Collaborative translation: approaches and perspectives

Head: Francesco Laurenti

Year 2020

Collaborative translation can take a multitude of forms, many of which have not yet been explored, and a new awareness in this regard could lead today to "re-exploring" issues such as the notion of text and the relationship between the aesthetic aspects and the communicational purposes of a translation; the plurality of possible interpretations of a text and the questioning of the notion of the "unique" translator; the status of the translator's voice and the concept of authorship; the notions of "know-how" and "knowledge" in relation to the figure of the translator.

These are a few aspects that, when explored through the lens of collaboration, can be useful in understanding, and possibly addressing, recent perspectives generated by new workspaces modified by technology.

Translation studies research on collaborative translations throughout history could in fact contribute to a better understanding of the different processes and practices in today's global translation market. An understanding of the intrinsic plurality that has characterized the practice of translation since its origins is now crucial to interpret, and possibly direct, the "collaborative turn" that lies behind certain translation flows on a global scale.

Comprehensive investigations into plural practices of translation, which have tended to be isolated in translation histories for a long time, have only recently begun to show a nascent interest in certain shared activities. But collaborative translation remains the subject of an investigation that has been repeatedly hoped for rather than initiated.

Today, the global language market requires that the division of translation work be reshaped, and although many agencies still retain the three consecutive steps of translation, editing and proofreading, this model will have to give way to the work of “communities” of translators in the near future.

An alternative model already partially adopted by some of the major international translation agencies is the one defined with the acronym PCTP: "Plan", "Coordinate", "Translate" and "Publish" (Beninatto and De Palma). In practice, this involves the use of "communities" of translators working together on a given project with technological tools that offer the possibility of managing translations through web-based gateways and that allow collaboration through a series of modules capable of optimizing productivity.

The impact that the advent of new technologies has had on translation practices has been profound and has contributed to changing some of them towards a collaboration that is facilitated by the participatory and interactive nature of the web.

These changes raise new questions about these practices, as it is not even clear nowadays how widespread they are.


It is important to understand, and accept, that it will soon be too reductive to speak generically of a “translator” and that we must instead think of the translator's work as the work of a team made up of team managers and heads of unit, team coordinators and terminologists, supervising consultants and experts who will respond in real time to translators’ doubts.

In such a scenario, translators will need to be able to gain acceptance from the “communities” they will be working with in translation projects and will only work if they accept and are ready to collaborate with them.

One of the main features of this research is the interdisciplinary approach organically organised with reference to the field of investigation.

All participants in the research group are scholars from specific disciplines with a common interest in translation practice.

The research will be developed according to the following perspectives of investigation (which can potentially be integrated with others during the research).

The participants in the research will share the investigation of some of the following areas: 

  • Multilingual texts (as a form of collaboration)
  • Collaborative translations in history
  • Author-translator collaborative translations
  • Collaboration and new technologies
  • Collaborative editorial translation and proofreading (translators, editors, proofreaders)
  • Specialist technical translation teams (clients, project managers, terminologists, translators, etc.)
  • “Schools” of translation and collaboration (Bagdad School, Salerno School, Toledo School, etc.)
  • Translation “pairs” and co-translation
  • “Team” translations and co-translations
  • Retranslation as a form of co-translation
  • Translations from bridge languages as a form of collaboration
  • Translation workshops and collaborative translations
  • Collaborative translation and new technologies (crowdsourcing)
  • Human translator/technology "collaboration"
  • Theory of collaborative translation and translation studies
  • Audiovisual translation and collaboration
  • Oral translation (interpretation) and collaboration
  • Funsubbing and collaboration
  • Socialnetworks and collaborative translation
  • Intersemiotic translation and author-translator collaboration
  • Theatrical translations and collaboration
  • Teamwork and specialist translation
  • Translator communities and minority languages
  • Future perspectives of collaborative translation

The methodological approaches and the disciplinary differentiation of the scientific fields involved are intended to be an added value for the achievement of the Research.

  • Laura Gilli: Natura ibrida del testo letterario tradotto. Il paratesto come spazio di collaborazione tra editore, autore e traduttore (Seminario presso Università IULM, 29 marzo 2021)


The research will be carried out with the financial support of the Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM, Milan (Department of Humanities) and the co-financing of the Institut de Recherche en Langues et Littératures Européennes - ILLE (Université de Haute-Alsace of Mulhouse).


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Under construction


J. London, L’apostata, a c. di F. Pedone e S. Sacchini (traduzione degli allievi del Liceo “Da Vinci” di Civitanova Marche), Giaconi Editore, Recanati, 2021