Antifragile Tactics for Translators: A Primer

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Translation agents, in their professional lives, face a reality characterised by uncertainty. This uncertainty is rooted in the complexity of translation systems. Systems consisting of translators, clients, texts, languages (among other elements) are complex systems, as they are composed of several interacting elements, in which what happens to one element influences the reactions of other elements, which in turn influence the original element, in a cascade of interactions which can only be analysed as emergent phenomena. For those who work in the field of translation, the behaviour of these emergent phenomena seems to be the result of pure chance. Each agent is in a particular position at the intersection of several of these systems, exposed to complexity and unpredictability in a particular and, in itself, unpredictable (and complex) way. We must find a way to deal with uncertainty and complexity immediately, while researchers in the field of complexity in translation continue to seek a more complete description of emergent phenomena. In this article, I present five tactics which are a foundation of an antifragile strategy to deal with uncertainty: avoiding fragility, optionality and redundancy, trial and error, via negativa, barbell. This five-fold strategy is based on the twin concepts of fragility and antifragility, as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2012).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-47
Number of pages20
JournaltransLogos Translation Studies Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • translation practice
  • uncertainty
  • fragility
  • antifragility
  • translation agents


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