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Enríquez Raído, Vanessa (2014). Translation and Web Searching.

New York and London: Routledge, pp. 212, £80.00. ISBN: 978-0-415-85729-1 (hardback), 978-0-203-79803-4 (ebook).

It is true to say that the World Wide Web has profoundly changed the way translators work, in terms of both the speed of access to information and the scope of available resources. Yet, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, while the Web has become part and parcel of translators’ professional lives, research into information-seeking patterns of Internet use among translators has so far been rather scarce.

Enríquez Raído’s book addresses this gap in the literature. By combining insights from research into translator competencies, translation processes and information behaviour theories, the author has produced a valuable study of web-searching practices among translators and translation students, thus contributing to the discussion of translators’ information-retrieval skills and other documentary competencies. Based on a case study, the book also has an important didactic potential as a tool for defining the content and scope of online information literacy provision in translator training.

The volume consists of eight chapters. In chapter 1, the author presents the scope of her research, situating it as multidisciplinary with implications for translation pedagogy and documentary competence studies. Chapter 2 includes a detailed review of process research methodologies employed in translation studies, thus drawing attention to the important shift from product to process scholarship in the discipline. The thorough discussion of existing research into the use of reference materials by novice and experienced translators can be of considerable practical use for translation process researchers.

In chapter 3, the author discusses the theoretical framework underlying her case study, focusing in particular on the cognitive and problem-solving approaches to information search practices in a bid to “understand information needs and information uses as a potential means to inform translation decisions that may in turn lead to translation problem solving” (35). The other half of the chapter concentrates on what constitutes expertise in web search techniques with regard to translation practice, including aspects such as information search, retrieval, evaluation and storage.

Chapter 4 presents a comprehensive survey of specific research methods into information behaviour in translation studies, covering introspective methods such as think-aloud protocols, written reports, data sheets and questionnaires, and direct observation methods such as note taking, video recording, keystroke logging, screen recording and eye tracking. The author discusses the pros and cons of each approach, arguing convincingly that a mixed approach is necessary to account for the complexities of translators’ web-searching practices. Her own study uses a combination of the background questionnaire, search report, screen recording, and retrospective interview, and some conclusions as to the effectiveness of these methods are presented at the end of chapter 8.

A detailed presentation of the goals, specific methodology and research design of the case study as well as the participants’ background is given in chapter 5. The author is interested in finding out what types of web-search tasks translators perform, how they perceive them with regard to their effectiveness and how these perceptions compare to actual translation problem solving. Overall, given the limited number of participants and their different profiles (two professional translators with different types of experience in the pilot study, and four translation students, also with different skills and experience, in the main study), the case study can probably best be viewed as an exploratory one, paving the way to further, more extensive research.

Chapters 6 and 7 provide an elaborate discussion of the results of two experiments where the participants were asked to translate a short text. Their web-search behaviours were traced using the above-mentioned methods. The findings are conveniently summarised in chapter 8, and complemented by an overview of their implications for translation pedagogy. One conclusion was that the level of translation experience finds reflection in the translator’s information needs, with the more experienced translators using available resources mainly for target text production goals, and the less experienced ones – for source text comprehension goals. The student participants’ searches were often limited to bi- and monolingual dictionaries, whereas the most experienced participant exhibited a preference a wide variety of resources employed for frequency checks, parallel texts and encyclopaedic information. The students seemed more interested in retrieving equivalents, while the experienced translator spent more time acquiring background knowledge on the topic of the source text. Also, the type of queries used correlated with the participants’ level of web search expertise, with the less experienced participants favouring simpler queries with little use of search operators or other methods of query refinement.

The above findings obviously have important implications for translation pedagogy. The author draws attention to the need to train students in web search techniques which would go beyond shallow searching based on simple queries towards a deeper searching style based on various types of interactions, such as the use of query modifications, search operators and lexical filters to acquire more relevant content. Also preferable would be more awareness of the need for cross-checking solutions in various resources as well as less reliance on online bilingual dictionaries as this tends to have repercussions on the quality of the translation. The author argues that the teaching of online information skills should form a “highly applied and contextualised” part of translator training “thus enabling students to develop and enhance said skills through meaningful and experiential learning” (183). One important implication is that instead of the acquisition of specialised knowledge in several domains, translator training should perhaps concentrate on the acquisition of information skills enabling translators to deal with various areas of specialisation.

Thanks to its scope and multidisciplinary approach, Enríquez Raído’s book constitutes an important contribution to both translation process research and the design of translation training programmes and curricula. It is also essential reading for scholars interested in empirically-based translation scholarship based on the sociological grounded-theory method. While the level of detail in some of the chapters does not perhaps contribute to particularly easy reading, the book is highly recommended to both researchers interested in translator’s behaviour and translation teachers and trainers interested in web-search expertise as part of translator competence.


Agata Sadza
London Metropolitan University