Participatory, self-organising, and learning: The patterns and influence of peer communication in online collaborative translation

Jun Yang

This article presents a case study on communication in online collaborative translation projects, drawing on a community of amateur Chinese translators called Yeeyan. Centring on the concept of ‘translaboration’, the study explores the collaborative dimension of translation by examining conversational discourse during the translation process. It argues that participants play the role not only of translators, but also of translaborators, who self-organise and resolve various kinds of issues through collaboration. The study uses dialogue act analysis and social network analysis to investigate the features and influence of communication that drive and shape translation and other collaborative activities. The findings show that communication can help mitigate organisational and quality risks in online collaborative translation. A learning process embedded in peer communication is also found. The study enriches existing knowledge of translaboration as a model of transdisciplinary research of collaborative practices in multi-agent relationships, collective problem-solving and knowledge communication.

Publication history
Table of contents

Technological connectivity has made engaging online communities in translation production a common and sustainable practice. By exploiting a huge reservoir of skills and competences, this once professional-dominated field now allows amateurs, trainees, fans and activists to work on the content production process. Various terms have been proposed to refer to this type of peer-translation practice, such as user-generated translation (O’Hagan 2009; Perrino 2009), community translation (O’Hagan 2011), open translation (Cronin 2010), volunteer translation (Pym 2011), non-professional translation (Pérez-González and Susam-Saraeva 2012), crowdsourcing translation (McDonough Dolmaya 2012) and online collaborative translation (Jiménez-Crespo 2017). McDonough Dolmaya and Del Mar Sánchez Ramos (2019, 131) suggest “online social translation,” which encompasses the contexts, scope and platforms of the aforementioned terms, to capture the social and collaborative nature of translation in online spheres.

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