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Beyond Translation

Is there a future for translators? The answer will depend on which perspective you take on this question. Translation is a vital practice, which has also played a critical role in causing revolutionary upheavals. After the Covid-19 lockdown, digitalization became turbocharged. Not only has the act of translation become more visible, but it has also become more accessible thanks to various machine translations and social media platforms. So, the aim of this article is not to blame or judge this endless stream of technological innovations but to understand the intertwined relationship between translation, cultures, languages, and societies. In the translation world, technology is indispensable, but of course, it depends on your position. Like any other discipline, there are two viewpoints: looking at the act of translation in the past or in the future. As you may predict, the backward view sees the engagement between technology and translation like a fallen state of translation affairs. In contrast, the forward view has a more optimistic outlook, perceiving it as a chance to embrace new opportunities. Our viewpoint has shaky foundations. So, when we discuss and analyze this practice currently, we should look further ahead and focus on its role in a local region and the changes in the society, language, and culture in this specific region. It is critical to narrow this analysis down because it has varied characteristics in different fields, including world literature. In the second paragraph of our article, we will focus on its present position in Turkish society.

Translation in Turkish Society

Throughout the history of humankind, people have always used different tools to survive. Remember the most important inventions that have changed the future of humanity: the invention of fire, writing, the printing press, etc. Each of these inventions led to another, and people began to control nature and live as they pleased. Communication has also changed with these developments. For example, translation in Turkish society was strikingly different from the Republican period to today’s digital age. People started to practice translation officially in Turkey with the beginning of Westernization efforts in the 18th century, and these practices accelerated in the Republican period. Translation has a very long story which is why we prefer to look at it within Turkish society in the current digital age. Starting in the mid-20th century, our digital age has brought translation and material culture together. So, in today’s world, many people have debated whether the act of translation is more about utility or function. However, to answer this question, translation theorists focused more on its role in Turkish society during the digital era and discussed whether translators have active roles in society or not. Digital tools have undeniably made people’s lives easier. Just think about the opportunities you have; by using digital technologies, you can be omnipotent. You can search anything whenever you want on the internet and discuss ideas with people around the world. This age has also brought us a borderless, limitless world. As a result, we face the danger of sameness. So as people, we should act in this era by finding the best ways to use technology, trade, and translation together. Moreover, we must consider how we can use these inseparable materials on behalf of our society by keeping their abilities to convert everything and variability in mind. 

Machine Translation in Turkish Society During the Digital Age

Although the digital age started in the middle of the 20th century, not every society could adapt to this transformation immediately. The first time Turkish society was introduced to the computer (IBM – 650 Data Processing Machine) was in the 1960s, and then society’s struggle with its regional policies and problems began. For example, the first Turkish coup d’état. Of course, not only these devices but also the Turkish language was affected by these events. However, the local and global sides of these developments are linked to one another. To see how these correlations work, we can look at the current situation globally: Covid-19. Within this period, countries have become more interdependent, and thanks to digital platforms, people have been able to communicate with each other in these trying times. Cognitive studies, data analysts, and leading companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Systran, etc. came together to upgrade and enhance their machine translations. So, is there a future for translators? In today’s world, we should not ask this question without elaborating, but rather address questions such as how many Turkish people use these tools, for what purpose, and how often do they use them?

Beyond Translation

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