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Conference Papers Year : 2019

The Cultural Translation Industry


Since cultures are liquid processes which consist in partially-shared and evolving frames of reference being used creatively for sensemaking in human interactions, any attempt to fix and systematise their description with a view to transposition from one culture to another seems doomed to fail. This is especially problematic for web localisation, defined as “taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold” (LISA 2003), since the localisation industry claims, in effect, to translate between cultures by adapting digital products to other national cultural frames. Tools purportedly used - and advertised - by localisation professionals typically derive from comparative paradigms of cross-cultural communication, whose limits, when applied to the micro-social level of communication, have been widely documented (Dervin & Machart, 2015). Such tools are clearly incapable of balancing macro-level “cultural” customisation against the demands and preferences of a given market segment or category of website, or against the source or target market positioning of a specific organisation, service or product. Academic literature on the cultural dimension of web localisation covers both theory-driven deductive and data-driven inductive approaches to the question of national cultural differences (cf. Moura, Singh, & Chun, 2016 for a comprehensive review), yet largely ignores the potential of liquid approaches in accounting (localising, translating, trans-creating) for shifting frames of reference. This proposal will adopt a critical intercultural approach to web localisation, showing how the grounded and performative cultural dynamics of human communication, intimately linked with identities (Frame, 2014) can and should be taken into account when seeking to adapt a website to new publics (Frame & Ihlen, 2018). It will thus move beyond existing literature in the field and open new perspectives by applying a liquid approach to culture in this professional domain.
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hal-02420384 , version 1 (30-12-2019)


  • HAL Id : hal-02420384 , version 1


Will Noonan, Alexander Frame. The Cultural Translation Industry: Liquefying the Cultural Dimension of Localisation. Translating Cultures, Cultures in Translation, Nov 2019, Valence, Spain. ⟨hal-02420384⟩


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