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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.







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  1. Thank you for your articles that you have shared with us. Hopefully you can give the article a good benefit to us. Arabic translator

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