Constructing Translation Competence

by Paulina Pietrzak (Volume editor) Mikołaj Deckert (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 296 Pages
Series: Łódź Studies in Language, Volume 39


«The volume reflects latest trends and developments in the field of translator and interpreter training research, reconciling both theoretical and empirical approaches. The strength of the edited volume lies in its thematic and conceptual consistency, presentation and application of a variety of innovative methodologies and approaches and providing interesting, research-based practical solutions that can be effectively used in the classroom. I am deeply convinced that the volume constitutes a valuable, thought-provoking and useful contribution to the field that will be of interest to the community of researchers and educators.»
Dr hab. Joanna Dybiec-Gajer, Associate Professor, Pedagogical University of Cracow

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Paulina Pietrzak & Mikołaj Deckert - Introduction
  • Theories and perspectives
  • Maria Piotrowska - Revisiting the translator competence in the 21st century
  • Gary Massey, Peter Jud & Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow - Building competence and bridges: the potential of action research in translator education
  • Ewa Kościałkowska-Okońska - Translation teaching: how to make it more effective for our students?
  • Magdalena Kizeweter - Elements of translation theory as part of practical translation classes: why, what and how. Remarks by a practical translation teacher
  • Jacek Tadeusz Waliński - Application of conceptual conditions for translation of fictive motion
  • LSP in translator training
  • Stanisław Goźdź-Roszkowski - Generic integrity, intertextual patterning and their role in teaching legal translation
  • Aleksandra Beata Makowska - Raising students’ awareness of challenges in the translation of safety data sheets
  • Iwona Sikora - Students’ errors in business translation: causes, consequences and implications
  • Interpreting competence
  • Agnieszka Chmiel - Contextualising interpreter training through simulated conferences
  • Marcin Walczyński - Students’ anxiety and stress during a consecutive interpreting test and their influence on interpreting output quality: a preliminary small-scale study discussion
  • Wojciech Figiel - Teaching translation and interpreting to students with vision impairments
  • Translation classroom practice
  • Paulina Pietrzak - Using verbal protocols for translator training purposes
  • Urszula Paradowska - Expert web searching skills for translators – a multiple-case study
  • Magdalena Kopczyńska - Teaching business translation. How to address students’ needs and help them master the economic jargon
  • Janusz Wróblewski - Translation problems for translation trainees
  • Michał Kornacki - The “making of” a translator – a functional approach to translator training

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The major objective behind the present volume is to provide current methodological insights into translation didactics. It investigates both theoretical and practical aspects of translator training with a view to sharing findings and resources among those who contribute to the complex and challenging endeavour of constructing translation competence.

This training-centred work comprises a total of sixteen articles that report on research from various training environments. It opens with a section devoted to theories and perspectives in Translation Pedagogy. In the opening article, Maria Piotrowska’s “Revisiting the Translator Competence in the 21st century”, the author analyses the evolution of the concept of the translator competence in response to paradigmatic changes within Translation Studies. The article argues for the need to anchor pedagogical approach to translation on the epistemological base and validate the existing Translator Competence models for teaching purposes.

Gary Massey, Peter Jud and Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow in their paper “Building competence and bridges: the potential of action research in translator education” discuss actual process-oriented projects conducted at the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in Zurich where action research was employed. Their aim is to see to what extent the tool can benefit both students and teachers.

In the article that follows – “Translation teaching: how to make it more effective for our students?” – Ewa Kościałkowska-Okońska discusses the discrepancy between the assumed goals of translator training and system requirements imposed by state educational legislation and higher education institutions. In search for the golden means between market and institutional requirements, the author addresses questions of students’ awareness regarding problem areas that they may encounter in their work, self- and peer-assessment in the teacher-student interaction, and the expectations of students themselves.

Magdalena Kizeweter’s paper “Elements of translation theory as part of practical translation classes: why, what and how. Remarks by a practical translation teacher” focuses on the foundational problem of links between translation theory and practice. By surveying the interface, the author comes up with suggestions as to whether and why theoretical background is necessary for successful translational performance.

