Online office hours: Tuesdays and Fridays 3 – 4 p.m.
Please note: the course is designed to transfer easily to an online format in case we need to pivot to remote learning or alternate modes throughout the semester. The Zoom meeting links for classes and for office hours in online mode are provided in Moodle from the start.
Important reminder: it is strictly forbidden and against Concordia University’s Code of Conduct to circulate the course content (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, evaluations, etc.) on websites that host or share teaching documents, university papers, etc.
Keep abreast of your university dates, deadlines, responsibilities and services:
Translation may be one of the oldest professions in the world, but … it is also very much a product of its times. This course considers the practices that have been emerging from the convergence of contemporary technologies, the multilingual Web, the digital world, and translation. Students examine the cultural, social, linguistic, technical, institutional, political, and ideological aspects and issues that contribute to the transformation of the current digital world, and by extension, the professional and non-professional translation landscape. On one hand, the practices and flows of information and communication move across borders through technologies in a globalizing, digital world, giving way to a ‘digital transnationalism’. On the other hand, these digital flows of communication and information collide with geographical and political boundaries, forcing diverse stake-holders (governments, institutions, organizations, companies, civil society) to deal with physical borders and concepts in a digital space and ecosystem. These general trends, heightened by increasingly automated processes, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, have had a significant impact on communication through translation as well — particularly machine translation. In this course, we consider these trends from general digital world and translation studies perspectives.
The translation studies discipline is interdisciplinary by default. The contributing multiple disciplinary approaches provide new insights into translation as an object of inquiry. This is no less the case for the critical contextualization that is input from research in digital studies. Current technologies and the ways we use them continue to transform how we communicate — including translation-mediated communication. No technology or platform is ever ‘neutral’. Nor can computers, information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile devices, the internet and Web still be defined as ‘new technologies’. Together, they are now an integral, ubiquitous, pervasive, and guiding force in today's cultures and societies. As our societies increasingly transform into multi-level digital ones, the implications for our personal and professional lives are huge. They challenge us to think beyond easily constructed homogeneous categories or simplified concepts and raise important questions about our forward trajectories. The ‘digital’ is not merely tech; it is also culture.
How do the notions of ‘source' and ‘target’ texts familiar to our translation discourse become problematic when the texts are ‘written’ by automated agents and translated by machine translation (MT) apps? ‘Who’ is responsible for ‘what’ in a translation process that includes many diverse, networked social actors in the digital ecosystems — clients, programmers, language service providers, project managers, localizers, translators, revisers, quality control reviewers, among others? Indeed, how are automation and artificial intelligence (AI) changing their practices? What is the role of translation in a multilingual, globalized digital world where internet users perceive it as a simple, instant operation generated by a mere mouse-click or voice command? How do the trends that increasingly digitalize our markets and economies, labour skills and notions of work affect social integration, government policies and politics, and governance from a plurilingual, multicultural perspective in participatory democracies? What is the role of ethics in digital societies, particularly with regard to AI and increasing robotization?
Although there may be more questions than answers at this point in time, it is critically important to begin our reflections and discussions on the relationships and dynamics underpinning our contemporary human lives mediated by technologies and the Web. In particular, the EU context serves as excellent ground on which to explore and discuss these questions, issues, and actions and what they ultimately mean for us, as students, practitioners, scholars, and human beings.
More specifically, in this course you will learn to:
Identify the diverse concepts and components of digital literacies;
Historicize the information and communication practices and needs of the digital world;
Recognize the functions of different types of multimodality and their relevance to digital content production and meaning-making in diverse communication contexts, including accessibility;
Evaluate the impact of ‘datafication’ on society, and the means by which personal and professional (including language and translation) data are/should be protected;
Identify the characteristic features of translation communication in a digital context, both in terms of the technologies used and the diverse roles it plays, and this in relation to the changing concepts of work, the workplace and environment;
Identify the concepts and practices involved in the automation of translation processes, and the role of the ‘human in the loop’, within the context of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”;
Assess the role and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) from the perspectives of ethics and trust-building in human-AI relationships;
Analyze the new and emerging roles of information and communication production and transmission (including those mediated through translation) in terms of digital world societies, economies, and governance, with a focus on EU dynamics.
Preparation for the course is similar for both on-site and online modalities.
