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Review of  Triangulating Translation

Reviewer: Vittoria Prencipe
Book Title: Triangulating Translation
Book Author: Fabio Alves
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Translation
Book Announcement: 15.1481

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Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 11:27:07 +0200
From: Vittoria Prencipe <>
Subject: Triangulating Translation: Perspectives in process oriented research

Alves, Fabio, ed. (2003) Triangulating Translation: Perspectives in
process oriented research, John Benjamins Publishing Company,
Benjamins Translation Library 45.

Vittoria Prencipe, Università Cattolica "Sacro Cuore" di Milano.


The seven articles presented in the volume are an elaboration of those
presented in a subsection of the II Brazilian International
Translators' Forum about process oriented research in translation. Like
the Congress centred on Translating the Millennium: Corpora, Cognition,
and Culture, the book focuses on the interfaces between cognition and
translation and on the investigation of translation process from
theoretical perspectives, empirical analysis and pedagogical

The book is divided in three parts. The first one is centred on
theoretical perspectives in translation, and pays particular attention
to pragmatic and to the role of translator subjectivity versus an
objectivist approach to process oriented research.

The first article by Fabio Alves and José Luis Gonçalves, A Relevance
Theory approach to the investigation of inferential process in
translation (pp. 3-24), is concentrated on the role played by Relevance
Theory (RT) and proposes a competence-oriented research of translation,
CORT, (cf. Gutt 2000) to investigate "the basic characteristics of
problem solving and decision making processes in translation" (p. 3).
The authors claim translation competence is the "sum of several sub-
competences which are constituents of a complex cognitive network of
knowledge, abilities and strategies", such as communication (p. 4).
From this point of view RT is considered the theoretical framework upon
which, through empirical instruments, like Translog and Tap's
protocols, "it is possible to map the recursive movements of
translators and to identify parameters of relevance in their problem
solving and decision making processes" (p. 21). The authors conclude
their interesting analysis underlining that the ability in manipulating
procedurally and conceptually encoded information leads to the context,
implicatures and explicatures, of source text expressible in different
environments, then, in different target texts.

In the second paper, Controlling the process: Theoretical and
methodological reflections on research into translation process (pp.
25-42), Gyde Hansen focuses her analysis on empirical translation
studies, and particularly on the evaluation phases of translation
process, "the interaction between the translators' skill, knowledge and
competences and their ability to keep processes and products under
control" (p. 26). Her research is part of TRAP (Translation Process)
project, an empirical research program, through which translation
process is defined "everything translator must do to transform the
source text to the target text" (ibid.). The members of TRAP project
combine introspective methods, using phenomenology as epistemological
support, and retrospection with a computer program, Translog, providing
quantitative and objective data about processes. This method allows
them to design new experiment and offers the tools to facilitate the
observation and description of translation process. In fact, thought
description and negotiation of observations did not lead so far to
objective results, they shared replicable experience and results.

The Process in the Acquisition of Translation Competence and Evaluation
(PACTE) group was formed in 1997 by Allison Beeby, Monica Fernández
Rodríguez, Olivia Fox, Amparo Hurtado, Wilhelm Neunzig, Mariana Orozco,
Marisa Presas, Patricia Rodríguez Inés and Lupe Romero. Their aim is
Building a translation competence model and in the third paper of this
book (pp. 43-67), they describe the first model they design (pp. 43-
50), the description of their project (pp. 50-54), and, at last, the
modification introduced to that model. All the group's members are
translators and translation teachers and because of their different
theoretical and methodological background, they proceed on two
different points of view, the translation process and the translation
product. Their first objective is "define the professional translator
and a model of how translation competence is acquired that could be
validated empirically" (p. 44). So they introduce innovative aspects of
analysis, like psychological components and a dynamic model of
translation competence acquisition (p. 49).

The second part, Monitoring the process, centres on empirical
investigations to validate some of the instruments used in
triangulation approach. In his paper, Effect of think aloud on
translation speed, revision, and segmentation (pp. 69-96), Arnt Lykke
Jakobsen, presents data of an experiment finalising to determine what
influence the think-aloud (TA) condition - as described by Ericsson and
Simon (1984) - might have on translation process and target text
revision. Five final year translator students and five professional
translators translated two texts from Danish into English and two from
English into Danish. One of the two texts in both language directions
was performed with TA, the other one without it. All tasks were logged
by Translog. The analysis of results shows TA method slows down target
text production in both language direction and increases the number of
segments per source text unit. This results, however, do not invalidate
TA method, the most obvious method to experimentally answer a lot of
the questions about translation process.

In the next paper, The influence of working memory features on some
formal aspects of translation performance (pp. 97-121), Rui Rothe Neves
deals with the influence of working memory (WM) features on some formal
aspects of translation performance. "WM is the ability to keep some
information cognitively active while processing that same of another
piece of information" (p. 98). The first MW model, proposed by Baddeley
and Hitch, is based exclusively on neuropsychological investigation,
but MW can be considered a process, that allows to interact processing
speed, task coordination, storage capacity and translation performance
(pp. 100-101).

The paper reports the data of an experiment in which six novice
translators and six professionals carry out a Brazilian Portuguese text
in English, without time constraints and using the Translog DOS
version. The analysis of the results shows novices and experts "arrived
at the same results by means of different resources. ... it is
reasonable to suppose that translation experience does not imply
acquiring a completely new ability, but rather organizing a better,
more efficient, and resource-saving way of approaching the translation
task" (p. 117).

Finally, the two articles in the third part promote the use of
triangulation as a pedagogical instrument.

The first article, Patterns of dictionary use in non-domain-specific
translation, by Inge Livbjerg and Inger M. Mees, (pp. 123-136)
discusses the results of three experiments carried out at the
Copenhagen Business School in 1997 "which had the aim of comparing
translation into the foreign language carried out with or without
access to dictionaries" (p. 123). The objectives were "the
investigation of how, and to what extent, students use dictionaries
when translating non-domain-specific texts; to discover whether the use
of dictionaries influenced the quality of the translation product"
(ibid.). The authors used think-aloud method, developed by Ericsson and
Simon (1980-1984).

The analysis of results suggests that post-graduate students "have
insufficient confidence in their linguistic abilities" (p. 131), in
fact they use dictionary by looking up units for which they have found
one or more solutions. So the correlation between time spent on the
translation and quality of the product it not clear. Then, "students
focus too narrowly on lexical units at the expense of other important
factors such as situational and textual context" (ibid.).

In the last paper, Using think-aloud protocols to investigate the
translation process of foreign language learners and experienced
translators (pp. 137-156), Heloisa G. Barbarosa and Aurora M. S. Neiva,
outlining the trajectory of the PRONIT research group, support the use
of think-aloud protocol to analyse translation process. They use TA
protocol in both monologue and dialogue versions, with different
research subjects, with different language skill levels and different
backgrounds in translation practice. So they can obtain much more
results summarized in nine points (cfr p. 152-153) like the
identification of three major categories of problems; the strategies
more spontaneously used to resolve them; the importance of dictionaries
use, etc.

The results of the experiment fulfil the authors, who hope that "it
[will] be possible to acquire information that [will] help in the
training of future translators" (p. 153).


The papers in this volume are a very interesting summa of the new
perspectives in Translation Study and deserve praise for integrating
theoretical, methodological and pedagogical perspectives linked by the
triangulating metaphor. Finally, the book clearly shows that research
is indissolubly lied to the process oriented approach and gives
numerous cues for exploring the importance and the complexity of
cognitive processes in translation.

Vittoria Prencipe, Ph.D. works as a postdoctoral researcher in the
field of Translation Studies at the Università Cattolica "Sacro Cuore",
Milan (Italy). Her current research deals with the application of a
Sense - Text model to the field of linguistic translation.