Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mixed Sources

Danchev (1983) pointed out that if students are going to use translation anyway, it would be best to acknowledge the fact and bring it out in the open where it can be observed, channelled and controlled.

In ideal world, translation should be done by properly qualified translators who could produce high quality translations (Holz-Mänttäri, 1986). However, such is not the case in real life, as translation is often done by those without formal training (Stibbard, 1998).

Baker (1993) enumerates the five types of equivalence necessary in translation, namely: word-level equivalence, equivalence above word level, grammatical equivalence, textual equivalence, and pragmatic equivalence. Each needs to be carefully considered to avoid the danger of having students think that "structurally and lexically similar sentences in two languages mean the same" (Allen and Widdowson, 1975, p. 91).

Stibbard (1998) added that cultural connotations are often lost in translation. However, he encourages the inclusion of translation practice in the language classroom because "there is no better way of coming to understand a text than to try to translate it" (p. 74).

Duff (1989) and Lefevere (1992) states the need to translate for a clearly envisaged audience.

Allen, J. P. B., & Widdowson, H. G. (1975). Grammar and language teaching. in J. P. B. Allen and S. P. Corder (eds.). Papers in applied linguistics: The Edinburgh course in applied linguistics vol. 2. London: Oxford University Press.

Baker, C. (1993). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. Clevedon and Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters.

Danchev, A. (1983). The controversy over translation in foreign language teaching. In Translation in foreign language teaching round table. Paris: FIT-UNESCO.

Duff, A. (1989). Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lefevere, A. (ed) (1992). Translation/History/Culture: A sourcebook. London and New York: Routledge.

Stibbard, R. (1998). The principled use of oral translation in foreign language teaching. In K.Malmkjær (Ed.). Translation and language teaching: Language teaching and translation (pp. 70-76). Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Newson, D. (1998). Translation and foreign language learning. In K.Malmkjær (Ed.). Translation and language teaching: Language teaching and translatio

Newson, D. (1998). Translation and foreign language learning. In K.Malmkjær (Ed.). Translation and language teaching: Language teaching and translation (pp. 63-68). Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Newson (1998) proposes a simple model in teaching translation, especially from the mother tongue, in an EFL context. The study involved German learners of English. Translation is used as a test of proficiency in Germany.

The author argues that there are alternatives to sentence level translation, and that it is possible to include true translation in the language classroom. True translation refers to translation that is done for a specific purpose and audience in mind.

Teaching translation in the classroom is beneficial on two levels. As a short-term benefit, doing so could prepare students for the mandatory translation exam during their finals; and as a long-term benefit, students could gain insights into the workings of a language.

Newson (1998) claim that translation should not be used as a teaching and testing tool because:
1. It encourages thinking in one language and transferrence into another, with accompanying interference.
2. It deprives teacher and learner of the opportunity to benefit from the accruing advantages of working within one language.
3. It gives false credence to the naive view that there is such a thing as simple word-to-word equivalence between languages.
4. It does not allow or make easy the achievement of such generally accepted foreign language teaching aims as:
a) Emphasis on initial fluency in spoken language
b) Attention to the controlled introduction of selected and graded structures (60s style) or communicative competence strategies (90s style)
c) Attention to controlled introduction of and mastery of selected and graded lexical items
d) The use of situationalized, contextualized language
e) communicative language use
f) Learner-centered language learning
g) There is no observable learning effect, either of new vocabulary or structural items. This is not surprising since each translation task provides normal(l)y only one (random) example of new language items; there is no repetition and practice as in classic forms of language learning and teaching, no grading and no stru(c)turing (pp. 63-64).

Here, Newson (1998) presents several ungrounded claims that could easily be refuted.

Newson (1998) criticized the use of translation as a text of language competence because it is not a measure of the target language since they only present random translation problems and the chosen text presents an unpredictable sample of the target language, making it impossible for the diligent learner to prepare for systematically and reliably and for the teacher to supply planned and graded practice.

