Translators on translation memory (TM). Results of an ethnographic study in three translation services and agencies


  • Matthieu LeBlanc Université de Moncton Moncton, New Brunswick Canada


translation technology, translation memory (TM) software, translator status, translator satisfaction, ethnographic approaches to translation


During the last decade, research has shown that translation memory systems (TMs) have indeed changed the way translators work and interact with their texts. However, very few studies on TMs have been conducted in the workplace itself. This article presents an overview of an ethnographic study conducted in three different translation firms and services in Canada. Comprised mostly of interviews with translators and shadowing sessions of translators at work, at their workstations, the study focuses on the perceptions of the translator in an increasingly technologized working environment. The analysis pays particular attention to the advantages and disadvantages of TMs, from a translator’s perspective, and to the changes in corporate and administrative practices that have followed TM implantation, with ensuing consequences on the translator’s professional satisfaction and status.