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Panel 2. Expanding the boundaries of translation process research

Translation process research (TPR) seeks to understand what happens in the translator’s mind during translation. It involves the empirical exploration of the cognitive processes associated with translation based on observation and logging of translation behavior. This behavior has often been recorded through the keystrokes used to produce the target text and the translator’s eye movements across the source and target texts on a computer screen. Other recording methods have also been used, including audio/video recording of voice, facial expressions, and gestures, and also (psycho-) physiological methods, such as ECG, EEG and fMRI. All of these methods of recording translator behavior combine well with verbal data elicited during concurrent think-aloud or in retrospective interviews, allowing triangulation of data sets deriving from one and the same translation event.

Classic TPR has expanded the boundaries of our knowledge of the cognitive processes involved in the act of translating, i.e. the processes involved in the reading of the source text, the reformulation of its meaning, and the production of the translation. These processes do not operate in vacuo, however. They are situated; and therefore TPR must continue to be concerned with studying the way in which external (environmental) factors impact processing, especially processes associated with translators’ increasing interactions with technology, and the way internal factors such as personality, affect, and experience influence the translation process. From a theoretical perspective, there is also the issue of reactivity, of how TPR methodology itself may affect the processes we wish to study.

TPR has hitherto mainly addressed tasks involving written translation (including post-editing and audiovisual translation). Studying the impact of external and internal factors on written translation is still highly relevant, but we should not forget that translation, being everywhere, also comes in different modalities and may be becoming increasingly multimodal. Computer-mediated speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and visual forms of translation are gaining ground. Therefore, the panel will also welcome contributions with suggestions for how TPR can be expanded or translate itself into a discipline to study a broader suite of translational forms, as external and internal factors affect translation processes regardless of the modality in which translation is done.

The panel proposers believe this is an opportune time to strengthen TPR by also considering how to move beyond classic TPR. Therefore, while we look forward to contributions in the classic paradigm, we also welcome ideas on how the potential of TPR methodology can be used and/or developed to also address new and emerging forms of translation.

There is still room for further technological innovation, and contributions on that topic would be welcome, but a focus on the development of methodology and analytical tools should not exclude attention to theoretical, interpretative, applied and pedagogical matters. Therefore, the panel will also welcome contributions of a theoretical or interpretative nature, e.g. addressing the question of the validity of the assumed relation between observed/recorded behavioral data and cognitive processes, as well as contributions of an applied, perhaps pedagogical nature, e.g. on how TPR findings can contribute positively to the training of future generations of translators.

As a result of such endeavors, the panel proposers are hoping that strong TPR studies will emerge, throwing new light on phenomena which have already been studied extensively, such as segmentation, directionality, conceptual/procedural processes, expert behavior, etc. as well as studies which will help expand the boundaries of TPR.

  • Name(s) of convener(s): Arnt Lykke Jakobsen, Isabel Lacruz, Fabio Alves & Kristian
    T. Hvelplund
  • Affiliation: Copenhagen Business School, Kent State, Ohio, UFMG, Belo Horizonte, Copenhagen University
  • Email address: alj.ibc@cbs.dk, ilacruz@kent.edu, fabio-alves@ufmg.br, bnm486@hum.ku.dk