within the area of Community Translation remain unmapped or insufficiently addressed. The nature of Community Translation also triggers a need for interdisciplinary research that combines efforts from fields such as language policy, public service, social marketing, sociolinguistics, healthcare, immigration, social services, education, human rights, etc. I would be delighted to see other scholars building on this humble contribution and moving forward.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Ideology, Ethics and Policy Development in Public Service Interpreting and Translation edited by Carmen Valero-Garcés and Rebecca Tipton.

Public Policy Development in Translation and Interpreting Studies

We recently published the first book in our new series Translation, Interpreting and Social Justice in a Globalised World, entitled Ideology, Ethics and Policy Development in Public Service Interpreting and Translation edited by Carmen Valero-Garcés and Rebecca Tipton. In this post the editors introduce us to the main themes of the book.

As the 21st century advances, Public Service Interpreting and Translation (PSIT) services are increasingly positioned at the service of conflict resolution in different contexts, while at the same time being locked in their own struggle for professional recognition. This edited volume builds on our experiences as educators, researchers and practitioners as well as on the FITISPos Conference series in Public Service Interpreting and Translation held at the University of Alcalá, Madrid, and in particular the 2014 Conference which revisited topics related to ethics and ideology in situations of conflict.

The collection illuminates emerging challenges for PSIT in statutory and non-statutory services generated by violent conflict, population displacement and migration, inter alia, gender-based violence, human rights violations and mental health trauma. These challenges raise questions as to the nature of the ethical and ideological frameworks within which interpreters and translators operate, the extent to which they shape such frameworks, and the role of states and institutions in acknowledging and responding to human need and human rights, against a backdrop of shifting political, social and legal landscapes.

The chapters explore the evolving nature of ethics and ideology in a range of settings, and their implications for PSIT service organization, perception and delivery. They make a timely contribution to discussions on public policy development in translation and interpreting studies (see also González Núñez and Meylaerts (eds) 2017).

The volume promotes research involving inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional approaches in order to appeal to communities of public service interpreting and translation, communities of research and practice, intercultural communication services and key stakeholders in policy development. The intended readership is therefore broader than the constituency of PSIT alone and extends to anyone interested in multicultural societies.

The volume is divided into two parts; the first, titled ‘(Re-)defining Concepts and Policy Contexts’ provides historical and contemporary perspectives on ideology in the development of interpreting at the service of state bodies and institutions. The chapters explore ideologies of recruitment, positioning, discourses of professionalization, PSIT and the democratic process, and the ethics and politics of recognition. The chapters are underpinned by theoretical frameworks that highlight political science as an increasingly important inter-discipline.

Part 2 titled ‘Experiences From the Field’ brings together contributions on interpreting in settings such as courtrooms, correctional facilities and in the pre-trial phases of criminal investigation. It focuses on interpreter mediation with asylum seekers, refugees and trauma survivors, drawing on case studies and survey-based studies. Ethical and ideological perspectives are foregrounded through a spotlight on issues of access to justice in correctional facilities and rehabilitation for limited proficiency speakers. Interlingual communication is theorized in particular through rights-based discourses.  The chapters offer new insight into different types of legal events in the European context and bring a fresh perspective on the use and training of interpreters in Europe and the United States.

We hope that the volume opens up useful discussion between educators, interpreting practitioners and key public service and community stakeholders with a view to developing coherent policy approaches to PSIT across domains and settings.


González Núñez Gabriel and Reine Meylaerts (eds) (2017) Translation and Public Policy: Interdisciplinary perspectives and case studies, London and New York: Routledge.

For more information about this book, please see our website

How can we overcome language barriers in health care?

This month we published Providing Health Care in the Context of Language Barriers edited by Elizabeth A. Jacobs and Lisa C. Diamond. In this post the editors tell us about the inspiration behind the book and what we can expect from reading it.

Have you ever had to seek health care in a country where you did not speak the language? Have you ever thought about what the experiences of the patient, care provider and, if present, interpreter are?

