Translation in Wikipedia: A Praxeological Study of Normativity, Negotiation and Automation across Four Language Communities

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures

Abstract

This doctoral research project investigates how regulation, negotiation and automation have contributed to the emergence and evolution of translation practices across the Spanish, French, Dutch and Swedish language communities of Wikipedia over the past 5 years. Drawing primarily on Wenger's (1998) concept of 'communities of practice', Warde's (2005, 2016) 'standards of performance', and Shove et al.'s (2012) postulate that materials configure practices, this research has four clear aims. First, it analyses the translation standards (policies, guidelines and essays) set by each Wikipedia community under investigation, looking for patterns of convergence and dissonance. Second, it examines how these standards are negotiated by engaged Wikipedia editors in forum-like spaces such as 'talk pages'. Third, it seeks to ascertain the extent to which 16 experienced Wikipedia translators of the four communities have incorporated these standards into their practices. Finally, the last part of the study centres on how the implementation and subsequent deployment of bespoke automated devices (software robots and CX) and metadata have contributed to configuring the translators' practices, focusing on the last lustrum.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
2068270 Studentship EP/N509565/1 30/09/2018 31/12/2021 Jose Gustavo Gongora Goloubintseff
EP/R513131/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2068270 Studentship EP/R513131/1 30/09/2018 31/12/2021 Jose Gustavo Gongora Goloubintseff
 
Description Launched in 2001, Wikipedia is a long-standing multilingual user-driven encyclopaedia and one of the most popular sources of first-hand information in the world. Although its previously neglected multilingual nature has awakened scholarly interest in recent years, most studies have vastly overlooked the norms and materials that underpin and configure the practice of translation in Wikipedia. Consequently, this doctoral thesis first sets out to investigate the extent to which translation standards have been regulated, negotiated and ultimately incorporated into the practices of 16 translators of the Spanish, French, Dutch and Swedish language communities of the encyclopaedia. This investigation is then followed by an examination of the translators' views on and deployment of automated devices such as software robots (bots) and Wikipedia's bespoke Content Translation Tool (CX). Drawing primarily upon Wenger's (1998) 'communities of practice', Warde's (2016) 'standards of performance', and Shove's (2017) concept of 'devices as practice configurators', this project seeks to ascertain the role of local (community-based) translation standards and automated devices in configuring the practice of translation in Wikipedia, with the focus placed on the last lustrum. The thematic analysis of documented standards revealed that despite being tangible differences in how the four communities regulated translation, most guidelines gave similar advice on core editing principles such as verifiability of the sources. The data collected from translation-related comments on the ancillary 'talk pages' further suggest that although certain aspects of the standards have been vehemently contested, such norms have not undergone substantial changes over the years. This stagnation was later corroborated by a cohort of experienced translators that took part in the study, most of whom attached little, if any, relevance to local standards. The findings also show a widespread tendency among participants to comply with more 'enforceable' policies commonly found in editing, thus lending support to previously formulated claims that translation and editing in Wikipedia form a continuum. Finally, the study has also brought to light the impact of devices such as bots and CX in configuring translation in the encyclopaedia. The latter, in particular, has enabled translators to ease their workload and optimise their productivity.
Exploitation Route The findings may help researchers understand the impact of automation on the practices of volunteer translators in online communities such as Wikipedia. More broadly, the outcomes of this funding may be of interest to software developers, social scientists, linguists and translators. For instance, the reported weaknesses and strengths of translation tools such as CX can give researchers a better understanding of the areas that need improvement.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

URL https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.846998
 
Description Academic debate (USACH, Chile) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I was one of two guest speakers in an international event that commemorated the translator's day. I spoke about my research in Spanish.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkZG9prXq2k&t=1888s
 
Description Academic presentation (Hong Kong Baptist University) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact First International Conference on Wikipedia Translation, organised by Hong Kong Baptist University.
I disseminated the outcomes of my doctoral research project and made plans for future collaboration and publication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ctn.hkbu.edu.hk/wikiconf2021/
 
Description Academic presentation (Massachusetts Amherst, MA, US) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented the preliminary outcomes of my doctoral research at the Graduate Student Conference on Translation Studies (UMass Amherst).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.cfplist.com/CFP/25008
 
Description Academic presentation (Southampton) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented at the 2021 GradNet Conference (University of Southampton), organised by PhD researchers. I disseminated the findings of my doctoral research and wrote a short paper to be published in the peer-reviewed Southampton journal Emergence later this year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.southampton.ac.uk/humanities_graduate_school/activities/academic%20activities/groups/gra...