Jean Monnet course note: As part of the EU’s Jean Monnet Chair program, the course is officially offered in English.
Readings: The required textbook, Understanding Digital Literacies. A Practical Introduction, Second Edition, by Rodney H. Jones and Christoph A. Hafner (Routledge 2021), can be purchased at the bookstore. For each class (onsite and online sessions), the expectation is that you will have read all the required readings listed for the week. The readings vary in scope and length, with some only a few pages (e.g., encyclopedia or handbook entries), others the length of a book chapter (ranging from 20-30 pages), and some with extensive bibliographies provided by the authors. Have a look at the content in advance, so you can plan ahead for the amount of time you’ll need during the week to read through the material. The readings may also be used for final papers.
Pre-recorded segments: You will be notified when pre-recorded segments are posted in Moodle for you to listen to prior to online sessions. Note: The segments are applicable only for the sessions that are online, as the length of time for the online meeting will be shorter than for the onsite meeting.
Comments: Each week you are responsible for posting (at least 24 hours before class) one substantive, informed comment for discussion on any or all of the readings. There are many interesting angles from which to consider the reading content. Your comments will guide discussion during our class meetings.
News items: Along with your comments on the readings, please find an online news item (any length; text, audio, video) of interest and relevant to the class, and post the URL at the end of your weekly comment. The news item need not be associated with your comment.
Class discussions: The discussions, both onsite and online (not recorded), constitute an important space for articulating, clarifying, and critiquing ideas. This activity is also most helpful for working through the ideas you may want to use for your final research papers.
Class comments, news items, and discussions (including pre-recorded segment listening) (50%)
Constitutes 50/100 points of final grade
Based on a total of 10 out of 13 weeks, each week worth 5 points
Breakdown of 5 points: 5=excellent; 4=very good; 3=good; 2=satisfactory; 1=unsatisfactory
Final research paper (50%)
Constitutes 50/100 points of final grade
Based on quality and respect of protocol (see below)
Breakdown of assessment categories:
"Excellent": originality; information highly relevant to the questions posed; highly critical and analytical; superior and judicious use of citations and supporting evidence [45-50 pts]
"Very Good/Good": clear argument and presentation; information relevant to the questions posed; good level of critical and analytical engagement with texts; very good use of citations and supporting evidence [30-44 pts]
"Satisfactory": evidence of argument and presentation; information not consistently relevant to the questions posed; critical analysis passable; citations included but not always reliable or compliant [20-29 pts]
"Unsatisfactory": incoherent argument / presentation; information illogical and/or irrelevant; little / no critical analysis; improper citing [0-19 pts]
Final grade calculation (100%)
Calculated on the basis of 100 points = 100%
Breakdown of grading categories:
A+ = 100-95 [4.3] // A = 94-90 [4.0]
A- = 89-85 [3.7] // B+ = 84-80 [3.3]
B = 79-75 [3.0] // B- = 74-70 [2.7]
C = 69-60 [2.0]
Protocol for final research papers
Mandatory! Please reserve a 10-15-minute one-on-one individual meeting with me to take place online by March 18th in order to discuss your final research paper topic and method before you begin writing.
Papers should be a minimum of 15 pages in length, excluding bibliography.
Please use the standard default Calibri font set at 11. Use 1.5 spacing between lines. Include a cover page that states your name, student ID number, and title.
Papers may be submitted in English or in French. You do not have to translate any English or French quotes.
Critical tip! Good, clear, precise writing is a skill that is valued highly for professional work of all types in today's job market. Writing a paper requires adequate time for conceptualization and preparation. Think about the research topic you want to explore or the research question you want to address. It is helpful to map out in advance the points you wish to make. State at the outset how you will proceed and define important or necessary terms and concepts. Synthesize and reference others to support or critique your statements. Make sure you provide an adequate synthesis of your ideas and use precise vocabulary to explain your sequence of thoughts.
Take care to reference and cite properly. Any and all passages that are plagiarized will be reported to the Department Chair, and the paper will receive an automatic failure. There is no need to resort to plagiarism. Our objective is to enhance the analytical, critical and writing skills you will need for future professional or academic work, so that you will feel confident in your own work. That purpose is defeated if you simply copy-paste someone else's words. See me in advance if you need assistance or guidance.
