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.

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