Research in Translation
Source: Jenny Williams, Andrew Chesterman, The Map: A Beginner's
Guide to Doing Research in Translation Studies by
1. Areas of Research
1.1 Text Analysis and Translation
Source Text Analysis (semantic, syntactic, stylistic)
Comparison of TT and ST
- equivalence in various aspects.
• The aspects can be derived from certain theories, e.g.
• Or you could start with a kind of translation problem
(the translation of passive sentences, or dialect, or
allusions, for instance), and see how your translators)
have solved the problem, what translation strategies
they have used.
• Or start with specific strategy.
• Comparison of Translations and Non-
– This kind of analysis compares
translations into a given language with
similar texts originally written in that
• Translation with Commentary (annotated
– is a form of introspective and retrospective
research where you yourself translate a text and
at the same time, write a commentary on your
own translation process. This commentary will
include some discussion of the translation
assignment, an analysis of aspects of the source
text, and a reasoned justification of the kinds of
solutions you arrived at for particular kinds of
1.2 Translation Quality Assessment
• Evaluative assessment of translation work
– Source-oriented (equivalence degree of the
– Target oriented (degree of naturalness of the
target text by comparing with parallel text)
– Translation effect-oriented on client, general
readers, etc. (can it meet the expectation)
1.4 Multimedia Translation
• Audiovisual texts are primarily
spoken texts - radio/TV
programmes, films, DVDs, videos,
opera, theatre - which are translated
either by revoicing or sur-/subtitling
1.5 Translation and Technology
• Evaluating translation software
• Software localization
• Effects of Technology
• Website Translation
1.6 Translation History
• When? Where? Who? What? Why? How?
• When: specific time
• Where: specific place
• Who: the initiator, the translator, influencing
• What: text to be or not to be translated
• Why: why a translation and not-translating is
• How: How certain translation affect the history of
translation or target culture.
1.7 Translation Ethics
• Ethics held by the translators (what should
be the good service of translation)?
• Cultural and ideological factors (power,
emancipation, gender, post colonialism,
nationalism, minority, cultural identity,
• Codes of Practice (e.g. Code of Practice
of Indonesian translators)
1.8 Terminology and Glossaries
• How to translate new words?
• How the translation of the new words
compared to ones proposed by Balai
• Conference interpreting (usually
simultaneous, in one direction)
• Liason interpreting, also known as
dialogue or community inter- preting
(usually bi directional)
• Court interpreting (usually bi directional).
• Person, purpose, process, product
1.10 The Translation Process
• Workplace Studies (working lives and
conditions of professional translators.)
• Protocol Studies (to investigate the
translator's internal decision making
process, by using think aloud
methods or retrospective Interviews )
1.11 Translator Training
• Curriculum Design (What to teach and
how to organize them)
• Implementation (content, delivery and
• Typical Problem Areas (universal problem,
language specific problems, students;
• Professional Dimension (How to introduce
the profession into the training program?)
1.12 The Translation Profession
• Qualifications for membership/ membership categories
• The nature of the certification process (if one exists)
• The employment status of the members (freelance,
salaried translators in the private/public sector, part
time/full time?) and their specialism (technical, literary
• The Association's code of ethics
• The benefits of membership
• The Association's role in translation policy
development at local, regional or national level
• The Association's programme of professional
development for members.
2. Type of research
• Conceptual research
– To define or clarify concept, e.g. what translation
equivalence is, what is its relation to translation
– Can be done by means of library study
• Empirical research
– To seek new data or information from observation
and experimentation to seek evidence which supports
or disconfirms hypothesis or generate new
– Here you need to have sound theoretical framework
Characteristics of empirical research
• Can be general and be particular
– What makes a particular translation unique
– What are the general features shared by all
• Describing and explaining
• Predicting, although not 100% correct
(although probabilistic in nature)
• Hypothesis, a tentative claim of observed
patterns or regularities
• Quantitative – to count, compare statistically
– Goal: to make claims about universality, generality of
a phenomenon or feature.
– to say about regularities, tendencies, frequencies,
– More subjective, may require empathy (interview),
imagination (discourse analysis), etc.
• Case study Vs experimental study
• Case study material: single translation,
single translator, single publisher, etc.
• Can be also “multi-site”
• Case study can be:
– Explanatory (why, how)
– Descriptive (what)
Research questions (examples)
• Exploratory research questions:
• What was happening on the translation scene
in eighteenth century France?
• I wonder how professional translators actually
• What literature was translated from German to
French between 1740 and 1760, by whom,
and for which clients?
• What use does a particular sample of
professional medical translators make of
Research question examples
• Descriptive research questions
• What is this translation like, compared to its original?
• How can I describe what the translations by this translator/of this
text type seem to have in common?
• How are these translations different from non-translated texts in
the target language?
• How has the translator dealt with place names?
• What are the relative frequencies of relative and main clauses in
these translations and these comparable non- translated texts?
• Why is this translation like this, with so many errors?
• Why are there so many more relative clauses in these
translations than I would have expected?
• Why was this novel translated and not that one?
• How did the general public react to this new translation of the
• Why did people react like that?
Do we need any hypothesis?
• Yes, if we want to generalize the findings
• No, if we do not want to generalize the