THE MINIMAX STRATEGY IN THE USE OF
THEORY IN INTERPRETER AND
TRANSLATOR TRAINING
[email protected]
www.cirinandgile.com
www.est-translationstudies.org
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THEORY IS NECESSARY FOR TRAINING!
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…ALL RIGHT, BUT CAN IT BE USEFUL?
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IN THIS TALK
- WILL ATTEMPT TO SHOW
WHEN AND HOW SOME THEORY
CAN BE USEFUL IN TRANSLATOR/INTERPRETER TRAINING
- WILL ARGUE THAT A GOOD STRATEGY IN INTRODUCING
THEORY IN T/I TRAINING
IS THE
MINIMAX STRATEGY,
THAT IS,
INTRODUCING A MINIMUM AMOUNT OF THEORY
AIMING AT MAXIMUM EFFECT
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WHAT DO STUDENTS ENCOUNTER WHEN
LEARNING T/I?
THEY ENCOUNTER PROBLEMS
SOME OF THEM ARE DUE TO KNOWN CAUSES:
- INSUFFICIENT MASTERY OF THE WORKING LANGUAGES
- INSUFFICIENT THEMATIC KNOWLEDGE
- LACK OF ATTENTION TO THE TASK
BUT IS THIS ALL?
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WONDERING STUDENTS
“I AM TOLD THIS IS ALLOWED AND THAT IS NOT.
WHY?”
“Mr. X TELLS ME THIS IS ALLOWED AND Mr. Y TELLS ME THE
OPPOSITE. WHO IS RIGHT?”
“I HAVE PERFECT MASTERY OF MY A LANGUAGE, BUT FOR SOME
REASON, I LOSE IT DURING INTERPRETING EXERCISES. AM I
SUFFERING FROM JAS (JUVENILE ALZHEIMER SYNDROME)?”
“I FEEL I AM NOT MAKING ANY PROGRESS IN SPITE OF ALL MY
EFFORTS. SHOULD I JUST GIVE UP?”
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ANSWERS???
“DON’T ASK (FOOLISH) QUESTIONS. JUST DO AS I SAY”
“I DON’T KNOW WHY Mr. X SAYS WHAT HE SAYS. WHAT I SAY IS
RIGHT”
“JUST KEEP WORKING. WITH PRACTICE, YOU WILL LEARN”
HOW SATISFACTORY IS THIS FOR YOUNG LEARNERS?
WILL SUCH ANSWERS INSPIRE CONFIDENCE IN INSTRUCTORS?
WILL THEY GIVE STUDENTS CONFIDENCE IN THEMSELVES?
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MORE PROBLEMS
AFTER SCHOOL, GRADUATES WILL ENCOUNTER MARKET
PRESSURE
MARKET PRESSURE WILL TEND TO PUSH THEM AWAY FROM
SOME RULES LEARNED DURING TRAINING
DOES THIS MEAN THAT RULES LEARNED DURING TRAINING ARE
NOT GOOD?
PERHAPS THEY ARE LIKELY TO IMPROVE OVERALL QUALITY –
THOUGH THEY GO AGAINST MARKET PRESSURES?
IF SO, HOW CAN GRADUATES RESIST THE PRESSURE?
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PARTIAL ANSWER: “DIDACTIC THEORY”
MY DEFINITION OF DIDACTIC THEORY:
A CONCEPTUAL CONSTRUCT
WHICH EXPLAINS PHENOMENA
RELEVANT TO LEARNERS
(AND MAY PREDICT THEM PARTLY)
AS OPPOSED TO THEORIES IN RESEARCH
WHICH ARE REQUIRED TO
EXPLAIN AND PREDICT
W/O SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO LEARNERS
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EXPECTATIONS FROM TRAINING
…and from theories
time
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EXPECTATIONS FROM TRAINING
FASTER LEARNING CURVE
HIGHER LEARNING CURVE
WHAT CAN THEORY CONTRIBUTE?
- EXPLANATIONS
- STRUCTURING OF KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
FOR INTERPRETATION OF PHENOMENA
THESE MAY
- CONVINCE STUDENTS
- GUIDE THEM
AND THUS ACCELERATE AND ENHANCE SKILLS
ACQUISITION
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DIDACTIC THEORY SHOULD BE SIMPLE
SO AS TO REQUIRE
- LITTLE TIME INVESTMENT FROM STUDENTS
- LITTLE EFFORT FOR COMPREHENSION AND
APPLICATION
IT IS AN ANCILLARY TOOL
IN A CONTEXT WITH
- LIMITED TIME
- LITTLE MOTIVATION
AS OPPOSED TO
A TOOL AND OBJECTIVE (IN TRANSIT) IN RESEARCH
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MINIMAX
HOW MUCH THEORY IS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE
EXPLANATORY AND GUIDING OBJECTIVES?