In his paper “Application of conceptual conditions for translation of fictive motion” Jacek Tadeusz Waliński draws on the constructs from cognitive linguistics to look into how the re-conceptualisation cycles of translation work in the case ← 7 | 8 → of fictive motion. His starting point is that naturalness functions as a constitutive parameter of equivalence and fictive motion expressions can productively serve as an illustration.

With the contribution by Stanisław Goźdź-Roszkowski we pass on to the next three papers concerned primarily with teaching specialised translation. The paper “Generic integrity, intertextual patterning and their role in teaching legal translation” advocates the relevance of integrating the concepts of generic integrity and genre set into legal translation education. The author suggests a contextualised approach to translator training which aims at developing trainees’ generic expertise through highlighting intertextual relationships.

In her article “Raising students’ awareness of challenges in the translation of safety data sheets”, Aleksandra Beata Makowska discusses the current situation on specialised translation market and typical problems that specialised translation trainees encounter. Using the example of safety data sheets, the author talks about a range of requirements that the documentation needs to fulfill and offers a method of training through a comparative analysis of authentic material.

Iwona Sikora investigates the performance of business translators-to-be. In the paper titled “Students’ errors in business translation: causes, consequences and implications” she proposes a typology of recurrent errors, or error patterns, and list types of prominent motivating factors. For that purpose the author uses an assessment form designed specifically with the business specialisation in mind.

The paper “Contextualising interpreter training through simulated conferences” by Agnieszka Chmiel opens the part devoted to interpreting competence. The observations reported in this paper provide pointers for the integration of situated project-based learning into interpreter training. Having analysed the most recent reports on competences required on the job market, the author suggests necessary curriculum adjustments to ensure that interpreting students are exposed to near-authentic settings students, which can be organised in the form of simulated conferences.

Marcin Walczyński’s “Students’ anxiety and stress during a consecutive interpreting test and their influence on interpreting output quality: a preliminary small-scale study discussion” focuses on affective factors which condition interpreting performance, that is stress and anxiety. The author reports on a study that explores students’ performance during an interpreting test. The results are discussed with regard to the effect of stress on the quality of the students’ performance and contrasted with their own comments and self-assessment.

In the contribution “Teaching translation and interpreting to students with vision impairments” that follows Wojciech Figiel takes up the notion of accessibility. Rather than focusing on the receptors of target texts, however, he uses ← 8 | 9 → semi-structured interviews to investigate how accessible translation and interpreting professions are for vision-impaired students and how to adapt training to meet their needs. This paper closes the section on interpreter training, and the remaining articles revolve around translation classroom practice.

In her article “Using verbal protocols for translator training purposes” Paulina Pietrzak adapts a process-oriented approach and advocates the application of verbal protocols in translator training. She discusses various ways in which such practices can prove useful in the translation classroom and reports on a study that shows certain inconsistencies in the amount of attention that trainees and professional translators pay to some aspects of translation.

In the paper “Expert web searching skills for translators – a multiple-case study” Urszula Paradowska looks into student Web search behaviour. More specifically, she combines qualitative and quantitative methods to see how the speed and accuracy of trainee Web searching skills are influenced by a four-month long intervention meant to offer both theoretical and practical insights.

Magdalena Kopczyńska’s contribution “Teaching business translation. How to address students’ needs and help them master the economic jargon” offers a similarly student-oriented perspective. The author makes an attempt at testing several theoretical assumptions against the practice of translation training and then she reports on the questionnaire in which these are students who assess teachers. The results show the student perspective on methods and materials used during a course and the extent to which the course met their needs.

The paper “Translation problems for translation trainees” by Janusz Wróblewski identifies and defines a variety of linguistic and cultural problems worth discussing in the translation classroom. The author provides detailed examples and offers an approach to developing translation competence through confronting translation students with texts that are fraught with a variety of linguistic and cultural problems.

Michał Kornacki’s paper “The ‘making of’ a translator – a functional approach to translator training” frames the written translation course as aimed at satisfying the most vital needs of a contemporary translator entering the labour market. Drawing on his own experience, the author highlights facets of ­competence that might not always make it into a course syllabus, such as quoting and text editing.