A possible solution to this dilemma is to retrieve authentic representative language from a representative text data bank. To do this, the instructors needs to compile translation texts that adhere to linguistic criteria. Specifically, these should be non-literary, originall written in the source language, about English-speaking countries, and of a specific length. This would make the translation task more practical and more predictable.

The second step is to sort for word frequency. That way students will only need to translate and become more familiar with the most frequent meaning of words. The readability measure of a text should also be probed to determine its difficulty. This is done by counting the number of passive constructions in the text and measuring sentence length. Both frequency count and readability measurement allows for the grading of the texts according to their difficulty.

From here on, the instructor could create a data bank that includes representative examples and not just isolated and chance occurrence of target constructions and items.

Finally, systactical contrastive studies can also be conducted to predict likely translation or interference problems. These steps are more systematic and generalizing than 'false friends.'

Building such a model would help make translation practice more contextualized and not just inauthentic translationspeak generated for the sole purpose of illustrating a point.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Klein-Braley, C., & Franklin, P. (1998). The foreigner in the refrigerator: Remarks about teaching translation to university students of foreign langu

(not complete)

When translating in the language classroom, students are often given a model version to check their own translation against.

Translation tests are often used as proficiency tests in Germany.

There are two ways to teach translation: learning-by-doing or providing an introduction to translation skills

Students can be introduced to lexical items, dictionary use and other aids; contrastic phenomena and false friends; textual and register analysis; cultural concepts and reader-oriented text adjustment; the process of translation, revision and correction techniques; concept of the perfect translation

*The sequence of words in one language is not the same to the sequence of words in another. Thus, content is not directly transferrable, because it is impossible to transpose one culture into another.

Translation is complicated in that it could be completely delexicalized (disassembled and regrouped) in one extreme and should use an absolutely correct equivalent term (terminology) in another.

The use of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries should also be encouraged in translation.

Translations should be corrected for colloquial and contextual correctness. Formulaics, idioms, metaphors, proverbs, and quotations should also be dealt with, as should neutralization and omission.

Sometimes, the translated text should depart the source text sufficiently to be linguistically and textually appropriate.

Translation texts should have linguistic (lexical, syntactical, register, linguistic conventions), textual (text type different between languages) and user (tailored according to different target users, deletion, addition, and changing to fit new circumstances) appropriateness.

For a translation class, instructors could present defective translation in the learners' mother tongue to raise their awareness towards defective translation. Another possible activity would be to replicate an authentic translation context with real translation aims and allowing the use of translation aids such as dictionaries, grammar references, other reference materials, consulation with the original author, other experts, native speakers or model texts in the target language. The model texts should be similar in subject matter, text type, text purpose, lexical elements, textual conventions, and/or a feel for register. Learners should be aware of the necessity of using models when translation from their mother tongue into a foreign language.
The author stated one final word of caution, emphasizing that no translation should be released into the world without having been checked by a linguistically sensitive native speaker. He also reiterated that a one-to-one relationship between words in two languages does not exist.
Sewell, P. (1996). Translation in the curriculum. In P. Sewell and I. Higgins (eds). Teaching translation in universities. Present and future perspectives. London: Association for French Language Studies & Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Malmkjær, K. (1998). Introduction: Translation and Language Teaching: Language Teaching and Translation. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Translation is generally viewed unfavorably among teachers, especially in the EFL community. In many places around the world, it is only taught because it is tested in examinations. However, it still remains significant in language teaching around the world; and this reason is enough for us to make the best out of it. Regardless, it is slowly regaining respectability, even in the EFL community where it had once so strongly villified. Ulrych (1996) previously claimed optimistically, "The role of translation in language teaching has undergone a considerable transformation in recent years" (p.2).