HOW PROFITABLE IS FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE
THEORIES IN TERMS OF DIDACTIC EFFICIENCY?
- EXPLANATION OF RELEVANT PHENOMENA
- CONFIDENCE BUILDING
- CLARIFICATION FOR DECISION-MAKING
SEEK BEST BALANCE BETWEEN INVESTMENT AND
RETURN IN MINIMAX STRATEGY
(‘RELEVANCE’)
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HURDLE WHEN LEARNING TRANSLATION:
FIDELITY AND SHIFTS (1)
“I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TAUGHT LANGUAGE EQUIVALENCE.
HOW CAN I BE FAITHFUL TO SOURCE TEXT IF I CHOOSE
WORDS AND STRUCTURES OTHER THAN THE AUTHOR’S?”
“THEORETICAL” IDEAS:
- TRANSLATION DONE AT REQUEST OF CLIENT
TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF SB (ASSUME AUTHOR)
- AUTHOR WANTS TO INFORM, EXPLAIN, CONVINCE…
- IF YOU WANT TO SERVE HIS/HER INTERESTS: INFORM,
EXPLAIN, CONVINCE…
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HURDLE WHEN LEARNING TRANSLATION:
FIDELITY AND SHIFTS (2)
“THEORETICAL” PROPOSITION:
WHEN TRYING TO INFORM, CONVINCE, EXPLAIN, AUTHORS
- DO NOT NECESSARILY CHOOSE WORDS AND STRUCTURES
- DO NOT NECESSARILY LIKE DETAILS OF THE TEXT THEY
HAVE PRODUCED
THEREFORE, MAKING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT CHOICES
DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN BEING UNFAITHFUL IF THE
TARGET TEXT INFORMS, EXPLAINS, CONVINCES…
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HURDLE: FIDELITY AND SHIFTS (3)
“PROOF” THROUGH CLASSROOM EXPERIMENT*:
- SIMPLE IDEAS ARE EXPRESSED DIFFERENTLY BY DIFFERENT
PEOPLE UNDER SAME CONDITIONS
-
PEOPLE TEND TO EXPRESS THE SAME IDEA DIFFERENTLY
UNDER SAME CONDITIONS
-
PEOPLE DO NOT NECESSARILY LIKE OR REMEMBER EXACTLY
WHAT THEY WROTE
-
SOME DIFFERENCES HAVE TO DO WITH THE INTENDED RECEIVER
-
SOME HAVE TO DO WITH LANGUAGE/CULTURE-RELATED
CONSTRAINTS
•
Described in Gile. 1995, 2005. See references at end of presentation.
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HURDLE: FIDELITY AND SHIFTS (4)
THREE COMPONENTS IN THEORETICAL MODULE:
- A THESIS WHICH SAYS PEOPLE DO NOT CONTROL FULLY THEIR
UTTERANCES
- A MODEL OF THE INFORMATIONAL COMPOSITION OF
INFORMATIVE TEXTS
INF = MSG + (FI+LII+PI)
- A REASONED PRIORITIZATION OF INFORMATION RESTITUTION IN
THE TARGET TEXT
HOW DOES IT HELP?
BY EXPLAINING THE CLAIM THAT SOME SHIFTS FROM THE ST ARE
LEGITIMATE
IS IT NOT BETTER THAN JUST CLAIMING IT IS ALL RIGHT TO
DEVIATE FROM THE ST WITHOUT EXPLANATIONS?
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FREQUENT PROBLEMS IN TRANSLATION BY
STUDENTS
- CLUMSY TT
- NONSENSICAL TT
ANALYSIS SHOWS THIS IS DUE TO:
- INSUFFICIENT ANALYSIS OF ST
- LANGUAGE INTERFERENCE BETWEEN SL AND TL
- LACK OF AWARENESS THAT TT SHOULD BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AS
AN AUTHONOMOUS TEXT
WHAT CAN ONE DO ABOUT IT?
ONE ANSWER IS A MODEL (“THEORY”)
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A DIDACTIC TRANSLATION MODEL
Meaning
Hypothesis
Plausible ?
