Translation of corporate websites and the changing role of the translator.

  • Sissel Marie Rike University of Agder


An increasing number of businesses today see the need to have their company information available on the World Wide Web, accessible to a global audience. Consequently, more and more websites are translated. In Norway, English is the preferred language for communication worldwide on the web, and the translator is instrumental in the communication process. Traditionally, the translator has been seen as a mediator between two languages, for instance Norwegian and British English, and the two corresponding cultures, as language is closely linked to culture. However, when working on texts for the web, the translator’s role may be seen as changed into the transfer through an electronic medium of texts between two languages and multiple cultures in a global environment. The question is whether, and if so in what ways, this new situation calls for a redefinition of our conceptions of the process and nature of translation. This issue is discussed with reference to certain features of the new environment in which translators work, such as multiple cultures, disconnection of language and culture, the medium of the World Wide Web and convergence between writing and translation. Moreover, the issue is linked to aspects of the theory of science. Examples are drawn from the websites of two Norwegian companies, chosen from the yellow pages, one for a law firm and another for a pharmaceutical company.