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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Translation of Cultural References Add Dissertation
Author: Harald Olk Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Kent at Canterbury, PhD (Language Studies)
Completed in: 2001
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics; Translation;
Subject Language(s): German
Director(s): Stephen Bax
Adrian Holliday
Norbert Pachler

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.