Volume 17, No. 4 
October 2013

Olena Skibitska


Front Page


Index 1997-2013

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
How I Learned the Alphabet—and a Few Other Things Along the Way
by Kenneth Kronenberg
Jane Maier, Candidate for ATA's Board of Directors
by Marion Rhodes

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant and Worker Bee
Driving the Bus both Ways
by Danilo Nogueira and Kelli Semolini

  From the Editor
Time to Change the Guard
by Gabe Bokor

  Translation Nuts & Bolts
Translation Workflow
by Paula Gordon

Humor in Conferences
by Luis D. González and Glenda M. Mejias

  Advertising Translation
The challenges of translation of tourist e-text
by Vasyl Stefanyk

Translators Around the World
Remembering Sarajevo
by Midhat Ridjanović

Translators and the Computer
Social Investments
by Jost Zetzsche
  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

  Translators' Tools
Translators’ Emporium

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal

The challenges of translation of tourist e-text

by Olena Skibitska,
Vasyl Stefanyk, Prykarpatskyi National University, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine


The article deals with the main features of tourism-related electronic texts and tries to define the criteria for the assessment of their translation. The main focus of the investigation is on the interactive and flexible nature of Web texts and their impact on translation. The pragmatics and communicative intention of the text has been found to be a cornerstone of the process of creating a target text.

Keywords: tourism-related Internet text translation, tourism discourse, stylistic devices, translation quality.


The importance of an interdisciplinary investigation into tourism-related translation cannot be overestimated at a time when the role of international tourism grows rapidly, allowing general market globalization and the development of e-marketing. The latter has greatly influenced the promotion methods and approaches used by the industry as means of reaching the intended recipient of the product. Tourism e-text on the pages of online hotel booking, airline ticketing services, destination promoting sites, and local tourism boards is used as one of the marketing resources in tourism. Hypertext is manageable, editable, updatable, spreadable and accessible all over the world. And the translator’s goal is to make it readable and comprehensible.

Adequate translation prefers full translation with pragmatic adaptation, whereas partial translation or summary lowers the efficiency level of the translation.
If compared to linear text, hypertext is mde more interactive and flexible by links, transfers, and transitions as well as chats, feedbacks, newsletters etc. It adds even more challenges to the process of tourist e-texts translation, since the target text should be compact and informative, short and coherent.

Tourism development has greatly influenced the need to render information given on local tourist sites, regional promotional webpages or international commercial tourist organisations' websites (e.g. airlines, cruise companies, tour operators, etc.) into different languages. Tourist web pages may be informative, promotional, and commercial or the combination of the above, and their main objective is to advertise the destination, site, or product. But this goal is beyond the author’s reach if the message is poorly understood or, worse, not understood at all. Thus, when translating tourism e-texts, different transformation approaches should be used with focus on multimedia translation techniques (Gambier, 2001). International tourism as an economic sector offers great opportunities to translators. And English as a language of international communication has been long used as the official language of tourism. Tourist texts appear on the Internet in different languages simultaneously, theoretically revealing the same information. However, a more careful study shows that translation of tourism texts is not as simple as it seems to be. Statistical data reveal the fact that out of 100 tourism-related web pages only 34% were more or less adequately translated.

Literature Review

Many scientists considered this topic a matter of great importance. Peter Newmark (2001), Mary Snell-Hornby (1999), Gloria Capelli (2008), Maurizio Gotti (2006), Patrizia Pierini (2007) investigated the translation of specialized texts, paying particular attention to tourist texts. Recent research shows that the quality of tourism-related text translation is very poor due to the fact that many translations are done into the translator’s second language. Alan Duff (1981) assumes this to be undesirable but still unavoidable, considering the peculiar features of the international tourism industry. The aggressive growth of Internet-based tourism sales has greatly influenced the appearance of multilingual travel websites, the English pages of which are frequently non-professionally or mechanically translated. Since tourism texts are mainly promotional and commercial, the quality of their translation is the cornerstone of their success with the audience. How can this situation be improved? In the first place, an Internet text or hypertext should be evaluated differently from a usual text. Text coherence plays a crucial role in the process of creating and translating hypertext, since the readers create both the beginning and the end of their own text. Not only verbal content, but verbal together with the non-verbal elements should be considered.

The concept of average influential Internet-user is considered to be vital in the process of translating online tourist texts. Russian scholars consider an educated male of about 35 with higher than average income to be an influential Internet user (Zhuravleva 2005, Arestova 1998). American and Australian researchers (Trusov et al.) call an 18-year-old male youth the average influential user. But recent investigation of the European Travel Commission published in New Media Trend Watch Online Travel Market (2013) shows that when it comes to travel planning, most research (almost 75%) is done by women between 25 and 35, most of whom hold managerial positions, while only 9% of tourist services were booked by men. Thus, for the purpose of this investigation we shall regard a successful female in her 30s as an influential user of tourist Internet sites. Skyscanner and Amadeus call a female traveler one of the four big travel effects that influence the travel industry. At the same time, with the increased trend to self-managed vacations, the necessity of providing adequate and well-targeted tourist e-texts becomes vital. The general trend (Online travel Market, 2013) to researching and booking vacations via mobile devices adds more features to the desired characteristics of a targeted tourist e-text. The technical specifications of the devices (small screen, font size, flexibility) require adequate, clear, and concise verbal and non-verbal content from both lexical and cultural points of view.

