Article published in:The Development of Professional Competence
Edited by Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow, Birgitta Englund Dimitrova and Séverine Hubscher-Davidson
[Translation and Interpreting Studies 9:1] 2014
► pp. 5–24
The impact of cultural background knowledge in the processing of metaphorical expressions
An empirical study of English-Chinese sight translation
This study aims to explore the role and possible impact of cultural background knowledge (CBK) on performance in sight translation, specifically the translation of metaphorical expressions (MEs). A between-subjects experiment was designed for 68 interpreting students who were assigned to a control group (CG) and an experimental group (EG). They were asked to sight translate a speech containing ten MEs, with only the EG members given relevant CBK beforehand. The study triangulates data from the recordings of sight translation outputs, the transcriptions of the recordings, and the subjects’ guided interviews. The paper concludes with two main findings: (1) CBK markedly alleviates the cognitive load imposed by MEs and thus facilitates the process of translation by shortening the processing time and improving the translation quality; (2) although CBK does not exert a significant influence on the choice of translation strategies as a whole, it discernibly reduces the use of omission as a coping strategy to deal with inadequacies in the understanding of metaphorical meanings.
Keywords: metaphorical expressions, processing time, sight translation, cultural background knowledge, translation strategies, translation quality
Published online: 07 July 2014
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