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Translation as a means and as an end

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Angeles Carreres

on 5 May 2017

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Transcript of Translation as a means and as an end

Translation as a means and as an end:
reassessing the divide


"Translation applied to language learning
is precisely what we are NOT interested in"
But... why?

"Using the first language...? Maybe.
Some conclusions
The competent L2 speaker and the competent translator both...
can understand and produce accurate L2 utterances
are sensitive to pragmatic constraints
have good cultural and intercultural knowledge
1. Far from being unrelated activities, translation as a means and translation as an end are linked by a common purpose: communication
Angeles Carreres
University of Cambridge

So, what about pedagogy?
The L2 learner and the trainee translator share many key learning objectives
Should this not be reflected in the way we teach both language and translation?
Underlying premise:
Teaching translation and teaching language are wholly separate, unrelated undertakings
Translation as a means and as an end: estranged partners?
"For the successful language learner, bilingual knowledge is always implicated in monolingual use, and it makes little sense to think that one can exist without the other. For these reasons
I do not accept a neat division between translation as a means and an end
." (Cook 2010:xx)
Is the breakup irreversible?
Questioning the assumption: rethinking the divide
Translation as a means: a very brief history
A constant presence in LT
Grammar-Translation method
Reform Movement (late 19th c.): Translation is banned from the classroom (in theory) and from research in Second Language Acquisition
Until today, those teachers who use translation do so with a guilty conscience
Dissenting voices
“... a case in which the baby was thrown out with the bathwater” (Aitkinson 1987:242)
Move towards bilingual teaching
Two important ideas
and one working hypothesis:
1. Both language learning and translation can be seen as means to a common end:

2. Translation: a victim of bad pedagogy rather than its source
The sharp disconnection between translation as a means and as an end in the G-T method was part of the problem. A rethinking of the relationship between the two must be part of the solution.
The relevance of translation competence in language education
Not whether, but how
Need for more empirical research (Berggen 1972, Källvist 2004, Schjoldager 2004)
Translation ought to have a place in language education irrespective of its role in language acquisition
A polemical claim...
... that needs qualifying
Two different arguments in support of translation in LT:
1. Translation aids acquisition

2. Translation is an essential skill for any competent L2 user:
the fifth skill
Translation is not just a means, but an end in itself in language education
Translation competence:
• Communicative and textual competence in at least two languages and cultures
• Cultural and intercultural competence
• Subject area competence
• Professional and instrumental competence (use of documentary resources)
• Attitudinal or psycho-physiological competence (self-concept, self-confidence, attention/concentration, memory, initiative)
• Interpersonal competence (team work; negotiation skills)
• Strategic competence (organizational and planning skills, problem-solving, monitoring, self-assessment and revision) (Kelly 2005: 32-33)
MLA Report 2007: a harmful divorce between "language" and "content" in language studies
The language major should be structured to produce a specific outcome: educated speakers who have deep
translingual and transcultural competence
[...] The idea of translingual and transcultural competence places value on the
ability to operate between languages
[... ] This kind of foreign language education systematically teaches differences in meaning, mentality, and worldview [...] In the course of acquiring functional language abilities, students are taught critical language awareness,
interpretation and translation
, historical and political consciousness, social sensibility, and aesthetic perception.
Foreign Language and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World, MLA Report, pp. 3-4
“In multilingual, multicultural societies [...], and in a world of constant cross-linguistic and cross-cultural global communication, there are reasons to see translation as being widely needed in every day situations, and not as a specialized activity at all” (Cook 2010:109)
One of the most authentic classroom activities
One of the most useful language-based skills
One of the most effective way to teach translingual and transcultural competence
The case for the inclusion of translation in language education
Attitudes from both camps:
1. From LT to translation
Almost complete rejection, but a few dissenting voices (Aitkinson 1987, Lavault 1984, Duff 1989, Grellet 1991, Hallet and König 2010:96-100)
Translation is (unfairly) absent from the literature on task-based language learning
The bilingual move in LT: a climate for revival
2. From translator training to LT
Translation Studies has largely ignored pedagogical translation
... why?
1. Systematic translator training appears in the mid 20th c., a time when translation in LT is discredited

2. TS is a young discipline trying to establish its own identity
Translation as an end must engage with translation as a means
A well-known myth: "future translators should only embark in training once they have mastered their working languages"
A number of translation scholars have argued for dialogue with LT (González Davies 2004, Hurtado 1994: 69, Anderman & Rogers 1990, Newmark 1987/92, Malmkjaer 1998, 2004, Zannirato 2008, Witte et al. 2009, Leonardi 2010)
2. Translation as a means is at its most effective and stimulating when brought as close as possible to translation as an end, that is, to translation as a real-world activity
3. More empirical research is needed. However, beyond the role it can play in acquisition, translation is a key skill - the fifth skill - for any language learner wishing to achieve well-rounded competence in the L2
4. By equipping language learners, and language graduates in particular, with translation skills, we will be increasing their chances of success in today’s and tomorrow’s work market
5. An invitation for dialogue between LT and translator training
Thank you
Angeles Carreres

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