Researching the link between translation theory and practice
Thread poster: SarahDevlin

SarahDevlin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
German to English
+ ...
Jul 20

Hello all,

My name is Sarah Devlin. I am a freelance translator who is also in the process of procuring her Masters in translation. For my dissertation, I am looking at the applicability of theory for translators of all areas and origins and as such have designed a short survey. There is a strong sense of community on Proz so I can think of no better place to put it out. The survey has 5 questions and takes on average less than 60 seconds to complete. If you could participate, I would be very grateful.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/W5VW33W

Thank you!
All the best,
Sarah

[Edited at 2017-07-20 13:38 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
FWIW Jul 20

I found the survey very difficult to answer from question 3 onwards...

Did you mean read specifically about translation theory?

And how can I know how difficult a theory would be to apply without knowing what it is?

Anyway, I answered as best I could...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

SarahDevlin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jul 20

Chris S wrote:

I found the survey very difficult to answer from question 3 onwards...

Did you mean read specifically about translation theory?

And how can I know how difficult a theory would be to apply without knowing what it is?

Anyway, I answered as best I could...



Hey Chris,
Thank you for your feedback! I'll need to write that up in my limitations, I appreciate it!

I mean any reading to do with translation at all whether its theory, news, business, anything. As for the theory, I'm trying to gauge people's feelings on their ability to take a theory that they understand in principle, and apply it to a piece of writing.

Does this clarify it all?
Thanks again!

Sarah


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Answered Jul 20

I would just like to comment a little bit about being "capable of applying" a theory to my translation work.

Maybe it is a cultural thing, but to me "capable" can have several meanings: A) having the skills needed; B) being allowed; C) having the chance.

Now, over the last years, in which I have completed a BA in Translation, many theories I have come across had no big application to the type of work I do, so some theories fall in the not-having-the-chance category. Confronted with the prevalent idea that translations have to be acceptable (or idiomatic, if you want to call it that way), some theories (Berman's trials of the foreign, Venuti's push towards foreignising more) that could be applied to some of my work would not be understood by some customers if applied consistently.

Indeed there are some theories that apply to my work in general, as to any translator's work really, but it can be discussed to what extent we keep them in mind on a daily basis as we write our translations. Maybe we make conscious decisions in larger projects encompassing many weeks or have a special nature, but for the daily, short, and urgent tasks the chances of consciously applying this or that theory are lower.

Interesting dissertation topic indeed! I wouldn't have complained if the survey had gone deeper into the main theories of translation over the last decades and to what extent translators are familiar with them and how far we can/are willing/are allowed to apply them to our work.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
All easy except Jul 20

I found all the questions absurdly easy to answer until I got to the last one:

"On a scale of zero to ten, zero being not at all and ten being entirely, were you to encounter a theory of translation, how capable are you of applying it to your practice?"

I have never heard of anyone applying a theory to a practice (in any discipline). Surely it only works the other way round?

Even the great George Steiner, in the best book I've ever found on translation theory ("After Babel") has to work on the basis of practical examples.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Practice makes perfect? Jul 21

I found question 3 quite hard to answer - from my point of view,there should really be an "other" option there too.
I've never actually studied translation per se, although I was always good at languages. Funnily enough, my main working language, Spanish, was not one of my core subjects and I only studied a very basic beginner's course in my final year at university, where my degree was in Russian and French.
I've never been great with theory either - When I signed up for the RSA Dip TEFLA, I'd already been teaching hands-on for three years, but without any previous formal training. I found it very difficult to get my head round the theories they presented us with, and even more so trying to apply them in practice. And I imagine the same would hold if I ever had to study translation.

What's the old adage? Those who can, teach; those who can't, teach teachers... Perhaps it also applies to translation... (No offence intended, folks)



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Joe France
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2016)
French to English
+ ...
Last question a puzzler Jul 21

Hi Sarah,

I completed by Masters in T&I Studies a year ago at Heriot Watt (where I see you did your undergrad), and with only a year of working professionally, full-time as a translator, I can say from my experience that the emphasis on translation theory in academia is misplaced. I think it can be a useful component in order to teach young translators the mental thought processes and aspects to consider, and approaches to take - but would it not be fair to say that many of these theories are based on studies of practical solutions implemented by translators?