Papers are graded according to quality of argument, clarity of expression, proper use of terminology and concepts, and adequate, acceptable citation.
Welcome. Admin procedures, syllabus review, bibliographic and reference sources.
Intro discussion: Transformations in the contemporary world and translation landscape. What are the critical discourses in translation studies and in digital studies? Conceptualizing the digital world in relation to translation. Envisioning the future.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 2:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 1, “The Mediated Me”, 1-20 (Routledge 2021)
Michael Cronin, “Globalization”, 213-218, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
MIT Technology Review Insights, “The promise of the fourth industrial revolution” (MIT Technology Review, 19 November 2020)
Johnson, Nicholas and Brendan Markey-Towler, “Introduction—How and why to understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Economics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Internet, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain (Innovation and Technology Horizons) (Routledge 2020)
Klaus Schwab, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, The Britannica Encyclopaedia (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2018)
Erik Angelone, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow and Gary Massey, “A-Z key terms and concepts”, 387-406, The Bloomsbury Companion to Language Industry Studies, edited by Erik Angelone, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow and Gary Massey (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Understanding and defining the power of mediation and our mediated human selves. Contemporary digital literacies. The roles of globalization, automation and Industry 4.0 and translation in the contemporary digital world context.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 3:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 2, “Information everywhere”, 23-43 (Routledge 2021)
Debbie Folaron, “Technology, technical translation and localization”, 203-219, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Technology, edited by Minako O'Hagan (Routledge 2020)
Alexander Halavais, “How Search Shaped and Was Shaped by the Web”, 242-255, The SAGE Handbook of Web History, edited by Niels Brügger and Ian Milligan (SAGE, 2019)
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Peer Review”, 439-448, A New Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Wiley Blackwell, 2016)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Differentiating between ‘data’, ‘information’, and ‘knowledge’. Filtering ubiquitous information. Contextualizing translation and its technologization in contemporary society through its various iterations: ‘information’, ‘network’, ‘data’, ‘knowledge’, ‘algorithms’.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 4:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 3, “Reading and writing in digital contexts”, 45-63 (Routledge 2021)
Salvatore Giammarresi and Guy Lapalme, “Computer science and translation: Natural languages and machine translation”, 205-224, Border Crossings-Translation Studies and other disciplines, edited by Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer (John Benjamins, 2016)
Jaap van der Meer, “Translation technology-past, present and future”, 285-309, The Bloomsbury Companion to Language Industry Studies, edited by Erik Angelone, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow and Gary Massey (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)
Anthony Pym, “What are the best ways of working with machine translation?”, 160-161, The MIME VADEMECUM-Mobility and Inclusion in Multilingual Europe, edited by François Grin et al.
Ethem Alpaydin, “Pattern Recognition”, 55-84, Machine Learning (The MIT Press, 2016)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Attributes of digital objects and technologies. ‘Reading’ and ‘writing’ in digital contexts. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), interactivity, and automation. Coding natural languages for digital environments. Managing digital writing and translation processes. Automating translation.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 5:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 4, “Multimodality”, 65-88 (Routledge 2021)
Miguel A. Jiménez-Crespo, “Localization”, 299-304, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
Luis Pérez-González, “Fan audiovisual translation”, 172-177, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
Renée Desjardins, “Online and digital contexts”, 386-390, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, “Should I Market My Translation or Interpreting Services on Social Media?”, The ATA Chronicle
Juan José Martínez Sierra, guest editor, “Taking Stock and Audiovisual Translation”, Journal of Specialised Translation, Issue 30 (July 2018)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Digital content and its multimodality – text, audio, visual (image, video), sensory. Multimodal semiotics. Design and user interface. Translating, adapting, and localizing multimodal digital content. Professional and non-professional translators as technology users.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 6:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 5, “Online language and social interaction”, 89-110 (Routledge 2021)