Translation is also seeing a revival in language teaching. In John William's introduction to Cook (1996) and Schachter (1996), he states that "tasks that promote 'multi-lingual' competence (for example translation and interpreting)" are valuable for language teachers. Selinker (1992; 1996, p. 103) further added that translation equivalents aid in the formation of interlanguage competence "as they are an important strategy for learners as they 'look across' linguistic systems." According to Selinker, variation in translation ability is related to variationin language proficiency. Thus, an advanced learner will will have a better translation ability. However, Toury (1986) counters this view. It remains unsure whether training in translation will help improve procficiency.

Objections toward the use of translation started in the 1900s with the members of the early reform movement. According to Lado (1964), one of the most outspoken anti-translationalists:
Translation is not a substitute for language practice. Arguments supporting this principle are (1) that few words if any are fully equivalent in any two languages, (2) that the student, thinking that the words are equivalent, erroneously assumes that his translation can be extended to the same situations as the original and as a result makes mistakes, and (3) that word-for-word translations produce incorrect constructions.
Psychologically, the process of translation is more complex than, different from, and unnecessary for speaking, listening, reading, or writing. Furthermore, good translation cannot be achieved without master of the second language. We, therefore, teach the language first, and then we may teach translation as a separate skill, if that is considered desirable. (p. 53-4)

Malmkjær (1998) sums up the arguments against the use of translation in language teaching:
- is independent of the four skills which define language competence: reading, writing, speaking and listening
- is radically different from the four skills
- takes up valuable time which could be used to teach these four skills
- is unnatural
- misleads students into thinking that expressions in two languages correspond one-to-one
- prevents students from thinking int he foreign language
- produces interference
- is a bad test of language skills
- is only appropriate for training translators (p. 6)

Malmkjær (1998) names the five activities in translation: (i) Anticipation; (ii) Resource Exploitation; (iii) Co-operation; (iv) Revision; (v) Translating. There is no fixed order and boundaries in the occurence of these activities.

In the Anticipation stage, the source text context is established (by whom, why, when, for whom) as is the target text (who wants it, for whom, why, when, who wants). Additionally, references, such as dictionaries, original and/or similar target language texts, are consulted for terminology, phrasing, structure, and layout; cooperation with other translators and experts is also anticipated.

In the Resource Exploitation stage, the materials gathered in the previous stage is studied.

The Translation and Cooperation stage occurs almost concurrently. In this stage, problems are pooled together for later solved through consulting fellow translators, native speakers or experts.

Finally, in the Revision stage, the final version is produced.

Contrary to popular belief, translation lends itself to much practice with reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It is not independent from the four skills, but is instead dependent and inclusive in them. Another fallacy is that translation is a time-waster in language education. Also it is time-consuming, it would so off base to say that it is a complete waste of time.

Appropriate translation requires that the person translating the text be competent in both the source language and the target language; the person should also be able to relate the two systems appropriately; in addition, they should also minimize negative interference and maximize positive interference.

Finally, Malmkjær (1998) reiterates that if real-life translation is transposed into the language classroom, students will learn that words in different languages do not have a one-to-one relationship. In addition, doing translation activities will lead to forming an interference, and having ample practice will lead to a better awareness and control of the skill. Finally, the activity can also be applied to all four skills. And, if resources are allowed to be used in translation test situations, it will greatly lower the anxiety of students.

Cook, V. J. (1996). Competence and multi-competence. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lado, R. (1964). Language teaching: A scientific approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Schachter, J. (1996). Learning and triggering in adult L2 acquisition. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Selinker, L. (1996). On the notion of 'IL competence' in early SLA research: An aid to understanding some baffling current issues. In G. Brown, K. Malmkjær, & J. N. Williams (eds.). Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Toury, G. (1986). Monitoring discourse transfer: A test-case for a developmental model of translation. In J. House and S. Blum-Kulka (eds.). Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse and cognition in translation and second language acquisition studies. Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Ulrych, M. (1996). Communication through translation. Cambridge Language Reference news 2, p. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ELT Division.