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Lecture | Leiden Translation Talks

Using technology for the translation of literature: a user-centred approach

  • Paola Ruffo (Ghent University)
Wednesday 15 May 2024
Leiden Translation Talks
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden


Literary translators' perspectives on technological innovation for creative-text translation are often overlooked. Existing research suggests potential productivity gains from machine translation postediting (MTPE), yet literary translators tend to favour translation from scratch, citing concerns over creativity, engagement, and influence on the translator voice. Surveys reveal a lack of awareness of recent technological developments among literary translators and negative attitudes towards machine translation (MT), while studies also suggest using MT might affect creativity and narrative engagement. Some propose computer-aided translation (CAT) tools as an alternative to MTPE workflows, but evidence on their use by literary translators remains scarce.

In this talk, Paola Ruffo will address some of these issues by providing an overview of the state-of-the-art on technology for literary translation, and presenting findings from the EU-funded project "Developing User-Centred Approaches to Technological Innovation in Literary Translation" (DUAL-T). For DUAL-T, professional literary translators translated three short stories from English into Dutch using MS Word, Trados Studio 2022, and a proprietary MTPE platform. Data was collected via keystroke logging, screen capturing, pre/post-task questionnaires, and interviews. Results provide some insights into temporal, technical and cognitive effort for each of the three workflows, as well as into literary translators' use of translation technology.

Paola Ruffo

About the speaker

Paola Ruffo is a researcher in the field of Computer-Aided Literary Translation (CALT). In 2022, she joined Ghent University as a Marie Skłodowska–Curie Postdoctoral Fellow to work on 'Developing User-centred Approaches to Technological Innovation in Literary Translation (DUAL-T)'. She has previously worked as an English>Italian freelance translator and a Lecturer in Translation Technology at the University of Bristol. She has obtained her PhD at Heriot-Watt University with a thesis titled: 'In-between role and technology: literary translators on navigating the new socio-technological paradigm'.

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