Translation and interpreting: a dialogue between China and the world

July 13, 2021

How can we improve translation and interpreting education? How do we combine human translation and translation technology? How can we deliver graduates with language proficiency and practical skills that meet changing industry demands? How do we tell Chinese stories to the world?

These are the questions posed by Youyi Huang, Vice President of Translators Association of China, during a workshop on translation and interpreting in the digital age at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in June.

Organised by XJTLU’s Department of Translation and Interpreting in theSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Translation Technology Education Society Affiliated to World Interpreter and Translator Training Association, the workshop saw researchers and industry representatives come together to discuss key issues in translation technologies.

In his presentation, Huang told audiences that translation is living through a period of revolutionary upheaval – and the impact of digital technology on translation is widespread and profound.

“We are living in the digital age, which has great demands for translation, interpreting studies and education,” he said.

“On the other hand, a changing international landscape also raises new challenges in our profession in terms of how we can adapt to better serve the needs of society and our country.

“The digital age has created rapid advances in technology, in turn boosting the development of the translation and interpreting industry.”

Dr Beibei Tang, Dean of XJTLU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said translation and interpreting can create a dialogue between China and the rest of the world.

“Translation and interpreting help us know more about the role China plays in today’s world,” she said.

“It can shed light on how China interacts and communicates with the world when trying to balance internationalisation and localisation at the same time. It also offers insight into how the international world reacts, perceives and responds to China, and how that then impacts China’s strategy.

“In this context, translation and interpreting are not just language tools or techniques, but the bridge to connect different culture exchanges.”

The workshop explored a range of topics including the revolution of translation education, film translation, video game localisation, and artificial intelligence in technical communication.

According to Dr Xiaojun Zhang, who organised the workshop on behalf of the Department of Translation and Interpreting, the broad application of digital technology and the rapid development of AI has fundamentally altered the discipline of translation and interpreting.

He said the way translation education is delivered must evolve to ensure graduates have the skills to use intelligent translation technology employed in the language service industry.

“Understanding how trends in digital humanity, connectionism and AI merge with traditional translation and providing cutting-edge translation technology training must be key elements of the education we give our students,” he said.

“It’s our duty to provide a platform for translators, interpreters, translation educators and teachers, translation scholars, and translation industry partners to discuss the new topics of translation and interpreting in the digital age so we can meet the challenges of our time.”

More than 100 on-site delegates and 300 online registered participants attended the workshop, which was supported by an enthusiastic team of volunteering students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

By Ying Jiang

July 13, 2021