I think it's a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario - the study of practical, tangible applications enables a theory to be derived and, in turn, allows practices to be adapted or approaches analysed. In reality, however, I don't often "encounter" or "apply" theory in any explicit form in my day to day work. Different projects and different clients have different requirements, which forms more of a framework from which to approach a translation than any theory I encountered in my studies.

Where's this waffle going? I think the final question is perhaps too vague and simultaneously too limiting - in my opinion, theory is often more useful in analysing a translation and the approach a translator has taken rather than it is useful in a translator's day to day work.

Others may disagree - others with much more experience, perhaps - but I think practical skills and project framework requirements are far more important to my day-to-day work than any theory I encountered during my studies.

Good luck with your Masters and I hope (what I assume is) your dissertation goes well!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Teachers... Jul 21

neilmac wrote:

What's the old adage? Those who can, teach; those who can't, teach teachers... Perhaps it also applies to translation... (No offence intended, folks)



Actually Neilmac it's

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, inspect teachers".

I should know; my father was a teacher and I must have heard that adage repeated about 1000 times.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
No idea about #5 Jul 21

Tom in London wrote:
I found all the questions absurdly easy to answer until I got to the last one:

"On a scale of zero to ten, zero being not at all and ten being entirely, were you to encounter a theory of translation, how capable are you of applying it to your practice?"

The question is far too "fluffy", full of ifs and buts and even some huh?s.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Hazy Jul 21

SarahDevlin wrote:
I mean any reading to do with translation at all whether its theory, news, business, anything.

Doesn't everything we read or hear have some impact on how we translate?

SarahDevlin wrote:
As for the theory, I'm trying to gauge people's feelings on their ability to take a theory that they understand in principle, and apply it to a piece of writing.

Given that translation theory only ever seems to involve putting labels on common sense (today's example, in my case, being how to translate the Norwegian for "Rechtsstaat" - I could be precise, I could be literal, I could be didactic, I could paraphrase, I could just miss it out - yep, as ever, I'll just do what feels best in the specific context), it shouldn't be beyond any translator to apply any such theory.

It's a bit like having a breathing theory. It's always going to involve a bit of in and out, otherwise it just doesn't work.

Says the non-theorist. Or anti-theorist. Yes, I like that. It matches my superpowers well. Coming soon to a cinema near you, The Antitheorist. Run for your lives, eggheads!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Most theories... Jul 21

SarahDevlin wrote:
For my dissertation, I am looking at the applicability of theory for translators...


Most theories about translation describe how translation is, not how translation should be. Therefore, most theories can't be "applied". Very few theories can be implemented in one's translation work as a "method" or a procedure.

I suspect you mean "the ability to apply it" when you use the word "applicability" above and in your survey. Some people might interpret "applicability" to mean "whether the theory is relevant to translation" or "whether the theory accurately describes translation", and not "whether the theory can be used as a method".

SarahDevlin wrote:
I'm trying to gauge people's feelings on their ability to take a theory that they understand in principle, and apply it to a piece of writing.


When you say "apply [the theory] to a piece of writing", do you mean "use the theory as a method to translate a piece of source text" or do you mean "use the theory to evaluate (or: examine) a translation"?


[Edited at 2017-07-21 10:31 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Those who can (off-topic) Jul 21

Tom in London wrote:
neilmac wrote:
Those who can, teach; those who can't, teach teachers...

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, inspect teachers".


I know it as: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, administrate.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Theory Jul 21

An old master and friend of mine (RIP) once put it like this:

"Imagine a theory of eating. One could invite guests, seat them at a table, provide them with a list of possible ingredients for a theoretical meal, and wait for hypotheses to suggest themselves."

[Edited at 2017-07-21 10:31 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Staying off topic Jul 21

Samuel Murray wrote:

I know it as: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, administrate.


At our local schools: Those who can't teach, teach. Those who can teach, leave.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

SarahDevlin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jul 21

Samuel Murray wrote:

["use the theory as a method to translate a piece of source text" or do you mean "use the theory to evaluate (or: examine) a translation"?


[Edited at 2017-07-21 10:31 GMT]


It seems I have really frustrated a few people here, so my apologies!

As for Samuel's question, I'd say that its the former i.e. use a theory as a method to translate a piece of source text.

Thank you so much everyone for your input it has been extremely valuable and will have a huge impact on how I design surveys in the future. I greatly appreciate it! Please do keep them coming if you can.

Best,
Sarah



[Edited at 2017-07-22 10:37 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Researching the link between translation theory and practice

Advanced search







PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search