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Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Adrià Martín-Mor

In Fall 2021, Dr. Adrià Martín-Mor joined the faculty of the Translation Studies Program at CSULB. We are so happy to have him with us and look forward to growing the program with his help. Recently, we asked him a few questions about himself and his research interests. You will find our exchange below. Enjoy!

Photo of Adrià Martín-Mor
Adrià Martín-Mor

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m from Barcelona, Catalonia. As is true for many people, languages are an essential part of my life. I actually struggle to grasp what being monolingual would feel like since most of the things I do are somehow related to languages and translation. I arrived at CSULB last summer to teach translation courses for the new Minor in Translation Studies and I am excited about working with my colleagues at the Donato Center to help advance the field of Translation Studies in California. Beyond my academic role at CSULB, I recently worked on Adrià – Beni cun me, a TV program for the Italian public broadcast channel RAI3 about the languages of Sardinia. I also wrote the soundtrack for the program in Catalan and Sardinian, and published it as an album under a free culture license (CC-BY 4.0) at www.adriamusic.cat.

2. What is your area of research and what motivated you to specialize in it?

My area of specialization is translation technologies. I became interested in translation technologies because of their ability to potentially help preserve language diversity. More recently, I realized that the rhetoric surrounding the use of translation technology often divides translators into two camps: those who support the use of technology in translation and those who strongly oppose it. Since I never really felt comfortable with either one of these groups, I became particularly interested in the intersections between languages, technologies, and power, and I now try to highlight the importance of taking a critical standpoint when approaching technology.

3. Why do you think the field of translation studies is so important at the present moment?

In recent years, translation studies has begun to establish itself as a discipline. Luckily, today there are undergraduate, graduate, and PhD programs in translation in several universities around the world, and more and more are sure to follow. This elevates a profession that has been long disregarded and allows new generations to be trained in a more structured manner.

4. What is one piece of advice you would give to those pursuing a degree in translation studies?

This may not be advice, but I like to think that through their work, translators can contribute to the common good and build better societies. Be it by collaborating with under-represented communities, translating for human rights associations, or contributing to the dissemination of free knowledge, among other paths, translation and interpretation can be used for the purpose of doing good and reducing inequalities.

5. What is the role of machine translation and open-source software in the world of translation?

Machine translation is one of the most powerful tools we have at our fingertips. It can help ease communication, and it actually does, every single day, for millions of people. However, some of the most powerful companies in the world—which are often also the least ethically driven—are making huge profits from machine translation and other technologies, while many translators are having to endure harsh working conditions. Free software (also called FOSS, Free and Open-Source Software) focuses on respecting users. The translation community is extremely fortunate to count among its members people who have always advocated for a more just world and who see in translation technology a way to achieve that end.

6. What fueled your interest in working with minoritized languages, in particular Catalan and Sardinian?

It might be because in these contexts there is an underlying conflict between hegemonic and subordinate languages. Speaking minoritized languages is a way of actively contributing to the preservation of our linguistic ecosystem, and therefore of a more diverse world. Humankind is experiencing multiple crises leading to points of no return: as with climate change, language desertification has been occurring under our eyes for decades. We are fortunate to be able to still access these languages, so contributing to their preservation for future generations is both a beautiful and vital act.

7. How do you think translation affects people’s understanding of the world?

Translation plays a crucial role in the development of Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC), that is, the ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes. It is true that every language represents a unique vision of the world and by inhabiting this space between languages, translators are constantly moving back and forth between worlds. It is by comparing different worlds that we can learn about ourselves.