In today’s globalised world, translation is everywhere. Whether we’re using Google Translate, a professional interpreter, or the help of friends or family, we usually assume that translation is a straightforward, reliable process. But no two languages are the same, and translators are always making choices. Translation Studies research is about putting the spotlight on translation; it is about asking what happens when we (or our machines) translate, what is at stake, and what translation reveals about human beings and the societies we have constructed.
As an academic discipline, Translation Studies intersects with research across all areas of the university, whether medicine, the sciences, the social sciences, or the arts and humanities. As one of the largest hubs for translation studies research in the UK, UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies (CenTraS) is emblematic of that breadth and variety. Find out more about our core research themes by clicking on the tabs below, or join us at one of our free public lectures.
- Audiovisual Translation
We are interested in Audiovisual Translation (AVT) understood as an umbrella term to refer to a wide range of practices related to the translation of audiovisual material. In this regard, AVT entails making audiovisual material accessible to people who do not speak the language of the original text through practices such as subtitling, dubbing and voiceover, among others. In addition, AVT involves making audiovisual content accessible to people with sensory impairments through modes such as subtitling for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences and audio description for people with limited access to visual information.
Within this cluster, Media Accessibility and AVT are explored using a range of approaches, from Descriptive Translation Studies and corpus-based translation studies to perception and reception studies involving the use of tools such as eye-trackers. Approaches of this nature enable us to disentangle the specificities of AVT and to understand how current practices address the needs of heterogeneous and ever-changing audiences. We are also interested in the role played by technological developments in AVT, both as regards how these influence professional practices and how they change the current mediascape. Another area of interest within this research cluster is the investigation of the potential offered by AVT and Media Accessibility in language learning, both through exploratory and empirical studies.
MA modules that connect in particular with this research cluster include:
- CMII0091 Localisation
- CMII0093 Audio description for people with limited access to visual information
- CMII0095 Subtitling and captioning for d/Deaf and hard of hearing people
- CMII0097 Subtitling
- CMII0098 Translating for voiceover and dubbing
- CMII0099 Topics in Audiovisual Translation
- NextGenerationEU research project – AVT Pro – Professional Certification for Audiovisual Translators (2022-2024). PIs: Prof. Jorge Díaz-Cintas & Dr Noelia Marqués Cobeta (University of Zaragoza).
- Translation and Adaptation for Dubbing (TAD), funded by Netflix (ongoing since 2021): PIs: Prof. Jorge Díaz-Cintas, Prof. Frederic Chaume & Dr Rocío Baños-Piñero.
- TRADILEX - Audiovisual Translation as a Didactic Resource in Foreign Language Education (2019-22): PI: Dr Noa Talaván (Universidad de Educación a Distancia, UNED).
- Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Fund Project – Exploring audience preferences when watching online videos: dubbing vs. subtitling (2018-19): PIs: Dr Rocío Baños-Piñero & Prof. Jorge Díaz-Cintas.
- EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Exploring Subtitle Reading Process with Eyetracking Technology (SURE, 2016-18). PIs: Prof. Jorge Díaz-Cintas & Prof. Agnieszka Szarkowska (University of Warsaw U).
- Project funded by the Spanish Government - PluriTAV – Audiovisual Translation as a tool to develop plurilingual competence in the language classroom (2016-19). PI: Dr Juan José Martínez Sierra (Universidad de Valencia).
- EU Lifelong Learning Programme Research Project - ClipFlair: Foreign language learning through interactive revoicing and captioning of clips (2011-14). PI: Prof. Patrick Zabalbeascoa (Universidad Pompeu Fabra).
- Baños-Piñero, Rocío & Jorge Díaz-Cintas (eds) (2015), Audiovisual Translation in a Global Context - Mapping an Ever-changing Landscape.
- Bolaños-García-Escribano, Alejandro, Jorge Díaz-Cintas & Serenella Massidda (eds) (2021), Latest Advancements in Audiovisual Translation Education, special Issue of The Interpreter and Translator Trainer.
- Díaz-Cintas, Jorge & Agnieszka Szarkowska (eds) (2020), Experimental Research in Audiovisual Translation – Cognition, Reception, Production, special issue of The Journal of Specialised Translation.
