Non-professional subtitling and translation studies - a matter of convergence


An online public lecture organised by the Transnational Cultural & Visual Studies research theme at Cardiff University.

Non-professional translation networks operate at a global scale, across languages, cultures and borders, and heavily influence global media distribution. This talk will introduce key concepts to understand non-professional translation in relation to other terms such as volunteer translation and crowdsourcing to focus on non-professional subtitling and its impact on media and translation.

Non-professional subtitling creates connections that make possible the materialisation of alternative media flows and the democratisation of access in the digital world. This enabling power of non-professional subtitling highlights the relevance of translation as a social activity in the 21st Century and the potential it has to bring people together in a world mediated by technologies.

Non-professional subtitling is a controversial topic. It is sometimes argued that non-professionals undermine the position and value of the profession. However, professional and non-professional translation practices co-exist in a complex convergence of production and consumption. Outside the boundaries of the professionalisation of translation practices, which can largely be considered a Western concept, and in the realm of the informal economy, translation has a primarily communicational role. This borderless communication has become essential in a society enhanced by digital technologies.

This talk zooms into that role of translation in the context of media and through the exploration of audiences. It approaches non-professional subtitling as a key component in the informal distribution of media and a manifestation of the participatory culture. Through these considerations, the talk aims to contribute to the conceptualisation of translation as a human activity to revisit cornerstones of translation studies, such as visibility, quality and professionalisation.

David Orrego-Carmona
Assistant professor in translation

My research interests include translation technologies, subtitling, non-professional translation and training.