As immigration continues and grows across the globe, this has become a frequent experience for patients around the world. Many patients and their health care providers have to communicate across a language barrier, often in collaboration with an interpreter, formal or informal. In this situation, patients’ needs may not be understood or met because of lack of adequate communication. The nature and complexity of language barriers in health care vary within and across nations due to the culture and political nature of the nation and/or the linguistic groups seeking health care in those countries. With this diversity of contexts comes a need for diverse approaches to overcoming language barriers in health care. The goal of our book is to provide a collection of chapters describing these different approaches, their advantages and disadvantages, and special issues which need to be considered in particular contexts or linguistic groups.

This edited volume provides an excellent overview of the global challenge health care providers and linguistically diverse patients face when they seek health care in settings where it is delivered in a language other than their own. The contributing authors provide a diverse set of insights into these challenges and means for overcoming them and highlight how the likely best solutions to the problem of language barriers in health care vary depending on where you are in the world, what means of overcoming them are available, how policy shapes or does not shape these solutions, and the culture, language, and language abilities of the patients being served. They also provide a number of practical ideas and recommendations as to how to address these challenges, from how to work effectively with informal interpreters to developing a means for measuring physician language proficiency. These recommendations sometimes conflict, indicating that, while the challenge is consistent and global, the means for addressing language barriers in health care settings are varied and context-dependent.

We hope you find valuable evidence for the diversity of linguistic needs in the health care setting around the world in this book and that it serves you as an important resource for understanding this increasing global challenge, the different means for addressing it, and issues that must be addressed when developing solutions.

Patients worldwide deserve to be heard and understood and we hope this work helps make this happen.

For more information about this book, please visit our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Medical Discourse in Professional, Academic and Popular Settings edited by Pilar Ordóñez-López and Nuria Edo-Marzá and Ideology, Ethics and Policy Development in Public Service Interpreting and Translation edited by Carmen Valero-Garcés and Rebecca Tipton.

Decentralising Translation Studies

In April we published New Insights into Arabic Translation and Interpreting edited by Mustapha Taibi. This book examines the key issues surrounding translation from or into Arabic. In this post, Mustapha introduces the key themes of his book and reveals how it fills a gap in the Eurocentric field of translation studies.

A number of Translation Studies scholars (e.g. Gentzler, Tymoczko, Trivedi and Cheung) have pointed out the relativism surrounding the concept of ‘translation’. The different terms used in different languages to refer to this activity may yield different understandings, connotations and approaches. This implies that Translation Studies would not be what it is (or what it has been until recently) if it had been decentralised earlier and different local perspectives had been considered. As Maria Tymoczko suggests in Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators, “There is a need in translation studies for more flexible and deeper understanding of translation, and the thinking of non-Western peoples about this central human activity is essential in achieving broader and more durable theories about translation.”

New Insights into Arabic Translation and InterpretingAs a student, and later as a lecturer, in interpreting and translation, it didn’t take me much effort to note that the textbooks and references in use are almost exclusively by European or North American authors. Some languages and cultures have been predominantly on the ‘consumption’ side of theories and research in these fields. The Arab World and Arabic are a case in point. In his introduction to my new book New Insights into Arabic Translation and Interpreting, Emeritus Prof. Stuart Campbell writes:

“Despite the increasing surge of scholarship on translation since the seventies, European and North American voices have dominated the field and largely shaped it. With a few notable exceptions such as Mona Baker and Basil Hatim, it is only in the last decade that Arab scholars have begun to add their voices in substantial numbers; on the whole, Arab scholarship has been a “consumer” rather than a “producer” of new ideas in translation research”.

As a result of a shortage of Translation Studies works in and on Arabic, Arab translation and interpreting scholars, teachers and students often need to use references that were developed based on languages and socio-cultural contexts other than Arabic and the Arab culture.

New Insights into Arabic Translation and Interpreting is a new contribution which bridges this gap. It offers translation students, teachers, researchers and practitioners a collection of articles by established as well as young researchers from different parts of the world (Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Spain), addressing translation in the Arab World, translating from and into Arabic, and teaching translation from and into Arabic, with a special focus on new fields of study and professional practice, new lines of research and innovative teaching approaches and resources.

