How do translators use web resources? Evidence from the performance of English-Chinese translators

Vincent X. Wang, Lily Lim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Translators today can take advantage of a wide range of web-based and stand-alone electronic resources - which are now readily accessible from their workstations - to facilitate and enhance their professional practice. Their work increasingly benefits from the use of translation memory (TM) (cf. Laviosa 2011; Olohan 2011; O’Brien 2013), large online monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, specialized glossaries, comparable and parallel corpora, machine translation (MT) tools, and even social networking and cloud technology. In terms of English-Chinese translation, major online English-Chinese dictionary portals incorporate authentic translation examples, which are retrieved from large Chinese-English parallel corpora that have been constructed using translated texts in various genres. The dictionary portals, such as Youdao dictionary, Baidu dictionary, Jiu Hai, JuKuu, Ai Ciba and Zhongguo Yidian, usually provide open access, and tend to pop up as top search results. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these web resources are frequently used by practising translators; scholarly research has also pointed towards the tangible benefits of such web resources for translators (cf. Alcina 2008). However, empirical studies of translators’ actual use of, and interaction with, these resources are still much needed (cf. Olohan 2011: 343). If this is true of translation in general, then it is even truer of translation in non-European languages. Most of the existing research that looks at how translators interact with tools and resources focuses on European languages, as used in Europe or Canada, for example Désilets and colleagues (2009) and the prior research cited in that source, as well as more recent work also conducted in Canada by LeBlanc (2013, this volume) and doctoral work that runs the gamut from all of the official languages of the European Union (Valli 2013) to a single majority-minority language pair in Ireland (de Barra-Cusack 2014). But despite the size of the Chinese translation market, thus far there is very little published work on how Chinese translators use web resources. A signal merit of the European-focused sources listed is, however, that they focus on professional translators in their normal workplaces, thus increasing the ecological validity of the research. There is no doubt that such workplace-based research would also be beneficial in the Chinese context, but, given the very early stage of relevant research in the Chinese-speaking world, there is still much to be gained from more ‘experimental’ research, in which tasks are designed by researchers to enable them to observe behaviours in particular scenarios and in which participants can be selected in very targeted ways. This is important for the purposes of this study, because we wish to investigate, among other things, the use of web resources by translators into Chinese from different age cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Issues in Translation Technology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781317302506
ISBN (Print)9781138123298
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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