Translating the Book App’s icono-letter

By: Sara Amadori


Volume: 06
Issue: 01:2020
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2020.0002
Pages: 15-37
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Book App
digital translation
translation ethics
plurisemiotic text



This research focuses on the heuristic value of new digital products, Book Apps, which are changing contemporary reading habits, especially for the so-called ‘digital natives.’ Their plurisemiotic nature, and the fact that they are available in bilingual/multilingual versions, invite further reflection about their translation. This study proposes a qualitative analysis of two Book Apps, recently published by two French pure players. Book Apps are a new ‘technogenre’ that produces a plurisemiotic environment characterized by a multimodal signifying way. This signifying specificity stimulates a reflection about the nature of the linguistic sign inspired by Benveniste’s definition of ‘icon.’ The translation of what is called in this study the Book App’s ‘icono-letter’ is thus presented as a real challenge: translators do not have to translate only a text, but the complicated synergic relationship between text, images, animations, sounds, and music. Textual examples from the two Book Apps examined offer useful evidence of the difficult task of translating this new genre, which highlights the need to rethink digital translation through the effective dialogue between linguistic and visual semiotics, as well as between Translation Ethics and Semio-translation theories.


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