Ethical Issues for Literary Translation in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

Bo LI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Technological advancement has brought changes to many professions across the world. Furthermore, it has triggered a discussion about ethical issues. Machine Translation (MT) or Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) has vastly increased work efficiency and technology-related ethical issues are gaining academic attention these days. However, the discussion of ethical issues for literary translation against the backdrop of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is limited. After a quick review of the stages of MT, this paper will delve into literary translation’s emerging ethical issues, for example, the literary translator’s professional identity and copyright. Copyright ethics is an indispensable part of AI-enabled literary translation since training data and participatory NMT involve copyright issues. This study revealed that technological advancement will facilitate literary translation. However, no direct evidence exists that machine translation will replace human translators. Given the new working mode of “multi-players” or participatory translation, ethical issues arising from the human and machine interaction merit further academic inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-545
Number of pages17
JournalBabel: Revue internationale de la traduction / International Journal of Translation
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This work was fully supported by the Research Seed Fund from Lingnan University of Hong Kong [Project No. 102240].

I would like to thank Prof. Hongtao Wang and Dr. Yuxiang Wei for their careful reading of the manuscript and insightful suggestions for improvement. I am also grateful to my Ph.D. students and my research assistants for their help with manuscript preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT) Revue Babel.


  • artificial intelligence
  • literary translation
  • ethical issues
  • translator’s professional identity
  • ethics of copyright


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