lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

Directionality research in translation and interpreting studies: A shorter than short history (1/2)

Most generally speaking, directionality research is concerned with the direction from and into which a translation or interpretation is carried out, and related concepts. In a way, the translation or interpreting direction is present in any translation or interpreting research, since a translation or an interpretation can always be construed to have been done from a specific written, spoken or signed language into another. Building on an old debate in the profession and anecdotal comments on the issue, which go back at least as far as Pliny the Younger, who in 85 CE advocated translating from Ancient Greek into Latin and vice versa (Robinson 2002), a specific field of translation and interpreting studies (TIS) has developed to investigate directionality. 

Directionality-related questions that have been or could be addressed by translation and interpreting researchers include: What are the roots of concepts central to directionality and so-called inverse translation such as ‘(non-)native’ speaker or signer, ‘(non-)mother tongue’ or ‘foreign’ language? How similar/dissimilar are attitudes and norms towards translation or interpreting direction in the various ‘translation cultures’ (Prunč 1997, 2012; Schippel 2008, Grbić et al. 2010)? How homogeneous are the groups of ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ speakers or signers? How do ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ speakers or signers feel about being explicitly or implicitly classified as such? With regard to directionality effects, how similar/dissimilar are specific language pairs and genres/text types? What is the performance of a translator or interpreter out of his/her ‘mother tongue’ as opposed to into his/her ‘mother tongue’? What are the effects when multiple collaborators with different ‘mother tongues’ (such as translators, revisors or validators) are involved in the translation process? How does translation or interpreting direction affect reception? How useful is it to use directionality as an organizing principle of translation/interpreting courses or entire study programs? How much is the ‘nativeness’ factor stressed in job advertisements, how relevant is it to actual hiring practices, and what reasons are given for that? 

Now let me give you a brief overview of the research that has been published on translation and interpreting directionality over the years, and provide you with some context. At first, a few scattered, pioneering studies appeared, whose focus was mostly directionality in translation (e.g., McAlester 1992, 2000; Beeby Lonsdale 1996, Marmaridou 1996, Campbell 1998, Stewart 1999, 2000a+b, 2008; Kocijančič Pokorn 2000a+b, Lorenzo 2002, 2003). These studies were followed by a growing number of publications dealing with directionality in interpreting (e.g., Tommola/Helevä 1998, Al-Salman/Al-Khanji 2002, Lim 2005, Monti et al. 2005, Bartłomiejczyk 2006, Chang/Schallert 2007, Bendazzoli 2010, Opdenhoff 2011). In the noughties, when directionality research seems to have enjoyed its heyday in TIS, directionality-dedicated conference proceedings and a thematic special issue were published (Grosman et al. 2000, Kelly et al. 2003, Godijns/Hinderdael 2005). A fair number of works produced during that period approached directionality from an emancipatory perspective, which is attested to by titles such as Challenging the Traditional Axioms: Translation Into a Non-Mother Tongue (Pokorn 2005) or Into Forbidden Territory: The Audacity to Translate into a Second Language (Feltrin-Morris 2008). 

Most recent contributions to directionality research have been made in translation process research (e.g., Hirci 2007, Alves et al. 2009, Pavlović/Jensen 2009, Maier 2011, Chang 2011, Wimmer 2011, Ferreira Alves 2010, 2012; Rodríguez/Schnell 2012, Ferreira 2014, Barbosa de Lima Fonseca 2015, Hunziker Heeb 2016, Ferreira/Schwieter 2017). Because of the nature and research designs of process studies in TIS, this does not come as a surprise. In the often quantitative studies typical of this TIS research tradition, directionality or related concepts may appear as explicitly spelled-out, highly visible dependent, independent or control variables (Krings 2005 mentions translation direction as one of his “task factors”).

Directionality has now been established as an important issue in TIS, and received its own entry in major reference works (Shuttleworth/Cowie 1997, Delisle et al. 1999, Beeby 2009, Palumbo 2009, Pokorn 2011, Bartłomiejczyk 2015).

