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Khurshid, Ahmad & Margaret Rogers (eds) (2007). Evidence-based LSP: Translation, Text and Terminology.

Bern: Peter Lang, 584 pp. 77.80 €  / £ 58.40 (Paperback) ISBN 978-3-03911-187-9.

With the need for Translation Studies to assert itself as an empirically-based, objective and, perhaps, scientific field of endeavour, the publication of “Evidence-based LSP” edited by Ahmad Khurshid and Margaret Rogers is indeed a timely addition to the literature. Seeking to apply the same evidence-based approach to translation as that adopted by the medical profession, for example, this volume contains a range of papers which examine LSP communication on the basis of observable and quantifiable empirical data obtained using corpus-based approaches.

This book is divided into five sections entitled Corpora as Evidence of Language Use; Constructing LSP Texts; Dichotomies in LSP Research; Terminology and Knowledge Management and Challenges in LSP Translation and comprises a total of 31 papers spanning a broad range of areas. It would be impossible to mention each paper individually so the following paragraphs highlight some of the more noteworthy contributions.

Ragan (119-141) discusses the controlled language of “Airspeak” which is used in aviation and shows that while such controlled languages are commonly regarded as acultural, cultural factors can and do have an impact on specialised communication. As Ragan demonstrates, this can sometimes have quite disastrous consequences. Similarly, Aguado de Cea and Álvarez de Mon y Rego (357-374) maintain that technical texts are far from acultural as posited by Newmark (1988:151) and identify four discrete levels upon which cultural influences act.

Two rather novel and interesting contributions come from Klaus-Dieter Baumann (323-344) and Michael Wittwer (345-356) who both examine emotion in LSP texts. What makes these papers so interesting is that they challenge the notion that specialised discourse is largely objective and impersonal. Emotion, being a personal and psychological phenomenon, would seem to be at odds with commonly held perceptions of LSP communication yet Baumann – citing Vester’s definition of emotions as “culturally specific knowledge that is socialised, controlled, constructed and conventionalised” (1991: 98) – finds evidence of emotion in texts on functional, textual, stylistic and syntactic levels as well as in punctuation, terminology and morphology of texts.

Other contributions of note include Parianou and Kelandrias (525-540) who examine the translation of instructions and who suggest that strategies employed by the localisation industry can prove useful when translating such texts. Saridakis and Kostopoulou (573-584) seek to apply the evidence-based approach presented by corpora in LSP pedagogy and they discuss the use of corpus tools to observe patterns, variations and lexical equivalents when training specialised translators.

Overall, this is quite a substantial book and the sheer number of papers makes it a formidable read. While this is not intended as a criticism, it does mean that there is less space available for contributors to present their ideas and findings in detail; some of the more interesting and novel papers would have benefited from additional space in which to expand on their methods and results. Similarly, it is less than clear why some papers have been included as their contribution, relative to others, is less valuable. Nevertheless, the book covers a wide range of topics which makes it both rewarding and useful. By introducing interesting new approaches and insights it provides new incentives for experienced researchers to use corpora. For junior researchers and students, it demonstrates a range of potential models and methodologies for conducting research. The evidence-based approach used in this volume also achieves two very useful things: (1) it shows various practical applications of corpus-based TS in the study of specialised translation and, perhaps more importantly, (2) it adds greater credibility to research in TS by providing a scientific, verifiable and repeatable method of studying texts.

If there is one main criticism of this book it is that the standard of the contributions is somewhat inconsistent at times and the relevance of certain papers is occasionally less than clear. One wonders whether the number of papers could not have been trimmed slightly, firstly, to ensure that all of the papers are of the same standard and relevance, and secondly, to provide more space to allow authors to provide more detail. Having said this, it is worth noting that such papers are in the minority and the editors have, by and large, assembled a sound, interesting and rewarding selection of papers.

In summary, this volume encompasses a wide range of domains, approaches and insights and I can warmly recommend it as one of the most comprehensive and useful volumes on specialised translation.

References

  • Newmark, Peter (1988) A Textbook of Translation. New York: Prentice Hall.
  • Vester, Heinz-Günter (1991) Emotion, Gesellschaft und Kultur: Grundzüge einer soziologischen Theorie der Emotionen. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

Jody Byrne, University of Sheffield
j.byrne@sheffield.ac.uk