Defining phases of the translation process: Revision as a case in point
Massey, Gary; Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen; Hunziker Heeb, Andrea (2013). Defining phases of the translation process: Revision as a case in point: Conference paper. In: 2. Sektionentagung der Gesellschaft für angewandte Linguistik e.V.. Übersetzungs- und Dolmetschwissenschaft: Makrodefinitionen und Mikrodefinitionen. (September 19-20, 2013). Aachen: GAL.
Krings’ (1986) description of translation in terms of three phases (Vorlauf, Hauptlauf, Nachlauf) has provided a framework for considering the process both from an external perspective, as part of a system (e.g. Schubert 2009), and internally, as a cognitive activity (e.g. Englund Dimitrova 2005; Göpferich 2008). In the latter case, comparisons have been made between translators assumed to have different levels of competence, and evidence has been found to support the claim that professionals differ from students in every phase of the process (e.g. how quickly they orient themselves to a translation task, how smoothly they produce target text, and how much they revise; see Ehrensberger-Dow & Massey 2013). Empirical translation studies has been at the forefront of applying new technology in attempts to gain richer descriptions of the internal or cognitive process. For example, the duration of activities during, before, and after target text production can be monitored with non-invasive techniques such as screen recording, keylogging, and eye tracking. Because of the measurement precision provided by such technology, the definitions of these phases, and indeed their usefulness as theoretical constructs, can be called into question.
In this paper, we highlight the problematic nature of these constructs by focusing on revision activities in translation processes. In doing so, we also address the question of what a draft translation is, especially in the context of professional translation involving TM and/or MT support. The data is drawn from the corpus of our longitudinal Capturing Translation Processes (CTP) project, in which translators with various levels of experience have been monitored while translating in the controlled setting of our usability lab or at their usual workplaces. Analyses of keylogging and screen recording data reveal that revisions are actually a more prominent feature of what has been termed the drafting phase than of the post-drafting phase. Since many of the processes in our corpus reveal relatively few substantial changes in the post-drafting phase, such self-revision may be less important in the cognitive translation process than sometimes suggested. This in turn has potential implications for the revision-based “controlling influences” (Schubert 2009) of the external translation process.
Englund Dimitrova, B. (2010). Translation process. In: Handbook of Translation Studies 1, ed. by Gambier, Y. & van Doorslaer, L.(eds.), 406-411. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen & Gary Massey (2013/forthcoming). Indicators of translation competence: Translators’ self-concepts and the translation of titles, Journal of Writing Research (Special section on translation).
Göpferich, Susanne (2008). Translationsprozessforschung. Stand - Methoden - Perspektiven. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.
Krings, Hans P. (1986). Was in den Köpfen von Übersetzern vorgeht. Eine empirische Untersuchung zur Struktur des Übersetzungsprozesses an fortgeschrittenen Französischlernern. Tübingen: Gunter Narr (Tübinger Beiträge zur Linguistik 291).
Schubert, Klaus (2009). Positioning translation in technical communication studies. The Journal of Specialised Translation 11, 17-30.