Corps de l’article

This book is for translator trainees to develop general and specialised competences for translation from English (L2) to Spanish (L1). A literal translation of the title is ‘A Methodology of Direct Translation from English to Spanish’ and its purpose is to give students a method with which to approach any kind of translation brief. Translator trainers working from English into other languages may also find inspiration for programming courses, teaching units and tasks, as well as a wide variety of source texts covering genres in different fields and modalities of translation. Published in 2012, it is already being used in several translation academic faculties in Spain and has been tested for several years at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) where the author, Mariana Orozco-Jutorán has been teaching translation since 1996. In the introduction she acknowledges special debt to Amparo Hurtado Albir for introducing her to translator training and a translation-task-based approach.

This is a practical manual in which translation theory is taught implicitly. Students can come to their own conclusions about translation, learning inductively through a series of tasks that make them think and reach systematic solutions. Emphasis is put on the translation process, identifying problems and strategies for solving them within a specific translation brief. There are no ready-made solutions as students are encouraged to develop their own potential and processes in accordance with their own experience, knowledge and skills. Although the book is solidly based on recent theoretical approaches in translation studies, linguistics, information and communication technologies, documentation and terminology, these approaches are implicit in the different teaching units and specific theories and authors are not mentioned.

The teaching methodology follows the guidelines recommended by the European Higher Education Area to develop transversal and specific competencies. A task-based approach is used to promote the acquisition of translation competence, including all the different sub-competences. Once again, this underlying structure is implicit and the author avoids using the jargon that so often makes these guidelines so opaque to outsiders. However, each teaching unit also has a final section called ‘Reflections’ that summarises the main concepts addressed in the unit.

The seventeen teaching units are organised in two main sections: non-specialised translation (Units 1-13) and introduction to specialised translation (Units 14-17). The first section starts with a diagnostic evaluation task in Unit 1 and ends with a self-evaluation task in Unit 17. The author’s approach to translator training and evaluation is based on her research to develop measuring instruments for translation competence acquisition: “(i) to measure notions about translation, (ii) to measure students’ behaviour when faced with translation problems, and (iii) to measure errors” (Orozco and Hurtado-Albir 2002). The diagnostic tool used in Unit 1 was extensively tested by the author and validated by teachers in other translation faculties. The test is made up of three parts: (i) a questionnaire on general translation concepts; (ii) a translation; (iii) a questionnaire on the translation in the format of a guided retrospective TAP. The self-evaluation task in the last unit is one of many formative evaluation activities in the book. In Unit 17, students are asked to revisit and reflect on their answers to the first part of the diagnostic questionnaire.

The objective of the tasks in Units 2 to 4 is to start students thinking about some basic translation concepts, such as translation as a communication act, as a cognitive process, equivalence, the translation unit. Teachers often avoid using textbooks in translation classes because the texts are out-of-date. In this book, the texts are well selected to illustrate the objectives of each task, provoke debate and reflect the realities of the translation profession, but they are also selected to age well. Even the two texts on machine translation and human translation, dated 2003 and 2010 (p.15-19), remain relevant in 2013 and can easily be followed up or replaced by a more recent text of the same genre.

The tasks in Unit 5 take the students through all the steps in the translation process, from the translation initiator to the revision of the target text. It includes useful models or checklists: to analyse source and target texts; to identify problems at different stages of the process; to discover strategies for solving translation problems; to revise the translation. The following units (6-12) focus on different aspects of the process: comprehension, documentation, contrastive rhetoric, the language of the translation, translation methods, cultural contrasts, new technologies, etc.

The next three units (14-16) provide an introduction to specialised translation: the process, planning documentation, techniques for specialised terminology. The twelve specialised texts worked on in these units include localisation, economic, technical, medical and legal genres. These texts and tasks show the author’s experience as a professional translator in these fields. The tasks related to legal translation reflect the author’s research in this field and, in particular, documentation for legal translators (Orozco and Sánchez-Gijón, 2011).

This is a book with solid foundations in teaching and research experience, enlivened by the author’s creativity and capacity to put herself in the shoes of the learner.