University of Edinburgh

Signing SQA Exams

Presented on Wednesday 3 February 2010

Introducing Translation

Rachel O'Neill

What is translation?

  • The process of moving from a source text to a target text
  • The exam paper and the BSL video version
  • The student's video answers and the written English version

What does the translator do?

1. Analyses the source text:

  • Degree of formality
  • Cohesion (how text is organised)
  • Thematic structure (information organisation)
  • Cultural references from source culture
  • Use of idiom, ambiguity, double meanings
  • Possible reason the author made particular vocabulary and grammar choices

2. Understands the text in its cultural context (pragmatics)

  • Real meaning of the text in its cultural context
  • How the audiences for the text are likely to understand it (Hatim & Mason, 1997)

3. Restructures the meaning in the other language

  • Doesn't focus on the surface structure or individual words
  • Tries to give the target text the same communicative intent (Davis, 2000)
  • Takes account of the systematic differences between the languages

A good translator has...

  • Complete comprehension of the source text
  • Complete command of the subject matter and technical terms

  • Good cohesion and information structure
  • Native-like use of collocation patterns in target language (the way words / signs cluster together in familiar patterns)
  • Complete accuracy - no grammar or spelling mistakes
  • A clear relationship with the formatting of the source text

Can anyone do translation?

  • Fluency in both languages
  • Deep knowledge of both cultures
  • Often translators work into their first or stronger language
  • ⪚ a deaf translator may work from written English to BSL (Collins & Wilson, 2006)

Implications for translating exams

Centrally produced DVD in BSL made by a deaf translator?

A BSL / English interpreter to translate BSL to written English?

Implications for deaf pupils

  • They may often not be fluent in BSL
  • Why?
  • If not, then their use of BSL should have started long before the exam year
  • If they use SSE, do we need a transliteration from English to SSE?

Further reading

Collins, J & Wilson, J (2006) The role of the Deaf interpreter, In: Locker McKee, R (ed) Proceedings of the inaugural conference of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters. Trowbridge: Cromwell Press

Davis, J (2000) Chapter 9 in: Roy, C (ed) Innovative practices for teaching sign language interpreters. Washington: Gallaudet University Press

Hatim, B & Mason, I (1997) The translator as communicator. London: Routledge&