Call for papers

The quest for meaning: where are our weak points and what do we need?

Context, co-text, speaker, listener, audience, references – these are some of the many parameters that create a first, telling paradox: meaning cannot be defined only as signification – not by a long shot. A second paradox is that the word translation can only be clearly and accurately defined for those unfamiliar with translation. In both cases it comes down to orientation, judgement and perception. In the translation profession, as we most broadly define it, it is still important to find meaning, in each and every sense of the word.

How are the multiple and standard approaches employed by translators to tackle their two-fold task of internalising and then restoring meaning undertaken, taught and learnt? Where do technological processes fit into this nowadays? What do they contribute? How are we trying to create and improve such processes? How do these processes work to uncover meaning? What do they need to achieve this? Can machines really imitate humans, or do they take a different approach altogether? What is the aim and what is the outcome? Are digital corpora in their current form sufficient, or do they need to be pre-processed?

Translation, in its narrowest definition, involves the semantic transfer of the content of a text in one language into another language. Much has been written on this question. A great deal remains to be said, however, on the profound changes that developments in language technology and language professions are having on what was hitherto perceived as a stable and predictable process.

The second Tralogy conference, organised jointly by the CNRS (IMMI and INIST), the SFT, the European Commission (DGT, EC Representation in France), Paris Diderot University (UFR EILA) and AFFUMT, intends to explore and debate these questions. Our aim – as it was when this biennial conference was held for the first time – is to create a dialogue, and we will take the above-mentioned multi-pronged approach to meaning as a starting point for discussions of these issues between specialists from different disciplines working at the very points where all of these issues and interests converge (translation, translator training, the language industry, automatic language processing, etc.), with the active participation of those directly concerned: language professionals, researchers, teachers, students, etc.

The conclusions of the first Tralogy Conference (3-4 March 2011 at the CNRS in Paris) were clear: none of the specialist branches of the language industry can individually hope to offer all the intellectual and professional tools needed to function effectively in the sector. They all need each other: translation has always been interdisciplinary and the translation profession even more so. Accordingly, on the occasion of the second Tralogy Conference, we would like to ask each of our prospective participants not only to present specific contributions from their specialist fields and research into the question of meaning, but also, and in particular, to highlight the limits they face in their specialist fields and research within the wider context of the potential applications of their work. What we would like to find out by the end of Tralogy II is what each of us does not know how to do. We are therefore hoping that, as we map out our respective weak points, these will coincide with the points of contact made at the Conference and with the areas in which there is room for improvement. We will therefore give priority to concise presentations (the published articles will of course be longer) in order to leave time for discussions. And the key question that emerged from Tralogy I will remain at the heart of this analysis: how to measure the quality of a translation with regard to its use.

Canada was the country invited to participate in Tralogy I. This time we would like to honour languages that are very much alive but with lower numbers of users. We have therefore decided to organise this conference under the joint patronage of the Baltic States, Member States of the European Union: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

TRALOGY II Scientific Committee

Nicolas Froeliger (Paris Diderot University)
Josep Bonet (DGT)
Alain Wallon (DGT)
Joseph Mariani (LIMSI & IMMI/CNRS)
Marianna Apidianaki (LIMSI/CNRS)
Jean-François Nominé (INIST/CNRS)
Dominique Durand-Fleischer (SFT)
Jean-Michel Daube (ER-TIM/INALCO)
Anca Greere (Cluj-Napoca University, Romania)
Sandrine Péraldi (ISIT-Paris Diderot University)
Thibault Grouas (DGLFLF)
Joseph Dichy (Lyon 2 University)
Ian Lane (CMU, USA)
Nijole Maskaliuniene (Vilnius University, Lithuania)
Andrejs Vasiljevs (TILDE, Latvia)
Arvi Tavast (Institute of the Estonian Language, Estonia)
James Archibald (McGill University, Canada)

Organising Committee

Nicolas Froeliger (Paris Diderot University)
Alain Wallon (DGT)
Joseph Mariani (LIMSI & IMMI/CNRS)
Jean-François Nominé (INIST/CNRS)
Dominique Durand-Fleischer (SFT)
Mojca Bozic (DGT)

Honorary Committee

Algirdas Saudargas (European Parliament)
Rimvydas Vastakas (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Lithuania) - to be confirmed
Xavier North (Delegate-General for the French Language and the Languages of France, ministry of Culture and Communication)

Contribution proposals

Proposals (500 words maximum, in French or English – the languages of the conference) should be sent to us by means of the attached form by 15 October 2012 at the latest. The outcome of the call for contributions will be announced by the end of October 2012.

We would like to receive proposals from three main categories of participants: (1) translators, (2) researchers, and (3) trainers, thus establishing a dialogue between two communities, i.e. specialists in human translation and researchers in the field of machine translation, or more broadly speaking experts in automatic language processing, IT tools and the language industry.

In addition to listening to participants discuss their particular fields of expertise, we would like to hear them discuss what they feel they are lacking in their specialist fields, which would help them address the problems that they are facing. Some of the questions below were asked at the first Tralogy Conference and remain relevant today; others relate more specifically to the theme of Tralogy II. We would like to receive proposals dealing with both categories of question.

The subjects that will be of interest at Tralogy II include:

From a general point of view:

  • At what level is the meaning that we aim to capture and restore during the translation process situated? Is it meaning at document, utterance, phrase or word level?
  • How do these different levels interact? Is interaction necessary for interpretation and restoration of an overall meaning?
  • What is the ideal context for clarifying the different types of ambiguities found?
  • Can the context needed to perceive and interpret meaning vary from one area to another?
  • Does the context in which translations will be used change the quality requirements of the translated texts?
  • etc.

    From the point of view of translators:
  • How can we deal with change?
  • How can we find information?
  • How can we reconcile large volumes of work and quality?
  • What could people working in technology and research invent for translators?
  • Are the terms translator and translation still relevant?
  • How can we better acknowledge professions that are in full flux?
  • Does the translator have to become an expert in the field in which he/she translates?
  • What position to take between machine translation and computer-assisted translation?
  • etc.

    From the point of view of researchers:
  • Where are we in terms of processing different languages? What are the trends? What are the foreseeable needs?
  • Listening, understanding, repeating, transcribing, drafting, summarising and interpreting for a machine?
  • Can a machine understand meaning or does meaning need to be explained to it?
  • How can meaning be taken into account in rule-based, statistical or hybrid translation systems?
  • How can meaning be taken into account in speech and simultaneous translation systems?
  • Do translation systems know how to go beyond the translation of phrases? Where are they at in terms of taking account of semantics and context? What are the repercussions for quality?
  • Can a machine specialise, have a field of expertise and do this as well as a specialist?
  • Is it possible to propose translations of new terms?
  • What is the purpose of digital corpora and how can they be processed?
  • What should be done if there are few data, few parallel corpora?
  • How can noisy parallel, quasi-comparable and comparable corpora be used?
  • How can the quality of technologies be measured when so many language pairs are involved?
  • What validation processes and who to entrust them to?
  • Which technologies can help with localisation tasks?
  • etc.

    From the point of view of translator trainers:
  • What pre-requisites are expected at the start of training for what skills at the end of training and how to go from one to the other?
  • How can we ensure teaching that really does create professionals while at the same time is genuinely university teaching?
  • How can we go from philology to translation and the translation profession?
  • How can we meet the demands of continuing education and distance learning and a wider range of language combinations?
  • Where are the links between teaching, research and practice?
  • How can we adapt training courses to produce translators who are able to adapt to changes in language technology and research in this field?
  • etc.