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Capturing Translation Processes (CTP)

At a glance


The question of what translators really do when they translate and how they do it is the focus of this applied linguistics project, a large-scale longitudinal workplace study of translation processes and the development of translation competence. By “translation processes”, we mean the entire process of production of a translation: it begins when a prospective translator realizes what the assignment is and ends when the translator submits the text to the next level (which, depending on the workplace, might be to a translation teacher, to another translation or supervisor for revision, or directly to a client). By “translation competence”, we mean the knowledge that translators require to perform their linguistic work (such as language expertise, translation principles, and research skills).

The multi-method approach we use to capture the translation processes of students, novices, and experienced professionals at different points in their careers is as naturalistic and non-invasive as possible. It combines observation of the workplace, interviews, questionnaires, computer logging, screenshot recordings, eye-tracking, and retrospective verbalizations. This approach allows us to make comparisons across different types of processes (e.g. translation with and without translation memory resources, revision and editing, translation in the workplace and in controlled settings), language combinations (e.g. English, French, or Italian into or out of German), and directions (e.g. English-German and German-English) within individuals over time and across tasks and between groups of translators.

This combination of techniques in our approach opens a window onto the mind of translators and releases hidden expert knowledge, allowing inferences to be made about the practices and strategies that guide translation processes, considerations translators might make, and the awareness translators have of what they are doing. A greater understanding of translation processes will allow refinements to be made to models of translation competence and for us to ascertain which factors contribute to translation quality. By deducing effective translation practices and strategies, we can develop best-practice models of translation processes for industry, which can also be incorporated into post-graduate professional development courses for translators. Gaining answers to practical problems in turn will provide input to curriculum development for undergraduate and graduate translation programs in Switzerland and abroad.

Further information