Sunday, July 8, 2018

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 researcher defines a creative translation as a translation which (a) involves changes when compared with the source text, thereby bringing in something that is novel, and which (b) is also appropriate for the task that was set, i.e. the translation assignment (or purpose) (p. 58). The researcher does not condone the traditional view of creativity and proposes that cognitive linguistics can provide us with a number of models and notions that may serve to analyze and explore the creative process.

The paper presents three cognitive models, mainly, Fillmore's scenes-and-frames semantics (1976 &1977); RonaldLangacker's figure/ground alignment (1987); and Roger Schank's (1982) thematic organization points (TOPs). These models have foundations in cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology (Schank), in other words, from theories of normal language processing. When we attempt to apply these models on translations, we might need to adapt or modify them. They potentially can explain how translation is different from normal language processing,  improve our understanding of the role of comprehension and the creation of sense in the translation process, and also serve to explain what goes on when translating fails.

My interest in this paper came while I was studying for the Ph.D. in Translation Studies candidacy exam (Comps) at the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. This Xmind map (you can view and download by clicking the Xmind icon) provides a summary of the main concepts presented in this paper: 

Kussmaul, P. (2017). A cognitive framework for looking at creative mental processes. Intercultural Faultlines: Research Models in Translation Studies: v. 1: Textual and Cognitive Aspects, 57.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

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 concepts.  Many scholars define competence as a set of different capacities and skills necessary for completing a translation or interpreting task. Expertise, however, is viewed as the mastery of outstanding skills by an expert, and can only be achieved after many years of goal‐focused work and deliberate practice.

After that, the researchers introduce models of researching C&E. They distinguish between inclusive models of competence and exclusive models of competence. Inclusive models of competence aim to examine different sub-skills or concepts of competence (PACTE, 2011; Schäffner & Adab, 2000; Göpferich, 2009; Russo, 2011), while exclusive models of competence aim to isolate the cognitive abilities needed to translate or interpret (Pym, 2003, p. 489, Malmkjaer (2009).

Next, the paper discusses the concept of expert-novice differences and conclude that empirical evidence heavily implies that professionalism and expertise are not 'co‐extensive,' whereas professionalism could be considered a significant requirement for the achievement of expertise.

Further, the paper highlights the importance of 'deliberate practice' and some means of investigating it. Deliberate practice is a focused, profoundly conscious kind of practice that expert performers in any field make to promote their main skill and consequently their performance (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993). Tiselius & Hild (2017) say that despite its importance to expertise, deliberate practice has not been extensively studied in translation or interpreting studies.

Another core issue is the topic of primary research methods used in investigating C&E in TS. The paper lists and discusses the merits and shortcomings of research methods such as think-aloud-protocols (TAPs),  reporting, interviews, eye-tracking, keyboard logging, working memory, EEG, fMRI, and fNRI.

The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for practice and suggestions for future directions.

My interest in this paper came while I was studying for the Ph.D. in Translation Studies candidacy exam (Comps) at the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. This Xmind map (you can view and download by clicking the Xmind icon) provides a summary of the main concepts presented in this paper: 

Tiselius, E., & Hild, A. (2017). Expertise and Competence in Translation and Interpreting. The Handbook of Translation and Cognition, 423-444.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

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. Defining the object of study, theoretical framework, and presuppositions

Translation competence was defined as the underlying system of knowledge and skills needed to be able to translate. The researchers reviewed many models of translation competence and concluded that their model of translation competence includes a strategic component and a psycho-physiological component. They also proposed six sub-competencies: communicative, extra-linguistic, professional-instrumental, transfer, strategic and psycho-physiological as shown below.

3. Relevance and choice of empirical methods 
The researchers opted for an empirical research in order to validate their suppositions about translation competence and isolate the sub-competencies through systematic observation and data collection.

4. Formulation of working hypotheses either open or closed

PACTE decided to follow a deductive approach formulating closed hypotheses ( one on translation competence, and the other on the acquisition of translation competence. These hypotheses can be verified or nullified by the results of empirical-experimental observation.

5. Choosing a research method

PACTE wanted to design an empirical-experimental research model to confirm or adjust their hypotheses and allow them to proceed deductively. The model had to combine quantitative and qualitative data that has a real and practical application for human translators and integrates both theory and practice.

 Experimental Research


The PACTE Group research designed an experiment to measure (1) translation competence, and (2) acquisition of translation competence. For the first group, subjects were divided into groups; experimental group, (professional translators) and control group (bilinguals, non-practicing translators). For the second group, two experimental groups were used; one comprising translation students and the other of professional translators.

A commercial software programme (PROXY) used for remote control of computer users logged onto a server where all the translator's activities - Internet search, CDs encyclopedia or dictionary searches, pauses, corrections, etc. - can be logged in real time and the translator's screen can be observed on another computer in another room.


