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The Role of Pedagogical Translation in Second Language Acquisition

From Theory to Practice

Vanessa Leonardi

Translation can help improve foreign language teaching and learning – this study shows how. In an increasingly globalised world and in an increasingly multilingual Europe, translation plays an important role. Significant signs of a new revival of translation in language teaching have become visible, as shown by recent literature on applied linguistics. This book contributes to this movement, embracing both a theoretical and an empirical purpose by integrating viewpoints from Applied Linguistics, Translation Studies and Second Language Acquisition.
In an attempt to show how the use of translation in foreign language classes can help enhance and further improve reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, this work calls for a re-evaluation and a rehabilitation of the translation activities in the foreign language classes.


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3. Pedagogical Translation 65


65 3 Pedagogical Translation 3.1 What is translation? As acknowledged by Chesterman (2005: 3), the term ‘translate’ has Latin and Classical Greek roots and its basic meaning is that of carrying something across, from Latin transferre or Greek metapherein. Trans- lation is communication or, more precisely, a form of cross-cultural communication. It is very hard and challenging to provide an exact definition of ‘translation’ as there are as many definitions as theories and publications. Therefore, what seems to be an apparently straightforward concept to define, it is a rather complex one. All too often, translation tends to be seen as a merely mechanic (linguistic) activity aimed at replacing lexical and morpho-syntactic elements from one language to another. In this respect, for instance, the MacMillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2007: 1593) defines translation as ‘the activity of changing spoken or written words into a different language’. This could seem to be a very simplistic way to define the concept of trans- lation but, throughout the history of translation, there have been a wide variety of approaches that favoured the linguistic side of the activity without acknowledging any extra-linguistic factor. For instance, Catford (1965: 20) claimed that translation involves ‘the replacement of textual material in one language (SL) by equivalent textual material in another language (TL)’. Translation, however, is a much more elaborated activity which entails linguistic and cultural knowledge of both languages involved. Throughout the years there have been many attempts to provide a commonly accepted definition of ‘translation’...

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