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From Translation Competence to Digital Literacy

From Translation Competence to Digital Literacy

Digital literacy has become an indispensable competence of our digital age with the digitalization period which started in the 1950s. Especially if you are a translator, researcher, academician, or a cyborg, there is no escaping it. The Covid-19 outbreak has caused a paradigm shift, which has accelerated digitalization in the world. In the translation sector, as in all sectors, we have begun hearing absurd questions like “Will robots take our jobs?” etc. There is a more critical issue on this topic that we should discuss, write about, and ponder: the relationship between digital literacy and translation competence. Translation competence is an important subject that is also emphasized by academicians during the training period. However, if we want to take this further, we need an interdisciplinary perspective to apprise us of new possibilities. We can then seek out novel approaches to the same subject. For example, when we talk about translation competence today, we see that we are dealing with more than the act of translation: machine learning, the ability to use digital platforms, the ability to question, research, and corroborate. Yes, the digital age has varied effects on all sectors, our psychology, our work speed, daily life, relationships, and more. But in this post-capitalist world, if we want to take control, we should examine, see the underlying reasons, and try to build a bridge between the past and present instead of being lost at sea. In this article, we will frame digital literacy and translation competence together. If digitalization is a part of being a translator, we shouldn’t be stuck in this system. But we also shouldn’t hesitate to move with the flow of time.

Translation Competence

When we talk about translation competence, we directly refer to the theoretical and target-oriented approach of Israeli Gideon Toury. We will not bother discussing its theoretical details. Instead, we will handle it in a very simplistic way to show the connection to digital literacy. As a pioneer of descriptive translation studies, Toury brought new approaches to the concept of translation in the 80s. Working with Itamar Even-Zohar, the developer of the plural system theory, he presented a study on translation and interculturalism. Toury was mainly working on the position of translation in the target culture, and he tried to compare the source and target texts. When we look at Toury’s work, which primarily deals with target-oriented approaches, we come across two important concepts: “acceptability” and “adequateness”. According to Toury, if the translation complies more with the norms of the source text, then it is an acceptable translation, whereas if the translation is closer to the norms of the target text, he calls it an adequate translation. Of course, it is possible to define translation competence in various ways. Also, the norms and the definitions should change (or be adapted) according to the dynamics of the period, right? We cannot talk about stable theories and concepts in this fast world. As such, the concept of translation competence has transformed itself in our rapidly changing world with digitalization and the pandemic outbreak. This is an entirely different and far-reaching matter, but here we will only discuss it in the scope of its relationship to digital literacy.  

Digital Literacy

We have been talking about translation competency and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) competence in nearly every sector. We have begun to talk about hybrid learning methods, hybrid jobs. We try to bring diversity to our lives, and digital literacy in particular has a vital role in our new journey. Most researchers underline the importance of gaining experience during the learning process. Although not everyone has been aware of it, thanks to digital media, we have been able to experience the things we have learned thus far. ICT provides a structural learning method that we can personalize and improve ourselves. For example, to improve our language capacity, we don’t only read but also use audio-visual materials. By using digital tools that build a bridge between cultures, we can easily integrate them into our daily lives and put them into action.

Translation is a timeless concept that can constantly be improved. Machine translations and translation memories can only accelerate the process and take us one step forward in time. However, improving the quality of the translation is in the translators’ hands. The important thing is how we use ICT; it is not enough to know some CAT Tools such as SDL Trados Studio, Memsource, Transit, MateCat, memoQ, Wordfast, OmegaT, or Déjà vu, though it is a plus. The more important thing is what we use, how we use it, and why, carrying the act of translation one step further by examining everything we found on the internet. As translators, rather than readily accepting the data without questioning, we should research more, be more skeptical. Therefore, we should be twice as sensitive, twice as digitally literate, and twice as inquisitive. Competency is an endless journey, and translation should always stay one step ahead of it.

From Translation Competence to Digital Literacy