TargetOnline

Tailoring Translation Programs to Social NeedsA Survey of Professional Translators

Defeng Li
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract

To ensure that translation programs meet the constantly changing needs of the market, it is of paramount importance to first identify what those needs are. This article reports on a data-based study of professional translators undertaken in Hong Kong. The study reveals that recent social-political changes in the country have brought about changes in the needs of professional translators characterized by demand for better bilingual competence including mastery of Putonghua, better command of selective translation and more collaborative translation. It was also found that training in English and Chinese proved most helpful to professional translators at work, whereas training in interpretation and subject knowledge proved inadequate. The author recommends that training in L1 and L2 be strengthened, and translation teaching be brought closer to the real world through authentic training, thus responding to changing social needs.

Table of contents

Target  12:1 (2000), pp. 127–149. ISSN 0924-1884 | E-ISSN 1569-9986

© John Benjamins B.V., Amsterdam

Not to be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

Studies on translation teaching have been gaining momentum in recent years. While plenty has been written on translator competence and proficiency (e.g. Campbell 1991 Campbell, S.J. 1991 “Towards a Model of Translation Competence”. Meta 36:2–3329–343.   https://doi.org/10.7202/002190ar; Cao 1996 Cao, Deborah 1996 “Towards a Model of Translation Proficiency”. Target 8:2. 325–340.   https://doi.org/10.1075/target.8.2.07cao; Shreve 1997 Shreve, Gregory M. 1997 “Cognition and the Evolution of Translation Competence”. Joseph H. Danks, Gregory M. Shreve, Stephen B. Fountain and Michael K. McBeath, eds. Cognitive Processes in Translation and Interpreting. London: Sage Publications 1997 00–00.), approaches to teaching translation (e.g. Gile 1995; Wilss 1996 Wilss, Wolfram 1996Knowledge and Skills in Translator Behavior. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.15), the role of theory in translation teaching (e.g. Delisle 1981 Delisle, Jean 1981L’enseignement de l’interprétation et de la traduction. Ottawa: Éditions de l’luniversité d’Ottawa.; Gentile 1991 Gentile, Adolfo 1991 “The Application of Theoretical Constructs from a Number of Disciplines for the Development of a Methodology of Teaching in Interpreting and Translating”. Meta 36:2–3. 344–351.   https://doi.org/10.7202/002877ar; Viaggio 1994 Viaggio, Sergio 1994 “Theory and Professional Development: Or Admonishing Translators to be Good”. Dollerup and Lindegaard 1994: 97–105.   https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.5.16via; Gile 1995a Gile, Daniel 1995aBasic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.8(1st)) and empirical study of the translation process and its pedagogical implications (e.g. Lörscher 1991 Lörscher, Wolfgang 1991Translation Performance, Translation Process, and Translation Strategies: Psycholinguistic Investigation. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.; Tirkkonen-Condit 1992 Tirkkonen-Condit, Sonja 1992 “The Interaction of World Knowledge and Linguistic Knowledge in the Processes of Translation: A Think-aloud Protocol Study”. Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Marcel Thelen, eds. Translation and Meaning, Part 2. Rijkshogeshool Maastricht, Faculty of Translation and Interpreting 1992 433–440.), several other important aspects of translation teaching have been un- or under-explored. For example, there has been little study on design and planning of translation curriculums, yet curriculum design and planning is one of the aspects that most directly affect the quality of translators turned out by translation programs. Therefore, the subject of curriculum design and innovation in translation programs merits serious study.

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