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Review of  Beyond the Ivory Tower

Reviewer: Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud
Book Title: Beyond the Ivory Tower
Book Author: Brian James Baer Geoffrey S. Koby
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Translation
Issue Number: 15.496

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Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2004 10:23:56 -0800 (PST)
From: Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud
Subject: Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy

EDITOR: Baer, Brian James; Koby, Geoffrey S.
TITLE: Beyond the Ivory Tower
SUBTITLE: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy
SERIES: American Translators Association Scholarly Monograph Series xii
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2003

Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Faculty of
Arts, Assiut University, Egypt.


This book consists of three sections. The articles in the first section
explore various pedagogical interventions that are focused on translation
as process. The articles in the second section discuss approaches to
translator training that deal with translation as product, raising issues
of assessment and text revision in both professional and academic
settings. The articles in the third section address some of the
pedagogical opportunities and challenges raised by developments in
translation-related technologies.

Section one begins with Donald Kiraly's discussion of process-oriented
pedagogy. In an attempt to displace the traditional objectivist approach
to translator, Kiraly proposes the incorporation of an innovative
social-constructivist approach. He also calls for the redefinition of
translator competence in order to address the disparity between what is
learned in the classroom and what is practiced in the field.

In her article, "Towards an empirically-based translation pedagogy",
Sonia Colina addresses the issue of communicative translational
competence. According to Colina, the aim of communicative translational
competence is to encourage a more sense-oriented approach to translation
by focusing on the textual and pragmatic considerations, which
traditional approaches to translation ignored.

In her article, "Think-alouds as a pedagogical tool", Judy Wakabayashi
explores the effectiveness of using Think-Aloud Protocols in the
classroom in order to highlight the differences between the processing
performed by novices and that of translation professionals. In so doing,
she emphasizes the role of the psycholinguistic research in the
development of translation pedagogy.

Alexander Gross's article, titled "Teaching translation as a form of
writing", aims at improving the student's self-image as a translator.
Gross argues that by drawing attention to the similarities between the
work of journalists and that of translators, translation can be presented
as a form of target language writing.

Section two begins with Julie Johnson's "Learning through portfolios in
the translation classroom". In this article, Johnson explores the ways
in which portfolios can be used as an assessment tool in order to make
the translation classroom more learner-centered. She argues that the
proper use of portfolios can contribute to the preparation of translators
who are skilled, intuitive, and self-reflective.

In their article "Assessing assessment..", Fanny Arango-Keeth and
Geoffrey Koby address the disparity between student evaluation in
translator training and quality assessment as practiced in the
translation industry. They report on a survey of such practices that
they conducted in early 2002, and argue for greater harmonization and
coordination between the two settings.

In his article "Teaching text revision in a multilingual environment",
Jonathan Hine discusses the challenges of teaching the important but
often neglected skill of text revision within a multilingual
environment, offering a case study of one such course.

Maier's article "Gender, pedagogy and literary translation" continues
the discussion of translation as product. In this article, Maier explores
the various ways in which the comparative study of translation can help
literary translators become more sensitive to issues of class, gender,
race, religion and ethnicity in their work.

The main objective of Natalia Olshanskaya's article is how to improve the
student's communicative competence. Olshanskaya argues that linguistic
competence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for translation
adequacy. She also suggests an important role for translation criticism
in the teaching of translation competence. She concludes that
"communicative competence can be achieved only through a well-balanced
combination of linguistic and cultural information."

Section three begins with Lynn Bowker's article, titled "Towards a
collaborative approach to corpus building in the translation classroom".
In this article, article Bowker explores the pedagogical possibilities
opened up by new technology, specifically for the building of the

In their article "Task-based instruction and the new technology",
Geoffrey Koby and Brian James Baer explore some of the challenges posed
to translation pedagogy by the development of new technologies. Koby and
Baer suggest that "task-based Instruction may be an appropriate
methodology for teaching translation-related technologies in that it
increases student motivation, replicates real world situations and
engages higher-level cognitive processing".

In their article "Building a curriculum for Japanese localization
translators..", Takashi Kosaka and Masaki Itagaki address general
pedagogical issues related to the teaching of software localization, as
well as specific problems involved with localization between English and
Japanese. They suggest that the dearth of qualified localization
instructors can be remedied through a social- constructivist approach to


It is true that much of what has been written about translation is
drowned out by endless debates over theory versus practice. As a result,
translation practitioners and teachers of translation see little value in
academic theorizing on translation. What is unique about this book is
that the contributors have combined both theory and practice by offering
discussions of pedagogical models as well as practical techniques and
guidelines. The book also focuses on the pedagogical issues typically
ignored within the theory vs. practice debate. In particular, it calls
for a more process-oriented, learner-centered approach to translation
training. I think that the book is a unique contribution to the area of
translation pedagogy and training.

Especially valuable in this book is the focus on translational
communicative competence and the relevance of pragmatic and
socio-cultural factors to translation as process and product. The
analyses and arguments presented in this book bring new insights to a
very important area within translation studies: translation pedagogy. I
believe that this book is a useful reference and is an asset to any
library. In particular, I would recommend it for teachers of translation,
translation trainers, and graduate students of translation.

However, I have two brief comments. Firstly, I think that the linguistic
component of translation and its impact on translation pedagogy should
have received more emphasis. In particular, in such a valuable volume,
I would expect more elaboration on the role of contrastive
macro-linguistics (text-linguistics) in translation training.
(For details on this issue, see Basil Hatim (1997) and Daniel Gile (1995),
among others). Secondly, I wonder if the pedagogical implications and
techniques explored in these articles should have been related to some of
the linguistic notions relevant to translation (e.g. the notion of
cross-linguistic interference) to see how these notions would be handled
within such pedagogical implications and techniques.


Hatim, Basil. 1997. Communication Across Culture: Translation Theory and
Contrastive Text Linguistics. Exeter: Exeter University Press.

Gile, Daniel. 1995. Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and
Translator Training. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing

Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud has obtained his Ph.D. degree in Linguistics from
the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1989. Currently, he is the
Chairman of the English Department and the Director of the English
Language Center and the Translation Center at the Faculty of Arts, Assiut
University, Egypt. He has worked for ten years as Associate Professor of
Linguistics and Translation at King Saud University. He has published a
number of articles on Arabic and English Linguistics (e.g. The Syntax and
Semantics of Middle and Unaccusative Constructions, Locative
Alternations, Psych-Verbs, Lexical Incorporation and Resultative
Predication and Implicit Objecthood). His current research interest is
the relevance of Lexical Semantics to Arabic/English translation.