Broadening the theoretical and methodological scope of translation and interpreting studies: towards an interdisciplinary language- contact framework

01 January 2020 → 31 December 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics
    • Linguistics not elsewhere classified
    • Translation and interpretation sciences
interpreting studies
Project description

Although translation and interpreting studies (TIS) is still a young academic discipline (it started to develop only around mid-20th century), it has already significantly increased our understanding of these highly specific communication practices. It has emerged, for instance, that phonological, prosodic, lexical, grammatical, pragmatic and paralinguistic properties of the languages which are co-activated in translation and interpreting may change, leading to either small, ephemeral differences when compared to the same language in a monolingual situation or bigger, structural, stable changes in language structure and language use. TIS researchers generally agree that the occurrence of these differences is related to a complex interaction of social, cognitive, technological and multimodality-related constraints. Investigations into such language-contact-induced linguistic differences and their underlying constraints are being carried out not only in TIS, but also in related (linguistic) disciplines which focus on other types of language-contact settings (e.g., settings in which language learners acquire a new, foreign language; multilingual cities and nations where different (official) languages influence each other’s structure and use). Related disciplines that have a predominant focus on linguistic phenomena in language-contact settings are (probabilistic) variational linguistics of World Englishes, learner corpus research, contrastive linguistics, psycholinguistic bilingualism research, and translation & interpreting technology. Each of these disciplines, however, has its own terminological apparatus and its preferred conceptual and methodological framework. Needless to say, research findings do not find their way easily in TIS, and even if they do, comparing research results remains difficult. As a result, TIS hardly takes advantage of other discipline’s insights. Given the large number of constraints to be taken into account, a multi-methods approach is needed with appropriate statistical testing, as well as a new conceptual framework, which builds on the insights from these related fields, in order to more adequately describe, explain and predict the linguistic make-up of the translation and interpreting act. As translation and interpreting permeates society in new and challenging ways, to a much greater extent than has ever been the case in history, understanding (and modelling) this complex reality becomes increasingly crucial for the further development of TIS. In TIS, several forces are already beginning to pull in the same direction – reflected by increased methodological awareness, better articulated theoretical underpinnings and more interdisciplinary collaboration – and consolidation of these forces could lead to major breakthroughs. This WOG therefore aims to bring together key members of the TIS community and leading scholars from the neighboring disciplines mentioned above, who have complementary methodological and theoretical expertise, and who have a keen interest in multi-methods approaches, advanced statistical testing, and theory formation. The main objective of this WOG is the improvement and exchange of scientific knowledge about the constraints that influence the nature of translated, interpreted as well as other contact varieties in our highly globalized, digitalized and multicultural world through the creation of a network of scholars. More particularly, this network will:

  1. Disseminate current knowledge about empirical studies of translation and interpreting as well as other types of language contact by creating a website that functions as a central hub for references, tutorials and video interviews with leading scholars.
  2. Develop, disseminate and promote the use of advanced research methodologies (in particular multi-method approaches and advanced statistical methods) through workshops, summer schools and short-term visits, specifically for postdoc investigators.
  3. Stimulate the creation of larger and better multilingual, context-sensitive data collections, by offering a platform (as part of the website) for collaborative corpus construction, where best practices for compilation and design, annotation guidelines and relevant metadata are shared (cf., for instance, Centre for Open Science:
  4. Integrate existing data collections and strive towards convergence of methodological designs by setting up research collaborations between members of the network and joint applications for (interdisciplinary) research projects.
  5. Stimulate the use of empirical designs that are geared to verifying, adapting and enlarging the explanatory power of existing theoretical models.

Through its objectives, the WOG will reshape the field in such a way that data sources and resources and the results of the empirical investigations are directly comparable, thereby triggering a significant knowledge leap forward in our understanding of language variation in translation and interpreting as well as other contact-induced communication settings.

The central dissemination channel will be the WOG’s website, which will include a publicly available list of important publications, video tutorials and interviews, as well as technical reports on corpus compilation and multi-methods designs. In addition to the website, the following activities are planned, aiming at dissemination of the WOG’s results, stimulating joint publications and (interdisciplinary) project proposals, and fostering collaboration across research units and disciplines:

  1. One workshop in the second, third and fourth years; these will be devoted to the use of advanced methodological and analytical tools to adequately grasp the nature of contact-induced communicative acts, using an elaborate theoretical framework. If possible, the workshops will be held back-to-back with international conferences such as EST or TiT (in the form of panels or pre-conference workshops). International experts will be invited to participate as speakers and reviewers, to assess the standard of the WOG’s work and anchor it in the scientific community.
  2. Scientific publications, especially in open-access journals / volumes (such as Language Science Press): technical papers on corpus compilation and annotation, multivariate statistics and combining product and process studies.
  3. Closing international workshop in the fifth year, both for WOG’s participants and other scholars: highlighting the achievements of the WOG; offering a forum for scholars who conducted research along the methodological, analytical or theoretical lines set out in the WOG, and stimulating the preparation of a joint Horizon Europe application.