- Díaz-Cintas, Jorge & Aline Remael (2021), Subtitling: Concepts and Practices.
- Martínez-Sierra, Juan José (ed) (2021), Multilingualism, Translation and Language Teaching.
- Zárate, Soledad (2021), Captioning and Subtitling for d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Audiences.
Research Theme Members
- Dr Alejandro Bolaños García-Escribano
- Prof. Frederic Chaume
- Dr Serenella Massidda (Honorary)
- Dr Renata Mliczak
- Dr Marga Navarrete
- Dr Kristijan Nikolić (Honorary)
- Dr Irene Ranzato (Honorary)
- Prof. Agnieszka Szarkowska (Honorary)
- Dr Soledad Zárate
Research Theme Leads
- Global Health and Crisis Translation
This research cluster brings together scholars researching intercultural communication of health-related content in local, regional, national, or global contexts. CenTraS researchers focus on the relationship between crisis risks and emergency communication (or CERC) and intercultural and multilingual contexts. Marginalised communities, migrants, ethnic minorities and temporary foreign residents may become vulnerable when crises erupt, and urgent information circulates in formats or languages that many do not understand. By investigating how translation, interpreting, and multimodal forms of communication make sharing of crucial information possible, we explore the role of people and practices in CERC contexts. We carry out collaborative projects involving practitioners, charitable and NGO personnel and social scientists, political scientists, medical professionals, and researchers. We are also interested in connections between translation as risk reduction, interpreting in emergency responses, and ethics of technology-driven crisis communication in multilingual contexts. We investigate research methods to understand the emotive and cognitive impact of translated information in multilingual contexts of crisis. Our studies also focus on the impact of data collection practices in the multilingual settings of global health research and intervention. MA and MSc modules particularly connected with this research cluster include CMII0096 Medical Translation and CMII0100 Crisis Translation.
- British Academy STRIVE Project (2021-2022) aims to understand the impact of translated information on COVID-19 vaccination in foreign residents in Italy. Dr Andrea Ciribuco (CenTraS Honorary Researcher) and Dr Valeria Reggi (University of Bologna, Italy/UCL alumna) hold post-doctoral positions in the project, coordinated by Federico M. Federici.
- CenTraS/UCL Rare Dementia Support Translation Collaboration (2021- ongoing) is a project funded by an Arts & Humanities Education Enhancement grant and the National Brain Appeal. As part of the project, CenTraS students translate website content for Rare Dementia Support website. The project is coordinated by Research Theme Cluster member Olivia Cockburn.
- Multilingualism and Healthcare Communication in West Africa (2017 – ongoing). Initiated by a Wellcome Prime Scholar award, this collaboration with Dr Emilie Sanon and Prof. Aristide Yoda (University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and Professor Avea Nsoh (University of Education, Winneba, Ghana) aims to investigate the extent to which translation and interpreting needs are being overlooked in strategic healthcare communication planning and to identify examples of best practice in addressing such needs at local level. The project is coordinated by Research Theme Cluster member Prof. Kathryn Batchelor.
- Decolonising Disaster Risk Reduction in Sierra Leone (2020-2024): Supported and funded by: Brot für die Welt and the German Civil Peace Service, United Nations Development Programme, National Disaster Management Agency Sierra Leone, YMCA Sierra Leone, UCL Grand Challenges Fund, UCL Global Engagement Funds 2020/2021, and UCL's Africa & Middle East Teaching Initiative 2021, this project aims to increase preparedness and stimulated debate around themes of risk reduction among the local multilingual population. Pious Mannah (YMCA SL) and Jonas Knauerhase (CenTraS Honorary Researchers) manage the project locally, coordinated by Research Theme Cluster member Federico M. Federici, advised by Prof. Kathryn Batchelor, Prof. Jorge Díaz-Cintas, Dr Christophe Declercq at CenTraS and Prof. Sharon O’Brien, Dr Patrick Cadwell at Dublin City University.
- Horizon 2020 RISE INTERACT (2017-2020) was a project coordinated by Prof. Sharon O’Brien (Dublin City University/CenTraS Honorary Senior Lecturer) that created a network of researchers investigating translation of health-related content in crisis settings. Federico M. Federici was co-investigator of the project and together with cluster members Dr Emm Patiniotaki, and Dr Khetam Al Sharou, UCL’s members focused on policies, crisis communication strategies, and crisis translation training needs.