TIS researchers will keep exploring the topic of directionality, also from new angles; directionality has recently become an issue in (improving) statistical machine translation and sign language interpreting (van Dijk et al. 2011, Wang/Napier 2013, Nicodemus/Emmorey 2013, 2015; Wang/Napier 2015, Wang 2016) and third language interpreting (Crasborn/van Dijken 2009, Topolovec 2012), for example. Recent conference (conference 1, conference 2), meeting (meeting 1, meeting 2) and workshop contributions, including the occasional keynote, a special journal section, a special issue on English as a lingua franca and translator/interpreter education including reflections on directionality, observations on directionality in so-called non-Western 'translation cultures', a survey reporting on the perception and role of translation direction in the Spanish technical translation market, and ongoing (post-)doctoral research projects are signs that the patient is alive and kicking.

In the rest of the post I would like to turn to conceptual and methodological issues. Taking a cue from other disciplines that have language(s) and communication as their object of study (e.g., Paikeday 1985, Piller 2001, 2002; Davies 2003, 2013; Bonfiglio 2013, Hulstijn 2015), we might want to be more careful when defining and operationalizing key concepts in directionality research. For instance, the criteria for assigning study participants to the ‘native’ or ‘non-native’ group are not always transparent. The linguist Tove Skutnabb-Kangas mentions origin, function, competence and/or identification as criteria we could rely on to determine a person’s mother tongue(s). To avoid threats to our studies’ credibility, we should thus perhaps be more cautious about 'I know one when I see one'.

In the second and final part of this two-part blog post, I am going to talk about methodology in directionality research and will suggest methodological improvements (such as blinding) to avoid biased results.

  • Feltrin-Morris, Marella. 2008. Into forbidden territory. The audacity to translate into a second language. PhD thesis, Binghamton University/SUNY.

miércoles, 10 de julio de 2013

TREC: The Next Generation

The international research network “Translation Research Empiricism Cognition” (TREC) convened in Barcelona for a regular meeting on July 4-5 2013. This time we also held a previous seminar on empirical and experimental research in  translation, where PhD students presented their ongoing work. These are, in alphabetical order, some of the stars of TREC’s next generation:
José Jorge Amigo Extremera (PETRA, ULPGC) talked about “Fitting culture into Translation Process Research”, where he summarized his project to develop operationalizations of culture and knowledge for empirical and experimental research, drawing form social and situated cognition approaches.

Mariceli Aquino (LETRA, UFMG) presented “A relevance-theoretic study of processing effort in post-editing tasks: an analysis of German modal particles  “. She will be using Translog and Tobii T60 to study post-editions of the MT output of text excerpts from a corpus of articles from Deutsche Welle.

Claudine Borg (Aston University) is working on an in-depth case study of post-drafting self-revision of the translation a novel from French into Maltese through think-aloud, translator observation, interviews, analysis of drafts and ST-TT comparison drawing on corpus-based techniques.

Luis Miguel Castillo (PACTE, UAB) contributed with “Acceptability and the acquisition of translation competence: preliminary results”, where he described his goal of tracing the evolution of translation quality throughout the process of the acquisition of translation competence.

Norma Fonseca (LETRA, UFMG) draws from Krings (2001) to distinguish temporal, technical and cognitive aspects of effortful processing during task execution and builds on Alves & Gonçalves (2013) to study cognitive effort during monolingual post-editing processes using key logging, screen recordings, and guided written protocols.

Andrea Hunziker Heeb (ZHAW) struck a vital chord by focusing on ethical issues that may arise with professional translators as research participants. She used a general academic self-evaluation checklist and a code of good practice in research to frame her presentation, which fostered a lively discussion.

