LINGUIST List 15.496

Fri Feb 6 2004

Review: Translation: Baer & Koby (2003)

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  1. Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud, Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy

Message 1: Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy

Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2004 23:14:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud <>
Subject: Beyond the Ivory Tower: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy

EDITOR: Baer, Brian James; Koby, Geoffrey S. 
TITLE: Beyond the Ivory Tower 
SUBTITLE: Rethinking Translation Pedagogy 
SERIES: American Translators Association Scholarly Monograph Series xii 
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins 
YEAR: 2003

Announced at

Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud, Associate Professor of Linguistics, 
Faculty of Arts, Assiut University, Egypt.


This book consists of three sections. The articles in the first
section explore various pedagogical interventions that are focused on
translation as process. The articles in the second section discuss
approaches to translator training that deal with translation as
product, raising issues of assessment and text revision in both
professional and academic settings. The articles in the third section
address some of the pedagogical opportunities and challenges raised by
developments in translation-related technologies.

Section one begins with Donald Kiraly's discussion of process-oriented
pedagogy. In an attempt to displace the traditional objectivist
approach to translator, Kiraly proposes the incorporation of an
innovative social-constructivist approach. He also calls for the
redefinition of translator competence in order to address the
disparity between what is learned in the classroom and what is
practiced in the field.

In her article, ''Towards an empirically-based translation pedagogy'',
Sonia Colina addresses the issue of communicative translational
competence. According to Colina, the aim of communicative
translational competence is to encourage a more sense-oriented
approach to translation by focusing on the textual and pragmatic
considerations, which traditional approaches to translation ignored.

In her article, ''Think-alouds as a pedagogical tool'', Judy
Wakabayashi explores the effectiveness of using Think-Aloud Protocols
in the classroom in order to highlight the differences between the
processing performed by novices and that of translation
professionals. In so doing, she emphasizes the role of the
psycholinguistic research in the development of translation pedagogy.

Alexander Gross's article, titled ''Teaching translation as a form of
writing'', aims at improving the student's self-image as a translator.
Gross argues that by drawing attention to the similarities between the
work of journalists and that of translators, translation can be
presented as a form of target language writing.

Section two begins with Julie Johnson's ''Learning through portfolios
in the translation classroom''. In this article, Johnson explores the
ways in which portfolios can be used as an assessment tool in order to
make the translation classroom more learner-centered. She argues that
the proper use of portfolios can contribute to the preparation of
translators who are skilled, intuitive, and self-reflective.

In their article ''Assessing assessment..'', Fanny Arango-Keeth and
Geoffrey Koby address the disparity between student evaluation in
translator training and quality assessment as practiced in the
translation industry. They report on a survey of such practices that
they conducted in early 2002, and argue for greater harmonization and
coordination between the two settings.

In his article ''Teaching text revision in a multilingual
environment'', Jonathan Hine discusses the challenges of teaching the
important but often neglected skill of text revision within a
multilingual environment, offering a case study of one such course.

Maier's article ''Gender, pedagogy and literary translation''
continues the discussion of translation as product. In this article,
Maier explores the various ways in which the comparative study of
translation can help literary translators become more sensitive to
issues of class, gender, race, religion and ethnicity in their work.

The main objective of Natalia Olshanskaya's article is how to improve
the student's communicative competence. Olshanskaya argues that
linguistic competence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for
translation adequacy. She also suggests an important role for
translation criticism in the teaching of translation competence. She
concludes that ''communicative competence can be achieved only through
a well-balanced combination of linguistic and cultural information.''

Section three begins with Lynn Bowker's article, titled ''Towards a
collaborative approach to corpus building in the translation
classroom''. In this article, article Bowker explores the pedagogical
possibilities opened up by new technology, specifically for the
building of the corpora.

In their article ''Task-based instruction and the new technology'',
Geoffrey Koby and Brian James Baer explore some of the challenges
posed to translation pedagogy by the development of new
technologies. Koby and Baer suggest that ''task-based Instruction may
be an appropriate methodology for teaching translation-related
technologies in that it increases student motivation, replicates real
world situations and engages higher-level cognitive processing''.

In their article ''Building a curriculum for Japanese localization
translators..'', Takashi Kosaka and Masaki Itagaki address general
pedagogical issues related to the teaching of software localization,
as well as specific problems involved with localization between
English and Japanese. They suggest that the dearth of qualified
localization instructors can be remedied through a social-
constructivist approach to teaching.


It is true that much of what has been written about translation is
drowned out by endless debates over theory versus practice. As a
result, translation practitioners and teachers of translation see
little value in academic theorizing on translation. What is unique
about this book is that the contributors have combined both theory and
practice by offering discussions of pedagogical models as well as
practical techniques and guidelines. The book also focuses on the
pedagogical issues typically ignored within the theory vs. practice
debate. In particular, it calls for a more process-oriented,
learner-centered approach to translation training. I think that the
book is a unique contribution to the area of translation pedagogy and

Especially valuable in this book is the focus on translational
communicative competence and the relevance of pragmatic and
socio-cultural factors to translation as process and product. The
analyses and arguments presented in this book bring new insights to a
very important area within translation studies: translation
pedagogy. I believe that this book is a useful reference and is an
asset to any library. In particular, I would recommend it for teachers
of translation, translation trainers, and graduate students of

However, I have two brief comments. Firstly, I think that the
linguistic component of translation and its impact on translation
pedagogy should have received more emphasis. In particular, in such a
valuable volume, I would expect more elaboration on the role of
contrastive macro-linguistics (text-linguistics) in translation
training. (For details on this issue, see Basil Hatim (1997) and
Daniel Gile (1995), among others). Secondly, I wonder if the
pedagogical implications and techniques explored in these articles
should have been related to some of the linguistic notions relevant to
translation (e.g. the notion of cross-linguistic interference) to see
how these notions would be handled within such pedagogical
implications and techniques.


Hatim, Basil. 1997. Communication Across Culture: Translation Theory
and Contrastive Text Linguistics. Exeter: Exeter University Press.

Gile, Daniel. 1995. Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and
Translator Training. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing


Abdelgawad T. Mahmoud has obtained his Ph.D. degree in Linguistics
from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1989. Currently, he
is the Chairman of the English Department and the Director of the
English Language Center and the Translation Center at the Faculty of
Arts, Assiut University, Egypt. He has worked for ten years as
Associate Professor of Linguistics and Translation at King Saud
University. He has published a number of articles on Arabic and
English Linguistics (e.g. The Syntax and Semantics of Middle and
Unaccusative Constructions, Locative Alternations, Psych-Verbs,
Lexical Incorporation and Resultative Predication and Implicit
Objecthood). His current research interest is the relevance of Lexical
Semantics to Arabic/English translation.
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