- Language Crisis Map (2019). Seed funding from UCL's Innovation and Enterprise Fund, and support from ExCiteS colleagues at UCL Depart of Geography, enabled us to recruit GIS specialist Will Low to develop a framework, process and standards for mapping of language data in crisis context. Will Low worked with Eric DeLuca (Translators without Borders), coordinated by Research Theme Cluster member Federico M. Federici and Elli Kemp (Translators Without Borders).
- Language as a Social Determinant of Health
- Translation, Interpreting and Languages in Local Crises
- Batchelor K., Yoda L.A., Sanon Ouattara F.E.G., Hellewell O. (2019), Multilingualism and strategic planning for HIV/AIDS-related health care and communication
- Federici, F. M., Declercq, C., Díaz Cintas, J., Baños Piñero, R. (2022), Ethics, Automated Processes, Machine Translation, and Crises.
- Federici, F. M., O'Brien, S., Cadwell, P., Marlowe, J., Gerber, B., & Davis, O. (2019). INTERACT Recommendations on Crisis Communication Policies.
- Federici, F. M., Gerber, B. J., O'Brien, S., & Cadwell, P. (2019). The International Humanitarian Sector and Language Translation in Crisis Situations. Assessment of Current Practices and Future Needs. INTERACT Network. http://doi.org/10.53241/INTERACT/001
Research Theme Lead
- Theatre Translation and Translation in the Creative Industries
Theatre translation research at UCL expands on the examination of the translated spoken word on stage to investigate the cultural contexts and physical environments within which translation takes place in the creative industries. We interrogate notions of adaptation and creativity and investigate how concepts of performance as interpretation intersect with the practice and theory of interlingual and intralingual translation. This cluster includes research into translation practices taking place in the creative industries, including intermedial surtitles, song and musical translation, literary and poetry translation and translation for the stage. We encourage collaboration with practitioners and welcome practice-led projects. MA modules that connect with this research cluster include CMII0116 Translating Literary Culture and CMII0142 Translating Performance.
- Theatre Translation Forum (2013-19): a series of interdisciplinary workshops and seminars for theatre practitioners and researchers, convened by Research Theme cluster member Geraldine Brodie
- PhD research project (2017-20): Joana Morêdo Pereira, ‘Show of hands: The power of the performing arts in signed languages’. Funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology, Portuguese Ministry of Education).
- PhD research project (2020-23): Daria Chernysheva, ‘Temporal and Visual Mutinies: Translating Cécile Sauvage into the Twenty-First Century’. Funded by UCL Overseas Research Scholarship.
- Adapting Translation for the Stage, co-edited by Research Theme cluster member Geraldine Brodie [link: https://www.routledge.com/Adapting-Translation-for-the-Stage/Brodie-Cole...
- UCL Press Literature and Translation series, co-edited by Research Theme cluster member Geraldine Brodie [link: https://www.uclpress.co.uk/collections/series-literature-and-translation]
Research Theme Lead
- Translation Process Research
Translation process research (TPR) is also known as process research, process-oriented translation studies, cognitive translation studies, translation cognition, translation psychology, translators’ studies, and more recently computational and cognitive translatology (Munoz Martin 2010a: 169-187). This is a cluster of research in translation studies that encompasses a broad spectrum of empirical and experimental investigations that fundamentally perceives translators and interpreters as human being. It aims to understand how, why and in what circumstances translators and interpreters do what they do from the interdisciplinary perspectives of cognition, behaviour, affect/emotion, sociology, and (neuro)physiology. At UCL, we have adopted digital research instruments, such as eye tracking and screen recording along with more traditional verbal report methods in examining translators and interpreters’ interaction with computer applications, or their ‘tools of trade’, tapping into the wider research theme of how technology has shaped and changed the way translators and interpreters learn and work in the increasingly digitalised world today.
- ‘Translation and Interpreting as Social Interaction: Affect, Behaviour and Cognition’ (forthcoming). This is a book co-edited by two staff members of this cluster, Dr Claire Shih and Dr Caiwen Wang.
- ‘Navigating the Web: an eye tracking-based study of translators’ web search behaviour’ (forthcoming): This is a monograph authored by the Research Theme Lead, Dr Claire Shih.
