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Leiden Translation Talk 26 February: Multilingualism 2.0, online translation tools and language policies on social media platforms

Wednesday 26 February 2020
The event starts at 17:15 hours sharp, so please be on time.
Leiden Translation Talks
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


At present, the existing 2.0 Web is far more multilingual than was ever anticipated in the early days of the Internet (Hale, 2014; Hale & Eleta, 2017). Indeed, the increasing variety of languages is a phenomenon that signals the end of the first stages of the digital era in which the Internet was characterized by English-language dominance (Leppänen & Peuronen, 2012).

In this talk I will present the emerging topics in multilingual research applied to 2.0 platforms. In particular, I will offer an overview of the language policies, and the related  use of translation tools, adopted by five popular platforms: Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram, Booking.com and TripAdvisor.

For most 2.0 platform providers multilingualism constitutes an opportunity (to grow their users’ base) but also a challenge. Typically, these platforms do not opt for an English-only rule, but rather develop linguistic policies and include machine translation in order to accommodate their multilingual users (Cenni & Goethals, 2017). The case of TripAdvisor is particularly striking, not least because it is characterized by the coexistence of two divergent multilingual strategies on the same platform.

Keywords: multilingualism online, 2.0 platforms, language policy, online (machine) translation, user-generated content

Irene Cenni

Irene Cenni is a PhD candidate with teaching mandate at the department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication (Ghent University, Belgium) where she is affiliated to the research group MULTIPLES-Language in Society. Her PhD project focuses on the investigation of pragmalinguistic features of computer-mediated tourism discourse, with close attention paid to hotel reviews (and responses) posted on TripAdvisor. She adopts a cross-linguistic perspective analyzing user-generated content written in Italian, English and Dutch. Her research interests include pragmatics, sociolinguistics, intercultural communication, translation and second language acquisition/teaching. She currently teaches courses on Italian L2, business and intercultural communication and translation at Ghent University both at Bachelor and Master level.

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