Shorter than a text, longer than a sentence: Source text length for ecologically valid translation experiments
Arndt Heilmann,Tatiana Serbina,Daniel Couto Vale and Stella Neumann
RWTH Aachen University
This paper investigates what effect the length of the source text has both on the translation process and on the translation product. In an eye-tracking and keystroke logging experiment, we compared three conditions, namely full texts, three-sentence sequences and single sentences as source items. The results suggest that translations of single sentences differ significantly from full texts, whereas three-sentence sequences are representative of the full text condition. Therefore, research in process-based translation studies might benefit from using shorter source texts without endangering the ecological validity of experiments.
Process-based translation studies, the branch of empirical translation studies that is concerned with investigating the actual process of translating from language A into language B and specifically with how cognitive factors affect the outcome of this process, is riddled with methodological problems. One of the most important insights into translation is that it operates on text as a unit rather than on individual words or sentences – even if most of the time the actual translation is partitioned into smaller units (see Alves 2003 on the translation unit). This is in line with language-theoretical claims about text as the unit of meaning (Halliday and Hasan 1976). Alves and Couto Vale (2011), for instance, discuss translators’ patterns of modifying parts of an unfolding translation based on their linguistic decisions elsewhere in a text – rather than in a sentence. Such patterns also underline the role cohesion plays for the translator. Dragsted and Hansen (2008) report early identification of translation problems by translators long before they actually translate a challenging source text element. This, in turn, corroborates the holistic character of translating, which consists of an orientation phase, during which possible translation problems are identified, the drafting phase, during which the translation is drafted, and the revision phase, during which the drafted target text is reviewed (e.g., Jakobsen 2002; Carl, Dragsted, and Jakobsen 2011).
2003Triangulating Translation: Perspectives in Process Oriented Research. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
2009 “Probing the Unit of Translation in Time: Aspects of the Design and Development of a Web Application for Storing, Annotating, and Querying Translation Process Data.” Across Languages and Cultures 10 (2): 251–273.
Alves, Fabio, Adriana Pagano, Stella Neumann, Erich Steiner, and Silvia Hansen-Schirra
2010 “Translation Units and Grammatical Shifts: Towards an Integration of Product- and Process-based Translation Research.” In Translation and Cognition, edited by Gregory Shreve and Erik Angelone, 109–142. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Bates, Douglas, Martin Maechler, Ben Bolker, and Steve Walker
2015 “Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4.” Journal of Statistical Software 67 (1): 1–48.
Camblin, C. C., Peter C. Gordon, and Tamara Y. Swaab
2007 “The Interplay of Discourse Congruence and Lexical Association during Sentence Processing: Evidence from ERPs and Eye Tracking.” Journal of Memory and Language 56: 103–128.
2012 “Translog – II: A Program for Recording User Activity Data for Empirical Reading and Writing Research.” In Proceedings of the Eight International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, 4108–4112.
Carl, Michael, Srinivas Bangalore, and Moritz Schaeffer
eds.2016New Directions in Empirical Translation Process Research: Exploring the CRITT TPR-DB. Cham: Springer.
Carl, Michael, Barbara Dragsted, and Arnt L. Jakobsen
2011 “Reflections on the Literal Translation Hypothesis.” In Methods and Strategies of Process Research: Integrative Approaches in Translation Studies, edited by Cecilia Alvstad, Adelina Hild and Elisabet Tiselius, 23–35. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Couto Vale, Daniel
2017 “What Does a Translator Do When Not Writing?” In Empirical Modelling of Translation and Interpreting, edited by Silvia Hansen-Schirra, Oliver Czulo, and Sascha Hoffmann, 177–208. Berlin: Language Science Press.
da Silva, Igor
2012(Des)compactação de significados e esforço cognitivo no processo tradutório: Um estudo da metáfora grammatical na construção do texto traduzido. PhD thesis Federal University of Minas Gerais.
2005 “Segmentation in Translation: Differences across Levels of Expertise and Difficulty.” Target 17 (1): 49–70.
Dragsted, Barbara, and Inge G. Hansen
2008 “Comprehension and Production in Translation: A Pilot Study on Segmentation and the Coordination of Reading and Writing Processes.” In Looking at Eyes: Eye-Tracking Studies of Reading and Translation Processing, edited by Susanne Göpferich, Arnt L. Jakobsen, and Inger M. Mees, 9–29. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur.
2009 “Eye Tracking in Translation Process Research: Methodological Challenges and Solutions.” In Methodology, Technology and Innovation in Translation Process Research: A Tribute to Arnt Lykke Jakobsen, edited by Inger M. Mees, Fabio Alves, and Susanne Göpferich, 251–266. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur.