Why Do They Translate in Collaboration? An Ethnographic Study of Yeeyan

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With the popularity of online participatory media, an increasing number of volunteer translators have organized themselves on the Internet and joined in a variety of online translation communities. This research focuses on collaborative translation activities in one such community in the Chinese context, Yeeyan, and explores why translators participate and how these motivations develop through the collaboration process, while also reflecting on the methodological issues involved in conducting such a study.
The paper begins by presenting a metamap of collaborative translation so as to clarify the nature of the phenomenon addressed in this research. It then proceeds with a detailed account of the research process, focusing on the application of an ethnographic methodology that combines participant-observation, interviews and questionnaires. In using this approach, the data was first gathered by the researcher through active participation in the community’s translation and editing activities. Then a series of interviews and questionnaires with the same group of participants was conducted for more clarification of post-collaboration exchanges. Finally, when the data was analysed and interpreted, the emphasis was placed on translators’ communications and behaviours, through which their motivations for participation are revealed. The study finds that motivation here is not a static object, but a dynamic development process. During the collaboration, individual motivations are sustained or changed, new motivations emerge and joint motivations develop. In addition, from a methodological perspective, the findings suggest that active participant-observation could provide the researcher with detailed insights into translators’ interactions and the entire collaboration process.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2016
EventARTIS@HKBU2016 Researching Collaborative Translation - Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Duration: 7 Apr 20168 Apr 2016


SymposiumARTIS@HKBU2016 Researching Collaborative Translation
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


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