The design included two questionnaires and one interview: (i) an initial questionnaire to elicit information about professional experience, direct/inverse experience, training, ideas about translation and translation competence. (ii) A final questionnaire to gain more information about the translator, the problems in the text, the strategies used, and their own evaluation of their translation. (iii) Retrospective interview with the translators following the PROXY recording.

Subjects were asked to translate two short texts, one of which is translated directly (i.e. into the Ll and the other inversely (i.e. into L2), and the whole process is recorded on PROXY.

This paper is a required reading for the Ph.D. in Translation Studies candidacy exam (Comps) at the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. This Xmind map (you can view and download by clicking the Xmind icon) provides a summary of the main concepts presented in this paper: 

Beeby, A. (2000). Choosing an empirical-experimental model for investigating translation competence: The PACTE model. Intercultural Faultlines. Research Models in Translation Studies I. Textual and Cognitive Aspects, Manchester: St Jerome, 43-55.

* PACTE is a group of eleven translation teachers and researchers, coordinated by Amparo Hurtado Albir, working with Spanish, Catalan, English, German and French. Its members are Allison Beeby, Laura Berenguer, Doris Ensinger, Olivia Fox, Nicole Martinez M

Sunday, July 1, 2018

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 architecture of mental processing), Campbell discusses his first attempted to model lexical decision-making based on the notion that translation involves sequential steps. Later, he concluded that the process of decision making involves the simultaneous sequencing of information of various types; lexical, semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, etc.

3. In the third section (Principles of choice network analysis), the paper lists five principles for CNA:
  • Target texts can be used as a tangible source of evidence of mental processing in translation, and an alternative to experimental data and think-aloud protocols.
  • The products of a sample of subjects translating the same text into the same language will reveal a range of differences and similarities in the behaviors of the subjects.
  • As the sample becomes larger, the complete range of behaviors of translators of that text between those languages is approached.
  • A model of the mental processing underlying the translation of that text in that language combination can be inferred through a comparison and  classification of the behaviors of the sample of subjects;
  • General principles about mental processing can be extracted from analyses of specific texts and language combinations, and used as hypotheses for examining other texts and language combinations'
4. In the fourth section (Examples of choice network analysis), examples of networks are presented covering translation between Arabic and English and Spanish and English in such areas as lexis, complex noun phrases, ellipsis, and passives. The study attempt intended to identify the mental processing underlying the translation of texts by multiple subjects. The products were compared, and a number of strategies identified; these strategies deal with, among other things, the treatment of metaphors and the extent to which subjects use information beyond the level of the word to inform their choices.

5. The fifth section (Range of applications of choice network analysis) dealt with the range applications of CNA and revealed among other four major areas:
  • CNA can be used to reveal contrasts between the translatability of specific language pairs, making this an empirically based rather than a  theory-driven exercise.
  • CNA is also useful for estimating the relative difficulty of parts of source texts. 
  • CNA can also be used to compare the strategies of novice and expert translators, and those of translators into the first and second language.
  • CNA is a valuable tool for generating hypotheses about translation that can be tested by other research methods.
6. In section six (Choice network analysis and theory), Campbell explains that CNA is a theory-free approach that generates are models, i.e. representations of complex systems. The researcher is free to make these models as simple or as complex as the hypothesis under investigation demands. The power of CNA, according to Campbell, lies precisely in the fact that it provides a test bench for testing a theory. 

7. Section seven tackled Principles for building networks which include:

  • The need for the network to account for every piece of data in the sample that is relevant to the domain of the theoretical framework of the investigator.
  • The network must be linguistically plausible.
  • It must be optimally parsimonious, i.e. it should contain the minimum number of nodes and branches that will account for all the data while remaining plausible
8. Section eight (Linearity) discusses the sequence of processing in a network which is a function of two factors:
  • Text processing is basically linear as we tend to process from the beginning of a string, despite subsequent passes and post-editing.
  • Choices at any point in the string may constrain subsequent choices; these constraints are the unavoidable product of grammar.
9. The paper concludes that:
  •  CNA is an empirical research procedure that takes the approach of comparing multiple subjects' translations of the same text. 
  • It complements and, in some respects, improves on current research paradigms in translation research such as think-aloud protocols and psychological word-based experiments. 
  • The procedure has a range of applications in contrastive translation research, in the study of difficulty, and in the investigation of translation competence.
  • It is a sound procedure for generating research hypotheses, and for testing psycholinguistic theories about translation.
This paper is a required reading for the Ph.D. in Translation Studies candidacy exam (Comps) at the Institute for Applied Linguistics at Kent State University. This Xmind map (you can view and download by clicking the Xmind icon) provides a summary of the main concepts presented in this paper: 

Campbell, S. (2017). Choice network analysis in translation research. Intercultural fault lines: research models in Translation Studies I, 29-42.

Glossary of World Migration Report of the UN IOM -- مسرد مصطلحات تقرير وكالة الأمم المتحدة للهجرة

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