"Are those who know and those who do not know the same?" —Arabic calligraphy by Turkish Grand Master Calligrapher Hamed Al Amidi (1891-1982).
Translation as a Decision Making Process under Constraints
Translation may be regarded as a response to a problem of communication usually between two language-bound cultural entities. The act itself is a multi-dimensional and multi-layered process involving in one consensual domain problem solving and decision making.
This thesis tests the hypothesis that translation is a decision making process under constraints. It argues that translation is a decision-making process within a communication framework of problem-solving, taking place under constraints imposed by internal and external factors. It discusses the interplay between all three phenomena: decision making, communication and translation and considers translation part of a larger communication problem and interlingual communication as a translation-mediated solution that comprises decision making.
Within an overall framework of communication, translation may be regarded as a problem-solving process that involves a wide spectrum of decisions producing a translation-mediated solution to a communication problem. In cross-cultural communication, the absence of a Translation Interface to convert information from one language system to another presents an obstacle that can largely be readily surmounted by translation mediation. With such mediation or interface in place, the communication event is extended to encompass another communication system that has its own set of signs, protocols, codes and conventions. The interaction between the two systems imposes constraints on the communication process and limits the degree of translatability. This process can be viewed within a rhetorical communication model of translation. The model assumes that all translation is rhetorical (intentional) communication, since no translation is produced except with the intention of communicating the message of the original in another language.
The thesis further examines some of the constraints under which the translation decision making process operates and develops a model for managing such constraints. It discusses the act of translating within the context of the translation event and makes a clear distinction between process, procedure and the actual act of translating, thus separating the act of translating from the external mechanics of the translation event itself. The thesis identifies types of translation decisions and differentiates between legitimate translatorial intervention that is dictated by the limits of translatability and the nature of the translation process and illegitimate translatorial interference — motivated or otherwise — that is also dictated by the constraints imposed upon the translator by external and internal factors.
Underlying the translation process is a translation strategy or configuration of strategies that provide the framework for making translation decisions. The ultimate goal of any translation strategy is to enable the translator to identify, manage and remove the constraints in order to unlock possible alternatives to ensure optimal approximation.
This thesis focuses on decision making under the condition of uncertainty. It makes certain assumptions about translation decision making under this condition, which are further explored and tested empirically by examining the cognitive strategies that translators employ in making translation decisions while translating a written text under the condition of uncertainty. The method of investigation utilizes the think-aloud protocols (TAPs).
Examining the problem of translation decision making under the condition of uncertainty has implications for the act of translating as a communication problem solution in the wider context of translation provision and for the teaching of translation in the classroom. Translators must be able to examine their translations in the presence of constraints and must be able to make informed decisions about their choices in order to achieve optimal approximation of the translation product to the original text.
Uncertainty in translation seems to offer a fertile ground for observing and analyzing translation decision making since both aspects of the cognitive process, comprehension and production hinge on the extent of certainty of information required to produce a piece of translation. Without an adequate level of certainty, the translator will always flounder in a morass of doubt and misgivings.
Consistent with these theoretical explorations, the empirical investigation corroborates the theoretical discussion by utilizing the think aloud protocols (TAPs) in a controlled setting yielding qualitative raw data in the form of introspective verbal reports. The findings of the empirical investigation offer corroborative evidence of the dynamic relationship between the level of uncertainty and the degree of expediency of the translation decisions.
The ideas in this doctoral thesis were developed during the research period 1993 - 1997.
The Problem of Terminology in Translating into Arabic
With a special reference to computer terminology
The transfer of technology to the Arab world and the profusion of information via faster means of communication bringing the Arab peoples closer together than ever before have created a major linguistic problem: terminology.
This dissertation investigates the problem of terminology in translating into Arabic with a special reference to computer terminology. It analyzes a few aspects of the problem and examines some of the difficulties this problem creates for translators in the transfer of technical and scientific information into Arabic. It proposes a new approach to terminology based on the transfer of phonological and semantic properties.