Translation competence

Translation competence

1) translator competence (basic principles, kinds and criteria)
2) internal and external knowledge in translation competence
3) the primary characteristics of a good translator
4) aspects of translator reliability
5) prevailing pedagogical assumptions in translator training

In translation studies the qualities of a good translator are based on the concept of translator competence. Originally competence stands for the quality of possessing a skill, knowledge or qualification.
Since translation involves not only different languages but also different cultural backgrounds, the performance of a good translator is very dependent on a given tie and place. Translation competence is normally understood as some type of underlying knowledge and extraordinary skill beyond purely linguistic skills involved in translations.

The institute of linguistics in UK sets the following criteria for assessing translations: 

1) accuracy – the correct transfer of information and evidence of complete comprehension
2) the appropriate choice of vocabulary idioms, terminology and register
3) cohesion, coherence and organization
4) accuracy in technical aspects of punctuation

There are also several additional points in particular interests concerning the UNESCO criteria. UNESCO document makes allowance for the target text readers, who are sometimes non-native speakers of the target language.

The style of article translation for periodicals should be readable , while politically sensitive speakers require a very close translation to avoid being misinterpreted. The translator must understand the original meaning, know both the SL and TL, avoid literal translations, use idiomatic forms of the target language, produce the appropriate tone through a careful selection and arrangement of words.

The translation should give a complete transcript of the ideas of the original, be of the same character with that of the original and have all ease of the original composition, include realia, words and phrases that are heavily grounded in one culture and are almost impossible to translate.

Translator should possess 

– a knowledge base, which contain the combined knowledge and expertise of the domain
– an inference mechanism that is software that can use the knowledge base to make inferences about the info contained. A knowledge base consists of SL knowledge, TL knowledge, text type knowledge, domain knowledge, contrastive knowledge of each of the above.

An inference mechanism permits the decoding of text and the encoding of texts.

Kinds of competences:

1) grammatical competence – knowledge of the rules of the language including vocabulary and word formation, pronunciation, spelling and semantic structure.
2) socio-linguistic competence – the knowledge of an ability to produce and understand utterances appropriately in context.
3) discourse competence – the ability to combine form and meaning to achieve unified, spoken or written text in different genres. This unity depends on cohesion in form and coherence in meaning
4) strategic competence – the mastery of communication strategies, which may be used to improve communication.

Translation for the professional purpose is a constant learning circle that moves through the stages of instinct, experience and habit, and within expense through the stages of abduction, induction, deduction.
Experience is an engagement with the real world.

Habit is a promptitude in action.
Abduction is guess work.
Induction is pattern building.

Deduction is theoretical teaching training based on rules, laws, theories.

Kinn’s competence model represents various levels of input for professional competence. It ranges from those that are based on inborn abilities to a person’s live history (knowledge and experience), to more interpersonal and socially related levels (contracts, values).

Translation users need to be able to rely on translations and thus need to be able to trust the translator. There are several aspects of translation

Textual reliability; types of textual reliability:

– Liberalism (the translation follows the original word for word or as close as possible)
– foreignism – the translator reads fairly fluently but has a slightly abundance, one can tell reading it that it’s a translation, not an original.
– fluency – the translation is readable for the target language reader and seems like an original in the TL. – summary – the translation covers the main points of the original
– commentary – the translation unfolds the hidden complexities of the original, exploring amplifications that remain unstated or half-stated in the original.
– summary-commentary – the translation summaries some passages briefly, while commenting closely on others.
– adaptation – the translator remarks the original to have desired impact on audience, the translation is substantially different from the original.
– inscription – the translator remarks the original so as to hide its meaning from one group, whole still making accessible to another group, which possess the key.

Translator’s realiability with regard to text:

– attention to details
– sensitivity to the user’s needs
– research and checking
– reliability with regard to the client: versatility – the range of interests is huge and translator must be able to translate everything; realistic promises as to delivery dates; friendliness and confidenciality.
– with regard to technology: hardware, software.

Translator must also be timely in the sense of not arriving past the time.

Prevailing pedagogical assumption:

1) there is no substitute for practical experience
2) there are some ways of accelerating the process of translation
3) careful analysis should be done. This analysis is based on the following principles:
– never assume you understand the source text perfectly
– always analyze source text type, genre, register, syntax, semantics, making sure you know in detail what it is saying, not saying or implying.
– always analyze pragmatic relationship between the source text and target text, so that you know what each language is capable and incapable of saying.
– always consider the special nature and needs of target audience
– professional involvement means socializing with different spheres, which will give you a strong sense that you are a professional.