LINGUIST List 13.1036

Mon Apr 15 2002

Diss: Applied Ling: Olk "The translation of..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. ho1, Applied Ling: Olk "The translation of cultural references"

Message 1: Applied Ling: Olk "The translation of cultural references"

Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 14:16:28 +0000
From: ho1 <>
Subject: Applied Ling: Olk "The translation of cultural references"

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: University of Kent/Canterbury Christ Church University College
Program: PhD (Language Studies)
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Harald Martin Olk 

Dissertation Title: 
The translation of cultural references

Linguistic Field: Translation, Applied Linguistics 

Dissertation Director 1: Stephen Bax 
Dissertation Director 2: Adrian Holliday 
Dissertation Director 3: Norbert Pachler 

Dissertation Abstract: 

In the thesis the translational behaviour of two groups of
degree-level university students and their educational background are
investigated. 38 British students studying German at a British
university and German students studying English at a German university
were asked to think aloud while translating an English text featuring
a high frequency of British cultural references at word and phrase
level (CRs) into German. Subsequently, the students were interviewed
about their approach to translating the CRs. The translational data
were then analysed with respect to potentially problematic aspects in
the students' approach to CR translation. In the analysis five
potentially problematic areas were identified: (1) lack of cultural
knowledge, (2) insufficient reference skills, (3) lack of text-level
processes, (4) source-oriented processing and (5) an apparently low
degree of awareness at a discourse level.

These findings were then related to data gathered about the students'
tertiary-level language education. As the study suggests, potential
problems in the students' approach may have been related at least in
part to their language education. Thus, teaching methods in higher
education, which appear likely to have resulted in low retention
rates, were possibly responsible for the German students' apparently
relatively poor cultural knowledge. Low dictionary awareness seemed a
possible result of a rather dismissive stance towards the development
of reference skills at both universities. Furthermore, the extensive
use of translation as a grammar and vocabulary exercise, necessitating
close scrutiny of source texts at micro-level, may have contributed to
the source-oriented processing of the students and the apparent lack
of text-level processes. Finally, the normative focus of the
translation classes on correct language use seems to have encouraged
little reflection about translation beyond the notions of accuracy and
correctness, and may in this way be partially responsible for the
apparently low discursive awareness. Based on these findings,
suggestions will be made in the thesis as to how teaching practice
could be improved.

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