Tourism-related web pages as a text.

Tourist product promotion and sales on the Internet can be viewed as a global process, since it can be accessed worldwide. But if a tourist company or authority focuses on a certain country. it must adapt its product to suit the needs and tastes of the target audience. Here we can regard the process of translation as a localization process. It goes beyond the limits of the common notion of translation because the translator of a tourism-related electronic text should carefully consider the region, country and people, together with the language itself. Considering the aforementioned, we can regard the process of online tourist texts translation as conversion from the source language to the target one, where meaning and communicative intentions prevail over form.

Website translation covers the translation of all web pages including linguistic and non-linguistic elements–vocabulary, texts, hyperlinks, and associated documents. Furthermore, it includes the source text adaptation, i.e. conversion of dates, measures, currencies, etc , content modification, removal of non-relevant data, addition of explanatory notes and/or summary, written style adjustment etc.

The existing methods of adapting tourist web sites in translation differ in extent (full translation, partial translation, data removal or addition, etc.) and communication strategies (e.g. local monolingual tourist sites, bilingual sites with English as the basic language, or multilingual sites). As far as Europe is concerned, here mostly multilingual tourist sites are used.

Recent years’ traditional Translation Studies have researched linguistic aspects of traditional texts (Newmark, 2001) concurrently with the multisemiotic aspects of multimedia texts (Kress, 1988). When translating Internet discourse, we must take into consideration the existing notions of electronic text, meaning, and style. Giuliana Garzone (2002) states that a Web page is a multisemiotic entity of various resources: written (sometimes spoken) language, pictorial, graphic, and acoustic elements. Considering the above, we can regard the tourist web text as the combination of verbal and non-verbal signals pursuing the objective of informing, convincing and luring the target recipient i.e. notifying the addressee of the existence of some tourist product in order to persuade them to use it (buy tickets, book a hotel room, visit a country, see a sight etc.). So, the author of the source text should use imperative sentences, direct or hidden orders, leading and prompting questions.

Patrizia Pierini (2007) makes a distinction between the discursive and linguistic features of English tourism discourse, defining discursive features as features of virtual orality, personalization, persuasive force and transactional dimension whereas linguistic features include style, preference for a restricted range of morpho-syntactic forms, use of figures of speech, use of evaluative and superlative adjectives, and restricted technical vocabulary.

Keeping in mind the general characteristics of English tourism discourse and the multisemiotic nature of web pages, we have to identify the general approach to the translation of tourism-related Internet sites. The translation of electronic tourist texts should be evaluated differently from traditional text translation. The translator should keep in mind the pragmatics of the tourism text together with its communicative objective; they must follow the rules of intercultural communication, consider textual characteristics and semiotics without leaving behind the general contextual features of the web texts.

It should be mentioned that the pragmatics and communicative intent of the source web tourist texts prevails over the semantic and cultural requirements. This prevalence should be preserved in the process of transformation into the target text. Still, the target text as an independent tourist text should meet the following criteria: it ought to be adequate, readable, understandable and persuasive. It should follow all the linguistic requirements (style, genre, syntactic, morphological, lexical and usage norms) and be perceived as a native, non-translated text by the target audience. The authors and translators of the tourist text should keep in mind the specific nature of the Internet target readers–they read (or rather scan) the text more superficially than traditional text readers, they easily switch pages, and leave the complex and difficult to read texts behind while surfing the Web.

Considering the above, we can give the suggested characteristics of a target tourist Internet text–it is adequate, readable, written complying with target language and Internet style requirements, with attractive non-verbal content.


The present research of the tourist Internet texts has shown that 34% of investigated pages are not translated, 32% are translated using less emphatic and stylistically colored lexis, 31% have their adequate and faithful target text equivalent and 3% bear signs of excessive emphatization.

We should mention that we researched only sites having both English and Russian/ Ukrainian pages.

Rapid Internet progress poses new challenges, reveals new problems, and creates new obstacles. Web page translation is indeed a complex task that includes different levels of analysis and forces translators to broaden their knowledge and acquire skills beyond the scope of their professional field.

The translation of electronic content is commonly regarded as an independent specialized translation type including the translation of online international tourism pages.

As we can see, adequate translation prefers full translation with pragmatic adaptation whereas partial translation or summary lowers the efficiency level of the translation. The study shows that the general quality of translated tourism-related web-pages is low due to the fact that the translation is often done by non-professional translators or non-specialized professional ones. Therefore, much is left to be done in the field of translation of Internet text in general and of tourist texts in particular.


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