Machine Translation and Literary Texts: A Network of Possibilities

Lucas Nunes Vieira

For years literary texts have been off limits for machine-translation editing. This is beginning to change, but research on this subject tends to focus on productivity. We know little of what technology does to literary texts. This project will examine how machine-translation editing and the way the text is presented to translators on screen affect literary translations.

The analysis of the translations will focus on two factors: entropy and creativity. Entropy in this context consists of the spread of overlapping renderings – lexical and syntactical – observed in different translations corresponding to the same source text. Creativity will be assessed by expert judges based on a method from creativity studies. With an interdisciplinary team that spans industry and academia, the project will shed new light on how technology affects literary translation. Its outputs include open-access datasets that will allow for future research and have a long-lasting impact on translation studies and beyond.

Lucas was due to present his work at the New Perspectives on Modern Languages Research conference in March 2020; however, the conference was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he has created the below video presentation to share his research.

Read more about Lucas's research here>>

Lucas Nunes Vieira (@lnunesvieira on Twitter) is Lecturer in Translation Studies with Technology at the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bristol. He researches machine translation and its impact on cognitive processes, professional standards and communication.