- ‘Exploring subtitle reading with eye tracking technology’: This project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702606. It is carried out by Agnieszka Szarkowska at the Centre for Translation Studies, University College London, under the supervision of Prof. Jorge Díaz Cintas
Research Theme Lead
- Translation, History and Heritage
In this research cluster, we are interested in studying translations as historical objects. Using a range of approaches that include microhistory and histoire croisée, we consider translated products to be concrete traces of intercultural interactions from the past. By investigating how and why they came to be, and by paying attention to the details of their physical presence, we explore how translations can enrich our historical understanding of political and cultural developments. We are also interested in connections between translation and memory, and the ways in which translation is implicated in processes of both remembering and forgetting. We are particularly interested in questions of heritage, exploring the roles played by translators and interpreters in museums, galleries and archives. We investigate the entanglements between Western heritage and colonial legacies, and ask how translators and interpreters are to handle the huge ethical responsibility of interpreting and framing artefacts whose very existence is testament to material or symbolic violence inflicted against other peoples. MA modules that connect in particular with this research cluster include CMII0113/0114 Translation in History and CMII0162 Translation for the Cultural and Heritage Sectors.
Selected Projects / Publications
- Exploring the Untold Stories of Sissinghurst’s Long Library: Anglo-German intellectual and cultural exchange in the 1920s-30s (2022): UCL-National Trust partnership initiative, funded by UCL’s Centre for Critical Heritage Studies. Led by Research Theme cluster member Kathryn Batchelor
- Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (2021-2023): Dr Akkad Alhussein, ‘Translation and Memory: Strategies of Remembering and Forgetting in Contemporary Arab Migrant Literature’
- British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2016-21): Dr Tzu-yu Lin, ‘The Voices of Translators - Re-writing Colonial Cultural Memory in Japanophone Taiwanese Literature’
- Translating Frantz Fanon across Continents and Languages
- Languages and the First World War: Representation and Memory , co-edited by Research Theme cluster member Christophe Declercq
Research Theme Lead
- Translation Theory and Philosophy
We are interested in exploring the nature of translation on both an abstract philosophical level and as a historically and socially situated practice. We see translation as a creative process, and we acknowledge the situatedness of ourselves as researchers. We explore how theories of translation interconnect with theoretical ideas developed in other fields of enquiry such as literary criticism, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, gender studies and philosophy. Topics in which we specialise include equivalence and authorised translation, paratexts, translator positioning, translation geopolitics, and decolonisation. Our work in translation philosophy connects primarily with continental philosophy, and we have particular interests in Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin, and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The MA modules which link most closely with this research cluster are CMII0115 Translation Theory and CMII0116 Translating Literary Culture.
- The Conference of the Tongues, book by research cluster emeritus professor Theo Hermans
- Translation in Systems: Descriptive and Systemic Approaches Explained, book by Theo Hermans, with Foreword to Routledge Classics Edition by research cluster member Kathryn Batchelor
- Decolonizing Translation, book by Kathryn Batchelor
- Translation and Paratexts, book by Kathryn Batchelor
- ‘Schleiermacher and Plato, Hermeneutics and Translation’, book chapter by Theo Hermans
- ‘Re-reading Jacques Derrida’s ‘Qu’est-ce qu’une traduction “relevante”?’ (What is a ‘relevant’ translation?)’, article by Kathryn Batchelor
Research Theme Lead
- Translation Technology
We are interested in theoretical, vocational and methodological questions arising out of the technologisation of translation and research, and these questions cut across all of our research clusters. Our researchers have access to highly advanced digital research instruments such as eye-trackers and combine these with other technologies in studies of translation processes (see Translation Process Research cluster for further details). Translation technology also plays a key role in the research clusters on Audiovisual Translation and Global Health/Crisis Translation (see those clusters for further details). Our researchers and teaching staff regularly work with leading industry providers to pilot new technological developments and these are incorporated into our MA/MSc programme design.
CenTraS staff have published their research in monographs and as contributions to edited books and peer-reviewed journals. Some of their work is classed among standard references in the field and has been translated into a range of languages. See the individual staff pages for details.
Lectures and Research Seminars
The schedule for this year’s research seminars and guest lectures can be viewed here.