An encounter with a Translator Poet - Khaled Mattawa

On Thursday the 4th of October 2018, I had the pleasure of being invited to meet with Khaled Mattawa, a Libyan poet, a renowned Arab-American writer, and a leading literary translator, focusing on translating Arabic poetry into English.

Mattawa is the 2010 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the PEN American Center Poetry Translation Prize, three Pushcart Prizes, and a MacArthur Fellowship (Source).

The meeting was facilitated by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. Khaled Mattawa was also invited to introduce the winner of THE STAN AND TOM WICK POETRY PRIZE, Michael McKee Green for his book 'Fugue Figure'

To celebrate the meeting with Khaled Mattawa, I have written two poems, in English and Arabic. These poems highlight the main ideas Mattawa shared with us. Please note that those two poem…

Kussmaul, P. (2017). A cognitive framework for looking at creative mental processes.

This is the first paper I read on the concept of creativity research in translation studies. I have always had the 'traditional' notion which views creativity as a mysterious thing. Kussmaul's (2000) chapter A cognitive framework for looking at creative mental processes changed the way I used to think about creativity.

The researcher starts by describing the central hallmarks of a translation as a creative product, then he introduces some traditional notions of the creative process, furthermore, the paper discusses a number of cognitive models and how they could be applied to the explanation of creative translation processes. It ends with recommendations for future research.

Kussmaul (2000) argues if we can show that translating, in general, involves a degree of creativity, somehow similar to that involved in the creation of source text, we may help promote the status of the profession. But what is creativity research and how can we apply it to translation studies? The re…

Tiselius & Hild (2017). Expertise and Competence in Translation and Interpreting

This paper discussed the core issues and topics of Competence and Expertise (C&E) in Translation and Interpreting Studies (TS). It begins with a discussion of C&E as concepts and explains that although the two concepts are viewed as synonymous by many TS scholars (PACTE, 2003, Hurtado Albir, 2010; Martín, 2014; Dimitrova, 2005), others distinguish between the two (Alves & Gonçalves, 2007; Englund Dimitrova, 2005; Tiselius & Hild, 2017). The researchers are in favor of viewing and studying C&E as separate concepts, though they consider expertise as a natural development of competence. The paper states that research has not yet shown if expertise is a higher level of competence, or whether further skills are needed to develop a competent performer to an expert performer in a specific field.

Next, the researchers move on to discuss the definitions of C&E. Tiselius & Hild (2017) claim that there is no consensus among TS researchers on the definitions of these …

Beeby, A. (2000). Choosing an empirical-experimental model for investigating translation competence: The PACTE model.


There are many variables involved when selecting a research model in translation studies. These variables include the kind of problem observed and its relevance to the discipline as a whole. The PACTE* Group adopted Neunzig's (1999) approach to design an empirical-experimental model for investigating translation competence:

First stages in this process lead to the decision to conduct an empirical study or not, while
subsequent steps determine whether or not experimental research should be carried out. Later steps enable decisions relating to research design and data collection.

The chapter discusses 5 stages for developing a research model:

1. Identifying the object of investigation

The PACTE group decided that the object of investigation was to be translation competence. This should, in turn, enable them to examine the acquisition of translation competence for the purpose of designing teaching methods and materials to develop and evaluate translation competence.
2. Def…

Campbell, S. (2017). Choice network analysis in translation research

This is one of the most interesting papers I have read so far. Campbell (2017) introduces a new method of using translations to examine translators behavior. This new approach is called Choice Network Analysis (CNA). Such an approach is rooted in the competition model in interpreting research which was initially developed to study language acquisition. This model is part of the connectionist model which assumes "the brain relies on a type of computation that emphasizes patterns of connectivity and activation" (Mcwhinney 1997:222), rather than on serial processing.  The paper is comprised of nine sections.

1.  In the introduction, Campbell summarizes research methods of mental processes in translation, namely; Think-aloud protocols, word-based experimental techniques (rooted in cognitive psychology), and neuroimaging. He refers to an 'overlooked' process which can shed light on the translator behavior; the target text itself.

2. The second part discusses (The basic a…

Chesterman, A. (2000). A causal model for translation studies.

In this paperAndrew Chesterman(2000) discusses models for translation research. He starts by explaining the differences between a theory, hypothesis, and a model. According to Chesterman, a theory is a set of concepts and statements (claims, hypotheses) that provides a systematic perspective that allows us to understand something in any way, and consequently attempt to explain it. A model, he elaborates, is less abstract, and oftentimes viewed in an intermediate position between theory and data. A model is typically used to illustrate a theory or a part of a theory. When it comes to 'Models of translation' Chesterman defines them as 'preliminary, pre-theoretical setting the object of research that has specific methodological...they constrain research models, and hence the construction of translation theories' (p. 16). 

The paper introduces four types of models of translation: 
1. Comparative model, commonly used in contrastive research, and it aligns translations with …

Consciousness and the strategic use of aids in translation.

In this paper, Juliane House (2000) discusses the role of consciousness in translation process research and provides the background for a small empirical study using thinking-aloud techniques to investigate language learners' use of translational aids.

The study analyzed and compared the thinking-aloud protocols, the retrospective interviews, and the translations produced under the two treatments with the availability versus non-availability of translational aids.

The paper concluded that TAPs might contribute to improving our understanding of translation process. However, House (2000) favors the use of dialogic against monologic TAPs and retrospective immediate interviews as the data produced by pairs of subjects were generally less artificial, richer in translational strategies and often much more interesting.

On the translation teaching side, House (2000) proposes teaching translation in and as interaction (House 1986 and forthcoming) giving preference to collaborative translation…