Segmentation in translation: Differences across levels of expertise and difficulty

Barbara Dragsted

The subject of this article is cognitive segmentation in translation. Based on experiments carried out in Translog, a keyboard logging program, significant differences, and also certain similarities, were observed of cognitive segmentation when data from two different subject groups and text types were compared. In the translation of a relatively easy text, novice and professional translators were found to behave fundamentally differently with respect to the size and nature of cognitive units and the speed with which they were produced. When faced with a difficult text, the behaviour in both groups was clearly affected, but some of the differences observed between novice and professional translators in the translation of the easy text were neutralized in that the professionals took over many of the features characteristic of the novices.

Table of contents

The focus of the present article will be on the extent to which segmentation differences observed between novices and professionals in the translation of a relatively easy text were neutralised when the same subjects were faced with a more difficult text.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.


Baddeley, Alan
1986Working memory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Broadbent, Donald E.
1975 “The magic number seven after fifteen years”. Alan, Kennedy eds. Studies in long term memory. London: John Wiley & Sons, 1975 3–18. Google Scholar
Butterworth, Brian
1980 “Evidence from pauses in speech”. Brian, Butterworth ed. Language production 1: Speech and talk. London: Academic Press 1980 155–156.Google Scholar
Campbell, Stuart
1999 “A cognitive approach to source text difficulty in translation”. Target 11: . 33–63. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Crowder, Robert G.
1976Principles of learning and memory. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
Dragsted, Barbara
2004Segmentation in translation and translation memory systems. An empirical investigation of cognitive segmentation and effects of integrating a TM system into the translation process. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur. [PhD thesis.]Google Scholar
Ericsson, K. Anders and Walter Kintsch
1995 “Long-term working memory”. Psychological review. 102: 2. 211–245. Also retrievable (16 May 2001) from http://​cogsci​.soton​.ac​.uk​/~harnad​/Papers​/Py104​/ericsson​.long​.html doi:  DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Gerloff, Pamela
1986 “Second language learners’ reports on the interpretive process: Talkaloud protocols of translation.” House and Blum-Kulka 1986 243–262.Google Scholar
Gile, Daniel
1995Basic concepts and models for interpreter and translator training. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Harris, Brian
1988 “Bi-text, a new concept in translation theory”. Language monthly 54.Google Scholar
House, Juliane Shoshana Blum-Kulka
eds. 1986Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse and cognition in translation and second language acquisition studies. Tübingen: Gunter Narr 1986Google Scholar
Jääskeläinen, Riitta Sonja Tirkkonen-Condit
1991 “Automated processes in professional vs non-professional translation: A Think-aloud protocol studySonja Tirkkonen-Condit, ed. Empirical research in translation and intercultural studies. Tübingen: Gunter Narr 1991 89–109.Google Scholar
Jakobsen, Arnt Lykke and Lasse Schou
1999 “Translog documentation”. Probing the process in translation Methods and results. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur. [Copenhagen Studies in Language 24.]Google Scholar
Kiraly, Donald C.
1995Pathways to translation: Pedagogy and process. Kent: Kent State University Press.Google Scholar
Königs, Frank G.
1987 “Was beim Übersetzen passiert”. Die Neueren Sprachen. 86: 2. 162–185.Google Scholar
Krings, Hans P.
1986aWas in den Köpfen von Übersetzern vorgeht. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.Google Scholar
1986b “Translation problems and translation strategies of advanced German learners of French (L2)”. House and Blum-Kulka 1986 . 263–276.Google Scholar
Lörscher, Wolfgang
1986 “Linguistic aspects of translation processes: Towards an analysis of translation performance”. House and Blum-Kulka 1986 277–292.Google Scholar
1991Translation performance, translation process and translation strategies: A psycholinguistic investigation. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.Google Scholar
[ p. 69 ]
1996 “A psycholinguistic analysis of translation processes”. Meta 41: 1. 26–32. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Miller, G.A.
1967The psychology of communication: Seven essays. New York and London: Basic Books Inc.Google Scholar
Newell, Allen and Herbert A. Simon
1972Human problem solving. New Jersey: Englewood Cliffs.Google Scholar
Schilperoord, J
1996It’s about time: Temporal aspects of cognitive processes in text production. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar