Mobile translation applications: On the verge of a post-Babel world 2.0?

Watts, Matthew (2022) Mobile translation applications: On the verge of a post-Babel world 2.0? PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Situated within the technological realm of Translation Studies, this thesis provides an analysis of the ways in which people are using Machine Translation (MT) on a mobile device. This is a growing area of use of MT, given the increased accessibility of the technology and the proliferation of mobile devices this millennium. The thesis explores the history of MT, how the technology works and how it has reached the point of being accessible to almost anyone almost anywhere in the world, exploring the fact that MT is a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and that the emergence of AI and specifically MT can be examined through the lens of mobility and ubiquitous connectivity.

This thesis offers an insight into how people are using the technology, what effects this may be having on their perceptions of translation and potential implications for the language barrier. It does this through two principal methods of data collection and analysis. The first is a survey of people’s use of MT on a mobile device, soliciting new data from them to enable a deeper understanding of how they use the technology, the particular features they use, their thoughts on its quality and limitations. The second is a more novel approach as it is an analysis of reviews left on the Google Play Store by users of two MT apps, Google Translate and Microsoft Translator, exploring what information can be gathered and analysed from an unsolicited dataset.

This thesis offers an initial study of this new way of interacting with the technology of MT and seeks to lay groundwork for future studies, including a categorisation tool and a taxonomy of MT use, to enable reliability and comparability across studies, platforms and time. Ultimately, it argues that the technology has improved substantially since its inception in 1954, but that it is too soon to say that we are on the verge of a post-Babel world 2.0. Rather, the technology is moving human society further in this direction and towards this possibility.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mével, Pierre-Alexis
Lee, Yvonne
Keywords: machine translation, MT, artificial intelligence, AI
Subjects: P Language and literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Item ID: 71181
Depositing User: Watts, Matthew
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2023 13:46
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2023 13:46

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