Knowledge Base
TL Wording
Knowledge acquisition
Acceptable ?
Faithful ?
Acceptable ?
Faithful ?
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SOME POINTS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE MODEL
Two phases in translation: comprehension, translation
- To foster analysis before reformulation and prevent meaning
errors
- To prevent linguistic interference
Decisions – The Translator’s responsibility
- On comprehension, to foster analysis and prevent meaning
errors
- On reformulation, to help optimize
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Student weaknesses pinpointed in the model
-
Weaknesses
In knowledge: linguistic/extralinguistic knowledge. In
comprehension phase and reformulation phase
-
In translation methodology: failure to implement tests, to take
decisions
-
In attitude/motivation: failure to implement tests, to acquire
required knowledge, to go through the reformulation loop (TL
wording and acceptability/fidelity tests) until a good result is
achieved.
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Using the sequential model for explanations
and guidance
Pinpoint the areas where the student’s weaknesses lie and tell him/her more
specifically where to focus his/her efforts
-
-
Point out that a professional attitude means willingness to do proper ad hoc
knowledge acquisition
Point out that a professional attitude means willingness to go through the
reformulation loop until all problems are solved satisfactorily.
-
-
Point out that word Processing allows multiple iterations of the
reformulation loop whereas dictation does not.
Discuss directionality using the concept of the reformulation loop
Discuss specialization in terms of less lengthy ad hoc information
acquisition
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Is the sequential model a good model for
research?
Does it account well for actual translation?
No…
- In real life, translation is far less linear
- And parallel processing may occur
- Model is not specific enough to account for all
phenomena
- Architecture not optimized for further development
BUT IT IS USEFUL NEVERTHELESS (?)
MINIMAX
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IN CONFERENCE INTERPRETING
- APPARENT LOSS OF CONTROL IN LANGUAGE SKILLS
DURING INTERPRETING EXERCISES
- LISTENING PROBLEMS WHEN TAKING NOTES
IN CONSECUTIVE
- DIFFICUTLY OF SIMULTANEOUS
STUDENTS DESTABILIZED
WORRIED
THEORETICAL EXPLANATIONS HELP
UNDERSTAND THAT PHENOMENA ARE ‘NORMAL’ AND
WILL GRADUALLY BECOME LESS PROBLEMATIC
EFFORT MODELS (Gile 1995)
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WHEN THINKING ABOUT GENERAL ISSUES
APTITUDES FOR TRANSLATION VS. INTERPRETING
DIRECTIONALITY
TRANSLATION/INTERPRETING QUALITY
QUALITY PERCEPTION
…
SOME THEORY CAN BE USEFUL
IN PROVIDING CONCEPTS AND STRUCTURES FOR
REFERENCE
TO DISCUSS THESE ISSUES
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GOING DEEPER INTO THEORIES? (1)
TEXT LINGUISTICS?
COGNITIVE LINGUISTICS?
PRAGMATICS?
COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY?
SCHEME THEORY?
MENTAL MODELS THEORY?
PHILOSOPHY?
LITERARY THEORY?
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES?
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GOING DEEPER INTO THEORIES? (2)
SUCH THEORIES ARE INTERESTING
OFFER FOOD FOR THOUGHT
CAN BE QUITE STIMULATING
But…
REQUIRE SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT FROM STUDENTS
IF STUDENTS ARE INTERESTED – FINE
IF ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS INCLUDE THEORY – OK
OTHERWISE, SEEK OPTIMUM BALANCE BETWEEN
INVESTMENT AND EXPECTED CONTRIBUTION
MINIMAX
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DOES THIS APPROACH WORK?
FEEDBACK FROM STUDENTS AND FELLOW INSTRUCTORS OVER
THE YEARS
IN PARTICULAR FROM STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS WHO WERE
RELUCTANT TO USE THEORY
SUGGESTS IT DOES
But…
THE PROOF WILL BE IN YOUR OWN PUDDING
TRY OUT MODULES DESCRIBED IN REFERENCES IN NEXT SLIDE
EACH WILL ONLY TAKE ABOUT ONE HOUR TO 90 MINUTES OF
YOUR AND THE STUDENTS’ TIME
GOOD LUCK!
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REFERENCES
Gile, Daniel. 1995. Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator
Training. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Gile, Daniel. 2005. La traduction. La comprendre, l’apprendre. Paris: PUF.
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