Alexander Künzli (ed.) (2005) Empirical Research into Translation and Interpreting
Neuchâtel: Bulletin Suisse de linguistique appliquée no. 81 pp. 166 CH Franc 25 ISSN 1023-2044
Although the Bulletin Suisse de linguistique appliquée, a bi-annual journal which as its name indicates, focuses on issues in applied linguistics, this volume is devoted to translation and interpreting. This reflects the cross-fertilizing between the disciplines, particularly visible in recent years. The volume gathers nine articles concerning processes taking place in translation and interpreting as well as the relationship between processes and products. The majority of articles are written in English, but two are in French and one in German, in line with the trilingual editorial policies of the Bulletin. Indeed, one of the interests of this publication consists in the wide array of language pairs it discusses in relation to translation and interpreting issues: Hungarian into French, Russian and French into Swedish, French into German and into Norwegian are pairs studied less frequently than those involving two major languages. From anticipation in simultaneous interpreting to subject-field competency in technical translation, the emphasis is on professional aspects of language mediation. Some articles, such as the first one, by Louise Audet and Jeanne Dancette are devoted to literary translation but even then, the approach aims to be practical, both as regards the methodology used (comparative analysis of several Think-Aloud Protocols) and the topic researched (creative process undertaken in literary translation). In addition to this range of analyses based on empirical research, a key notion binds the articles of this volume together, the notion of process. Although the concept of process has long been considered as central to interpreting, its importance has been somewhat minimised in translation studies where the product remains the major object of study. Birgita Englund-Dimitrova's article on explicitation, a concept explored until now primarily at text level, considers it within a combined product and process perspective and calls for further research on what factors may influence translators to produce a reformulation, such as an explicitation. Alexander Künzli continues previous work on working processes in technical translation, with a fresh approach to a study of twenty translators translating a telecommunication brochure. He asks questions relating to subject-field knowledge vs translation competence. His study suggests that the debate cannot be solved theoretically and that a successful balance between the two is dependent on each translator's capacity to use linguistic and extra-linguistic knowledge. The third, fourth and sixth articles of the volume focus on interpreting. Ingrid Kurz discusses the detrimental effect that a strong foreign accent has on simultaneous interpreters working into a language which is not their mother tongue. Barbara Moser-Mercer shares results of an experiment to evaluate human and technical factors in remote interpreting. Kilian Seebe discusses the phenomenon of anticipation in the simultaneous interpreting of Subject-Object-Verb German structures. In a pilot study, she considers the accuracy and time of the anticipation in relation to a range of variables such as speed of delivery. Two contributors combine TAP (Think-Aloud-Protocol) and a Translog study Antin Fougner Rydning analyses the processes taking place with three professional translators facing comprehension or reformulation difficulties and outline some common characteristics in problem-solving, as regards comprehension, reformulation and methods or justification, while Beatie Trandem's study confirms the common hypothesis that professional translators are more aware of the communication situations of the target text.
The scope of these studies varies and some of them may be considered too limited to be fully representative. Nevertheless, the focus on process, so far often neglected into Translation Studies, the consistent desire to follow empirical research methods, and the priority given to professional translation give this small volume a sense of unit and makes it valuable to both translation trainers and researchers.
Lucile Desblache, Roehampton University