W3C, “Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) – Designing for Web Accessibility”
Aline Remael and Nina Reviers, “Media accessibility and accessible design”, 482-497, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Technology, edited by Minako O’Hagan (Routledge 2020)
Estella Oncins and Pilar Orero, “No audience left behind, one App fits all: an integrated approach to accessibility services”, Journal of Specialised Translation, Issue 34 – July 2020
Paul Marshall and Eva Hornecker, “Theories of Embodiment in HCI”, 144-158, The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research, edited by Sara Price, Carey Jewitt and Barry Brown (SAGE, 2013)
Jeffrey Bardzell, “Critical and Cultural Approaches to HCI”, 130-143, The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research, edited by Sara Price, Carey Jewitt and Barry Brown (SAGE, 2013)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Engaging with digital technologies and content in online contexts. Human communication in a digital world. Human-computer/machine interaction. (En)coding and (de)coding the phatic in digital space. Digital embodiment. User interface design, visual design, and localization for disability accessibility.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 7:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 6, “Mobility and materiality”, 112-133 (Routledge 2021)
John Jordan, “Future Directions”, 219-231, Robots (The MIT Press, 2016)
Finn Arne Jørgensen, “The Internet of Things”, 42-53, A New Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Wiley Blackwell, 2016)
Arne Hintz, Lina Dencik and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, “Citizenship in a Digital Age”, 20-41, Digital Citizenship in a Datified Society (Polity Press, 2019)
François Grin, “The MIME Vademecum: an Introduction”, 14-27, The MIME VADEMECUM-Mobility and Inclusion in Multilingual Europe, edited by François Grin et al. (MIME Project, 2018)
Sydney J. Shep, “Digital Materiality”, 322-329, A New Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Wiley Blackwell, 2016)
John Jordan, “How Do Humans and Robots Get Along?”, 181-217, Robots (The MIT Press, 2016)
Adrian Athique and Vibodh Parthasarathi, “Platform Economy and Platformization”, 1-19, Platform Capitalism in India, edited by Adrian Athique and Vibodh Parthasarathi (Palgrave Macmillan 2020)
Vincent Mosco, “Citizenship in a Post-Internet World”, 175-212, Becoming Digital-Toward a Post-Internet Society (Emerald Publishing, 2017)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: ‘Time’ and ‘space’ in the contemporary digital world and their relation to ubiquitous technologies, communication, and mobility. Human-mobile device interaction. The Internet of Things (IoT) and inter-device communication. Multilingual spaces, identities, and citizenship in relation to mobility, digital technologies, and spaces/places.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 8:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 7, “Critical digital literacies”, 135-156 (Routledge 2021)
Dorothy Kenny, “Machine translation”, 305-310, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
Ana Guerberof Arenas, “Pre-editing and post-editing”, 333-360, The Bloomsbury Companion to Language Industry Studies, edited by Erik Angelone, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow and Gary Massey (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)
Abhishek Gupta, “Disability, Bias, and AI (Research Summary)" (Montreal Artificial Intelligence Ethics Institute / MAIEI, 6 January 2021)
Sara M. Grimes and Andrew Feenberg, “Critical Theory of Technology”, 121-129, The SAGE Handbook of Digital Technology Research, edited by Sara Price, Carey Jewitt and Barry Brown (SAGE, 2013)
Marcus Tomalin, Bill Byrne, Shauna Concannon, Danielle Saunders, and Stefanie Ullmann, “The practical ethics of bias reduction in machine translation: why domain adaptation is better than data debiasing”, 419-433, Ethics and Information Technology, Vol 23 (2021)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Critical positionings with regard to digital technologies of information and communication. Considering ideologies and power relations, deep learning and algorithms. Understanding ‘bias’. Communication through translation. Automatic machine translation in the digital world. Editing MT content.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 9:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 8, “Online cultures and intercultural communication”, 161-181 (Routledge 2021)
Roberto A. Valdeón, Chapter 30, 558-573, “Translation and culture in mainstream media and journalism”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Culture, edited by Sue-Ann Harding and Ovidi Carbonell Cortés (Routledge 2018)
David Jemielity, Chapter 29, 533-557, “Translation in intercultural business and economic environments”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Culture, edited by Sue-Ann Harding and Ovidi Carbonell Cortés (Routledge 2018)
