The Development of Translation Competence

project team

The Project

TransComp is a process-oriented longitudinal study which explores the development of translation competence in 12 students of translation over a period of 3 years and compares it to that of 10 professional translators. It was started in October 2007 and is hoped to make an important contribution to the development of the methodology and model building in process-oriented translation studies by overcoming a number of shortcomings of previous studies. The insight into the components which make up translation competence and into its development gained in the project will be utilized for translation pedagogy and the improvement of curricula for translator training. Developing more efficient methods of translator training is a necessity which results from a shortening of degree programmes in translation as a consequence of the Bologna process.

Selection criteria for the student subjects were very good or good grades in German and English in their A-level reports and equivalent results in tests which measure the subjects' ability for semantic differentiation and their motivation. The subjects will all follow the same BA programme with German as their mother tongue (A-language) and English as their B-language. The professional translators selected have been earning their living as translators for at least 10 years.

The translation competence of the 12 subjects will be analyzed at the beginning of each of the 6 first semesters and at the end of the sixth semester of their programme. At the times specified, the student subjects, who will be divided into two groups, will translate a total number of 10 different texts from English into German according to a specific scheme. Five of these texts will also be translated by each of the 10 professional translators.

The texts to be translated offer a repertoire of different translation problems (lexical, syntactical, pragmatic, textlinguistic, culture-specific, creativity-demanding and comprehensibility-related problems). They will have to be translated in Translog, which registers all key strokes, mouse clicks, and the time intervals between them. To guarantee ecological validity, the subjects may use the Internet and any electronic as well as conventional resources, whose use will be registered by Camtasia Studio or observers (in the case of conventional resources). Furthermore, eye-tracking equipment will be used in some cases. During the experiment, the subjects will either have to think aloud or have to comment on their translation processes retrospectively (immediate retrospection). For these retrospections their screen recordings will be used as prompts.

The verbal-report data will be transcribed using XML-markup; the transcripts will also include the subjects' search activities. After the translation process, retrospective interviews will be conducted with those subjects who had to think aloud. The results will be triangulated, set in relation to the quality of their translation products, and used to optimize refined versions of the translation competence and the translation competence acquisition models of the PACTE group (2003). All primary data obtained in the experiments will be made available to the scientific community in an asset management system which is accessible from this website.