Translator autonomy in the age of behavioural data

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Abstract

Translation behaviour is increasingly tracked to benchmark productivity, to calculate pay or to automate project management decisions. Although in many cases these practices are commonplace, their effects are surprisingly under-researched. This article investigates the consequences of activity tracking in commercial translation. It reports on a series of focus-group interviews involving sixteen translators who used productivity tools to independently monitor their work for a period of sixteen weeks. Our analysis revealed several ways in which the act of tracking activity can itself influence translators’ working practices. We examine translators’ conceptualisations of productivity and discuss the findings as a matter of translator autonomy. The article calls for further awareness of individual and collective consequences of monitoring translation behaviour. Although in some contexts translators found activity tracking to be useful, we argue that client-controlled tracking and translator autonomy are in most cases incompatible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTranslation, Cognition & Behavior
Early online date19 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • translator autonomy
  • translation productivity
  • behavioural data
  • activity tracking
  • translation technology
  • CAT tools

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