Herman Wasserman, “African histories of the Internet”, 129-137, Internet Histories, edited by Niels Brügger, Gerard Goggin, Ian Milligan and Valérie Schafer (Routledge, 2018)
Mark McLelland, “Early Challenges to multilingualism on the Internet: the case of Han character-based scripts”, 119-128, Internet Histories, edited by Niels Brügger, Gerard Goggin, Ian Milligan and Valérie Schafer (Routledge, 2018)
Nicholas Ostler, “Introduction: Endangered languages in the New Multilingual Order per genus et differentiam”, 1-13, Endangered Languages and New Technologies, edited by Mari C. Jones (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Video games in digital social worlds. Gaming cultures. Game translation and localization. ‘Virtual’ spaces and augmented realities as modes of interaction. Rethinking Plato’s allegory of the cave. Rethinking Turing. Considerations on ‘augmented translation’.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 11:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 10, “Social (and ‘anti-social’) media”, 205-225 (Routledge 2021)
Abhishek Gupta, “Why civic competence in AI ethics is needed in 2021” (Montreal Artificial Intelligence Ethics Institute / MAIEI, 6 January 2021)
Anja Kaspersen and Wendell Wallach, “Why Are We Failing at the Ethics of AI?”, 10 Nov 2021, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Lynne Bowker, Chapter 18, 262-278, “Translation technology and ethics”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics, edited by Kaisa Koskinen and Nike K. Pokorn (Routledge 2020)
Joss Moorkens and Marta Rocchi, Chapter 21, 320-337, “Ethics in the translation industry”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics, edited by Kaisa Koskinen and Nike K. Pokorn (Routledge 2020)
Anthony Pym, “Should machine translation be used when providing public services?”, 152-153, The MIME VADEMECUM-Mobility and Inclusion in Multilingual Europe, edited by François Grin et al.
Andrew Joscelyne, “How does AI Ethics impact translation?”, Blog entry, 4 Jan 2021, TAUS
Lluís Baixauli-Olmos, Chapter 20, 297-319, “Ethics codes for interpreters and translators”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics, edited by Kaisa Koskinen and Nike K. Pokorn (Routledge 2020)
Sachin Waikar, “Preparing for the Future of Work”, blog entry 11 November 2020 (HAI Stanford University Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Ties, affect, relations, identities within social networking systems and platforms. Understanding ‘trust’. ‘Anti-social’ as behaviours and actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. Human beings, artificial intelligence (AI), and ethical considerations. AI and ethics around translation and communication in the digital world. Managing trust in AI and MT communications.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 12:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 11, “Collaboration and peer production”, 226-249 (Routledge 2021)
Julie McDonough Dolmaya, “Translation and collaborative networks”, Chapter 18, 347-360, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Culture, edited by Sue-Ann Harding and Ovidi Carbonell Cortés (Routledge 2018)
Julie McDonough Dolmaya, “Crowdsourced translation”, 124-129, Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, Third Edition, edited by Mona Baker and Gabriela Saldanha (Routledge, 2020)
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Diverse types of structured collaboration technologies and peer production in digital context. Collaborative practices for translation activities. Data and intellectual property (IP) considerations. Data regulation in the EU (GDPR) and governance of translation data. EU Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act.
Readings to prepare for discussion @ session 13:
Jones and Hafner, Chapter 12, “Surveillance and privacy” and “Afterword”, 250-276 (Routledge 2021)
Luciano Floridi, “Introduction”, 1-3, The Onlife Manifesto-Being Human in a Hyperconnected Era (Open Access 2015)
Nicholas Agar, “A Tempered Optimism about the Digital Age”, 155-173, How to Be Human in the Digital Economy (The MIT Press, 2019)
Mark O’Thomas, “Humanum ex machina-Translation in the post-global, posthuman world”, 284-300, Target 29:2 (2017)
Giuseppe Palumbo, “The Future of Translation and Translators in a Fast-Changing Economic and Technological Landscape”, 220-241, Translation and Localization-A Guide for Technical and Professional Communicators, edited by Bruce Maylath and Kirk St. Amant (Routledge, 2019)
Michael Cronin, Chapter 19, 279-293, “Translation and posthumanism”, The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics, edited by Kaisa Koskinen and Nike K. Pokorn (Routledge 2020)
Jovan Kurbalija, “Introduction”, An Introduction to Internet Governance, 7th Edition (Diplo Foundation, 2016)
Class submission: Final research paper due today through April 14.
Discussion on prepared weekly readings: Surveillance and privacy. Genres of disclosure. On being human. Translation, technology, and the digital world.
Wrap-up: concluding thoughts
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