Hurtado, Amigo, Mellinger & Jakobsen. TREC 2013Andrea Hunziker Heeb and Annina Meyer (ZHAW) presented the design, the methods and the hypotheses of a research project focused on ergonomic issues associated with software settings, equipment, and/or physical conditions that might impede the  efficiency of translation by slowing down decision-making and other cognitive processes during translation.

Arlene Koglin (LETRA, UFMG)  presented her project “Processing effort and cognitive effects trade-off in metaphor post-editing.“ Arlene is using eye tracking, key logging and retrospective protocols to gather data, and Relevance Theory as a referential framework.

Minna Kumpulainen (University of Eastern Finland) presented an overview of the use of pauses as potential cognitive indicators in translation process research, where she centered on pause length and their correlation with process segment boundaries.

Gisela Massana Roselló (PACTE, UAB) presented the design and some methodological issues of her research project on the acquisition of translation competence in trainees who have Portuguese as their second foreign language. Language typological proximity between Portuguese and Spanish is a major concern in this project.

Christopher Mellinger (KETRA, Kent State University) is well advanced in his PhD research  project on how cognitive effort is distributed during the translation task, which he is analyzing through the pause contour of  applied cognitive effort when using a translation memory to translate. He presented some preliminary findings on how the use of TMs and specific fuzzy match features affect the translation process in Spanish-to-English translation professionals with 4–7 years of experience.

Ana Muñoz Miquel (GENTT, UJI) presented her ongoing work on medical translator’s profiles, where she combines the cognitive notion of translators’ competence with a sociological survey of medical translators self-image and a pedagogical perspective on the needs of medical translator trainees.

Christian Olalla Soler (PACTE, UAB)  will be using screen recording, translations and questionanaires to study the acquisition of translators’ cultural  competence by Spanish trainee students with German as their second foregin language, from the perspective of PACTE’s (2003) translation competence model.

Raphael Sannholm (Stockholm University) presented the results of his MA thesis, which checked whether  different text types give rise to different foci in the cognitive processes during translation within a fairly homogenous group of participants, and also outlined his future PhD project on on automaticity in the cognitive processes in translation.

Karina Szpak’s (LETRA, UFMG) research project applies the relevance-theoretical concepts of conceptually and procedurally encoded information to study eye fixations, time spent, and attention units to identify instances of processing effort in translation.

lunes, 27 de mayo de 2013

Comprobación de la coherencia léxica con petraREV

Los archivos bilingües utilizados con tanta frecuencia en localización resultan muy útiles cuando un revisor, ya sea autónomo o asalariado, debe trabajar sobre un texto. Hay muchas maneras eficaces de comprobar que la terminología de una traducción es la correcta. Por ejemplo, podemos realizar un vaciado terminológico de estos archivos, bien manualmente o bien mediante un sistema de extracción automática de términos, y recurrir a una herramienta que garantice que en cada ocasión se ha utilizado el término correcto. Lamentablemente, la mayoría de estas posibilidades queda fuera del alcance de numerosos traductores y revisores, para quienes el tiempo que pueden dedicar a la tarea no permite emplear estos métodos.

Además, aún cuando optaran por extraer la terminología presente en un texto, al no existir un límite perfectamente definido entre qué es un término y qué no lo es, muchas incoherencias terminológicas pueden pasar desapercibidas. Algunas palabras extremadamente sencillas y aparentemente sinónimas, como añadir y agregar, por triviales que parezcan a primera vista, tal vez merezcan tratarlas como términos en contextos donde haya unas reglas estrictas sobre la preferencia por una de ellas.

Por último, estas comprobaciones terminológicas pueden ser precisamente más necesarias cuando no se dispone del tiempo adecuado para someter la traducción a una revisión minuciosa y, por lo tanto, menos aún para confeccionar glosarios.

En estos casos, es mejor contar con que el revisor solo va a poder dedicarle un tiempo cero a estos menesteres y únicamente querrá ver resultados significativos que hagan que el tiempo invertido en examinarlos sea más provechoso que una revisión manual del texto.