Technical and instrumental competence in the translator's workplace
Massey, Gary; Ehrensberger-Dow, Maureen (2011). Technical and instrumental competence in the translator's workplace: Using process research to identify educational and ergonomic needs. ILCEA, 14/2011. ilcea.revues.org. Peer reviewed.
Although technical and instrumental competence feature prominently in translation competence models and profiles, systematic cognitive research has only recently focused on how they develop, how they can be fostered, and how today's technologies, tools and information resources are impacting on the workplace processes and practices of translators. In this paper, we report on the initial phases of a process-oriented research project investigating student and professional translators' technical and information behaviour in the workplace. We indicate how research of this kind can help identify potential ergonomic problems inherent in the design of user interfaces, including those of standardised translation aids such as readily available online dictionaries. These can impede the efficiency of translation by both slowing down the translation process and diminishing the quality of the product, particularly amongst beginners. It is suggested that targeted instruction in technical and instrumental competence can counteract these effects, for example by raising translators' awareness of the potential pitfalls of indiscriminate use of technology, teaching them how to optimise their workplace practices and thus helping them to meet their ergonomic needs.