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Desjardins, Renée (2017). Translation and Social Media. In Theory, in Training and in Professional Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 145, hardback and e-version. ISBN 978-1-137-52255-9.

In a globalised context where social media have become an essential everyday life activity for many people, looking into the connections between translation and social media is crucial. Translation and Social Media is a timely contribution to Translation Studies. As Desjardins puts it, the aim of the book is to explore how Online Social Media are “helping to reconfigure important aspects of the profession and the field: from impacting the texts and discourses that are being translated, to introducing new iconographic languages […] and to shifting the very identities of translators themselves” (5). Indeed, the book presents a broad picture of translation as a changing activity from different perspectives: theory, training and professional practice.

In her article on the trajectories of research in Translation Studies, Tymoczko (2005) talks about how translation would be redefined with the advancement of technology and globalisation. This book presents a strong example of how this is precisely the case. Desjardins ventures into the field of social media to identify where translation emerges and under which circumstances, while at the same time looking at how these social media exchanges alter the very nature of translation.

After an introduction (Chapter 1) in which the author elaborates on the need for studying the connections between translation and social media, Chapter 2 goes deeper into these relations and lays the groundwork for the following chapters. It offers a historical overview of online social media platforms and provides a review of the existing literature that directly or indirectly deals with the relation between online social media and translation. Chapter 2 is targeted primarily at students, newcomers or researchers from other areas; experts in the fields of Translation Studies and collaborative translation would be familiar with most of the definitions and discussions reported in the review.

The three subsequent chapters (3, 4 and 5) each engage with the relationship between online social media and translation under the three themes mentioned above: theory, training and the profession. Theory is covered in Chapter 3: Desjardins describes how (human) communication is radically being reshaped by technology, in general, and online social media, in particular. She points out these changes have, by extension, a direct impact on translation. The chapter highlights the emergence of intersemiotic translation in online social media settings and the disruptive role of crowdsourcing for the translation profession. The aspects related to training are discussed in Chapter 4. Desjardins makes a point about the need for integrating online social media into the translation classroom. The chapter shows how social media literacy and competences can support and complement the training of translators. It provides examples and strategies of how this integration can take shape and help in the development of general critical thinking. The professional practice of translation is covered in Chapter 5. Desjardins studies how professional translators have not only assimilated the changes that online social media have prompted in the translation profession, but also how they have adapted to use these changes to their benefit. Apart from this, she also analyzes the impact of online social media on the Translation Studies community. Finally, a short conclusion is included in Chapter 6. Apart from offering a brief account of the chapters, it suggests further areas of research for social media and translation.

This book is a good guide to understand how translation is being reshaped as a result of the evolution of social media. Newcomers, translation students and researchers who are not familiar with the area will be able to use it as a map to understand the ramifications of the issues being discussed. Experts in the area will also find thought-provoking pieces of information and advice. From a research perspective, the book tackles some of the issues that, with the growth of user-generated translation, are becoming increasingly relevant in Translations Studies: intersemiotic translation, visibility, professionalism, equivalence, quality etc. References to these issues can be found from the introduction to the very last chapter of the book. Some of them are treated in detail, while others are addressed just in passing.

The innovative aspects related to translator training and social media have the potential to inform trainers. As trainers, we are becoming ever more conscious about the relevance of soft and transferable skills for future translators. Desjardins makes a case for training “multimodal and multisemiotic” translators. She provides the reader with useful tips and suggestions on how this could be achieved. The examples from her class experiences and the account of how professionals have adapted will help both trainers and practitioners. Although the experiences reported focus on the Canadian market, the advice can be easily transferred to other contexts.

The book is a forward-thinking proposal to consider translation and the translation profession in the 21st century. It provides a balanced portrayal of what is going on with translation today, considering both positive and detrimental aspects that are emerging from the overlaps of translation and social media.

  • Tymoczko, Maria. 200. Trajectories of Research in Translation Studies. Meta: Journal des traducteurs 50:4.1082–1097.

David Orrego-Carmona
Aston University, UK
University of the Free State, South Africa