With the range of perspectives and didactic settings outlined in the papers, we intend to stimulate discussion on ways of further fine-tuning translator training. We hope that the accounts of challenges currently encountered in the process of competence-building as well as postulates of change will contribute to research in translation education. Notably, it is now a fast growing area of scientific inquiry, and although it still lacks formal status and is heavily constrained, its primary ← 9 | 10 → concern remains unchanged. It is the translation trainee who captures all the attention and makes the teachers explore and improve their methods and tools. Accordingly, it is the translation trainee who captures the essence of this book.

Paulina Pietrzak & Mikołaj Deckert

Łódź, July 2015

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Theories and perspectives

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Maria Piotrowska

Pedagogical University of Cracow

Revisiting the translator competence in the 21st century

Abstract The article, centred around the phenomenon of the Translator Competence as abstract theoretical concept, as well as terminological and pedagogical issue, starts with a terminological disambiguation of the key terms of competence, translation educator and education target. TC is also viewed historically in the scriptorium environment, and then analysed in Translation Studies contexts with the acknowledgement of a certain inadequacy of the existing TC models for teaching purposes, which, as postulated by Don Kiraly (2014), leads to a move towards pedagogical innovation and implementation of the Emergentist Model in Translation Pedagogy.

1. Introduction

The purpose of this research is to enquire into one of the most important concepts in the Translation Studies (TS), which is Translator Competence (TC), not with an objective of revising it in the strictly prescriptive sense but rather approaching it descriptively via diverse scholarly attitudes to it. Revisiting rather than revising the concept in the 21st century seems to be a justified academic attempt because, after all, it is undoubtedly, the central idea and goal around which translation endeavours, both in their theoretical and practical dimensions, are targeted at.

Revisiting the concept entails its contextualisation, so in order to foreground TC against the TS mental landscape or cognitive map, let us proceed with a terminological disambiguation of the key terms involved.

2. Terminological disambiguation of the key terms

It is a truth universally known that certain concepts in TS are expressed in a multitude of terms. The reasons for the terminological overlap and imprecision, in some cases, may be mis-assumptions; what appears a great innovation sometimes turns out to be an already discovered and verbalised idea, and so the coinage of a new term is pointless. Of course, such extreme instances of terminological problems do not eradicate other viable explanations, as well. As concerns TC, because it has attracted so much scholarly attention over the decades of TS development, ← 13 | 14 → naturally, there appeared certain differences in defining it and discrepancies among particular scholarly views on it.

Among various perspectives on competence there are several worth consideration:

Theoretical perspective – TC is an abstract TS notion.

Evaluative and applied perspective – TC liaisons with the target text quality evaluation (traditional translation error analysis).

Psychological analysis – TC is analysed in the translation process.

Pedagogical perspective – TC is viewed in the context of translator training (student competence is aligned with professional competence).

This study is initially concerned with the terminological issues, secondly with theoretical, and subsequently, pedagogical considerations. We might wonder, at first, whether TC is an old hat or a new umbrella term in the context of TS. Because of numerous and extensive discussions of it in the subject literature, it may appear that it has already exhausted its scholarly potential. On the other hand, TC as the core of those debates undergoes the process of constant evolvement and change as it responds to the paradigmatic and epistemological changes within TS itself. Thus, in constructing the complex and multi-faceted term of TC, it may help to dissolve terminological ambiguities by clarifying the fundamental components: the competence agents and the process pertaining to it. As concerns the latter, several designations are used with marked differences between them:


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (November)
teaching translator training competence
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 296 pp.

Biographical notes

Paulina Pietrzak (Volume editor) Mikołaj Deckert (Volume editor)

Paulina Pietrzak is Assistant Professor at the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Łódź. She specialises in teaching LGP and LSP translation and interpreting. Her main research interests include translator training and specialised languages. Mikołaj Deckert is Assistant Professor at the Department of Translation Studies, University of Łódź. His research is mainly in translation, language and cognition as well as media discourse.


Title: Constructing Translation Competence
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