At the same time, the book is a new contribution which decentralises Translation Studies, in the sense of offering ‘local’ perspectives on translation and interpreting. Although European and North American scholars are abundantly cited in its chapters, the book looks at translation and interpreting from the angle of sociolinguistic and socio-cultural contexts that are quite different from the Western situations that have dominated the Translation Studies scene so far.

As an example, community interpreting and community translation have been associated in the literature with migrant communities in Europe and North America. The publications available usually refer to ‘non-English/French/Spanish speakers’, ‘speakers of minority languages’, ‘culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) users’ and so on. ‘Periphery’ languages such as Arabic, Swahili, Wolof, Chinese and others are categorised as ‘minority’ languages or as the languages of disempowered migrants and refugees. Some chapters in this book reverse the picture by bringing to the scene public service situations where Arabic is the mainstream language and other languages, including European ones, are ‘public service user’ languages. Chapter 3 in particular takes community translation and interpreting to a territory which is thus far unfamiliar: language services during the annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Another example is the chapter by Said Faiq: the author notes an imbalance in the translation-mediated flow between Arab and Western cultures and questions the “master discourse”, which affects translation from and into Arabic at different levels. He concludes with a call for translation that facilitates and promotes intercultural understanding. (This should be the role of translation by definition, but that is not always the case): “A critical understanding of the ways in which master discourses operate might contribute to more efficient self-monitoring on the part of all involved in translation, and might lead to making it a true process of intercultural understanding rather than a way of reinforcing existing representations and images of one culture about another.  This can be achieved through a cross-cultural appraisal of the discourses underlying translation and translating with a view to better understanding the issues of identity (self and other), translation enterprise (patronage, agencies, translators) and norms of representation (master discourse)”.

1853597430For further information about the book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like another of our titles: Cultural Encounters in Translation from Arabic edited by Said Faiq.


New series: Translation, Interpreting and Social Justice in a Globalised World

We are very happy to introduce this new book series on Translation, Interpreting and Social Justice in a Globalised World edited by Philipp Angermeyer and Katrijn Maryns. In this post, the series editors introduce their series and explain what topics it will cover.

Series flyer
Series flyer – Click to enlarge

In our era of globalisation and migration, translation and interpreting are ubiquitous phenomena wherever speakers of different languages come into contact, and are inextricably linked to questions of social power and inequality. In contexts as varied as courts, schools, hospitals and workplaces, or in interactions with police or refugee services, translators and interpreters variously take on roles as institutional gatekeepers, intercultural mediators, or advocates for members of marginalised communities, with evident implications for the encounters and the participants whose communication is thus mediated.

This international series welcomes authored monographs and edited collections that address translation and interpreting in settings of diversity, globalisation, migration and asylum. Books in the series will discuss how translation and interpreting practices (or their absence) may advance or hinder social justice. A key aim of the series is to encourage dialogue between scholars and professionals working in translation and interpreting studies and those working in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, or other fields related to linguistics.

Books in the series will cover both translation and interpreting services provided by state and corporate entities, as well as informal, community-based translation and interpreting. We welcome proposals covering any combination of languages (including Sign languages) and from a wide variety of geographical contexts. A guiding aim of the series is to empower those who may be disadvantaged by their lack of access to majority or official languages. Proposals which bridge the gap between theoretical and practical domains are particularly encouraged.

Topics which may be addressed by books in the series include (but are not limited to):

  • Translation and language rights
  • Access to democracy and citizenship
  • Asylum and migration procedures
  • The media and minority-language broadcasting and publishing
  • Educational settings (including community-based education)
  • Medical settings (including care settings and provision of public health information)
  • Legal settings (law enforcement, court, prison, counselling)
  • Cultural translation
  • Interactions with business and private-sector institutions
  • Translation and intercultural relations and conflict
  • Ethical and political considerations in translation

We welcome proposals on research that contributes to these themes. Proposals should be sent to Laura Longworth, Commissioning Editor. For more information about the new series please see our website or download a flyer for the series here.