Félix do Carmo is a Senior Lecturer in Translation and Natural Language Processing at the Centre for Translation Studies of the University of Surrey, in the United Kingdom. He finished his PhD at the University of Porto, where he was a Guest Lecturer, after a career of more than twenty years as a translator and a translation company owner in Portugal. He was then granted a prestigious two-year EDGE-MSCA fellowship to work as a post-doctoral researcher in Dublin City University, Ireland. He has presented his work in international conferences and published in international publications, such as the recent article in “Translation Spaces” about marks of time and money in translation, and another one in the “Machine Translation” journal about automatic post-editing. His research interests cover the translation process and translation technologies, besides workflows and ethical issues in professional translation.



Discourses of and about translation, before and after the digital revolution

An alternative title for this talk could be: “What do we talk about, when we talk about translation”? The fact is that “translation” means many different things to many different people. Discourses produced by the discipline of Translation Studies should be considered the legitimate sources of “discourses of translation”, since they incorporate a reflection on the ontological identity of translation. Still, these discourses do not often reach beyond the confines of the discipline, leaving a wide open field for “discourses about translation”, superficial uses of the term, unconcerned by its definition or ontological setting. Regrettably for the discipline, new discourses coming from the world of technology, most related to machine translation, are powerful enough to be heard and replicated across the world. This talk covers the conflict between these two types of discourses: one sustained by a knowledgeable concern about translation, and the other based on a pragmatic, technology-based, use of the term. In this talk, I will present a reflection on the views of translation conveyed by some of these discourses: some positive, other negative; some contribute to its increased visibility, but devalue the role of the creators of translated texts; others defend the human creativity behind translation, but stall the required continuous feeding of translated products to the world. I will address the discourses of the industry, the discourses of the researchers, and the mostly silent voices of the translators. At the end of this reflection, I will approach the initial question of this abstract: what do we know about translation? Must it always elude our efforts to define and understand it, often seen as a mere secondary communication act? Our discourses of translation are being challenged by this technology that offers some form of translation in our mobile phones and computers. The ultimate goal of this talk is to contribute to our understanding of what translation is, by analysing what is said about it.