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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Severine Hubscher-Davidson [University of Salford] 'What lies beneath? An ethnographic analysis of translator behaviour'

10th March 2009, 16:15, ER148, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

In recent years, an increasing number of studies have sought to investigate the translator's processes when mediating between source and target texts. A number of these studies (Jääskeläinen 1999, Hansen 2005) have made use of the Think-Aloud methodology, often in conjunction with computer logging systems, to better understand what factors affect translators at work, and how they cope with the translating situation.

It seems undeniable that investigating the translation process with technologically advanced methods can reveal important information –cognitive and otherwise– on the translator, and on his relationship with the source and target texts. However, TAPs can also be combined with qualitative methodologies drawn from disciplines such as sociology and ethnography in order to shed light on what underlies translation, and to answer the following questions: What are translators’ strategies, feelings and behaviours are when undertaking a translation task? How are these expressed and connected to the task? What individual processes drive translational behaviours, and in what ways do these behaviours then affect the quality of translations?

This paper will address these questions by analysing data from a number of Think-Aloud interviews which aimed to discover translators’ intentions and strategies during the translation process. The perspective adopted in this paper can be associated with the ethnographic concept of symbolic interactionism, where the aim is to discover the meanings attached to face-to-face interactions and identities (Hammersley & Atkinson 2007). An analysis of interview features (visualisations, awareness) based on my reflections and interpretations will be presented, and then correlated with findings on translators’ psychological and behavioural processes from previous studies conducted with multiple methodologies.

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