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Translation has been referred to as a “game” by multiple theorists such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jaakko Hintikka, Jiri Levý and Dinda L. Gorlée since early 20th century. However, such references, mostly intended as metaphors and analogies, failed to truthfully represent translation as a complex process involving multiple participants.

On the other hand, though translating not only means working with text, but also means “sheer quantity, executing numerous projects, practicing translation as a steady if meager source of income, gaining an economic advantage over other translators in the competition for foreign texts and the negotiation of fees” (Venuti, 1992), it is the latter that has generally been either purposefully neglected or wilfully avoided as peripheral or condescending topics in translation studies.

The core idea of game theory is its emphasis on the significance of understanding the thinking, position and perception of other participants, which is enlightening upon the nature of translation--it is not an independent decision-making process solely by the translator, but a competitive game with multiple players. The introduction of the game-theory perspective enables us to have both a panorama view of the translator’s undertaking and a close-up shot about how translators interact with other participants.

Topics addressed in the presentation will include: a brief introduction of game theory, “game” metaphors of translation, key elements of the translation game, rationality of the translator, the representation model of the translation game, and a sample study of the translator’s strategy and payoff in the translator-initiator game.

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