Exploring the Perception of Translation Educators about the Need for Teaching Translation Theories to Undergraduate Students of Translation Studies

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 MA in TEFL, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Zand Institute of Higher Education, Shiraz, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of TEFL, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Zand Institute of Higher Education, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

This study aimed to explore the perception of translation educators about the need of teaching translation theories to undergraduate students of translation studies. BA Translation courses at Iranian Universities are generally practice–based. So, they lack meaningful teaching of translation theories and concepts. To this end, the researcher selected 62 translation teachers from seven universities of Iran based on their major and the study’s purpose. This study followed a quantitative design. The participants filled out an online questionnaire sent to them by email. The researcher designed the questionnaire based on the related literature review. The reliability of items was checked with Cronbach's Alpha. The result was 0.849, which shows the high consistency of questionnaire items. The face and content validity of the questionnaire was checked by two experts in the field. The questionnaire contained two main parts. One part included ten items on the implications of translation theories. The other part was designed for any general comments the professionals would like to add about each item. The findings indicated that most translator trainers have a generally positive attitude toward teaching translation theories. This study can be of great use for translators, those who work in the field, those who teach it, and those who study it.

Keywords

1. Introduction

The undergraduate English significant programs in Iranian universities include practical translation courses as a core component. In most translation classes, the "read and translate" strategy (Davies2004) is the most common event. Translation is not an easy task, especially when it involves sociolinguistic issues, where not only linguistic features are of importance but cultural aspects of the target text are equally essential. Consequently, educators must take careful consideration and spend enough time to train their students to become successful in their field of study. 

      In recent years, with the continuous explosion of information and technology, the significant advance of translation tools and translation machines have made it possible for almost everyone to translate, even those who do not have academic knowledge of translation. Therefore, there is a great need in our society to train competent translators who are familiar with theories of translation and have the knowledge of translation. In other words, we need to equip students at an academic level with theories of translation. To this end, reinforcement of the current curriculum of the BA translation program is of great importance. Despite the ever-changing technology and information in every part of science, translation programs at the BA level in Iran have not changed over the past three decades. Still, the focus on practice in the current curriculum outweighs theory. Theory and practice in translation are complementary, while many teachers ignore the theoretical side of the coin in their translation training classes.

Therefore, training competent translators who can fulfill the market needs requires an update in the translation curriculum at the BA level. This case study aimed to identify the translator trainers' attitude at Iranian universities about translation theories and their role in practical translation. In general, the researcher intended to make some suggestions for the improvement of the current BA translation programs at universities in Iran based on the findings of the study. Based on the objectives of the study, the following research questions are formed:

  1. What are the translation educators’ perceptions about the implications of translation theories?
  2. What do translation teachers suggest for improving the current BA program of translation studies in Iran?

This study aims to investigate the necessity of teaching translation theories to BA translation students in Iranian universities. Even with the pedagogically-acceptable translation curriculum both in Iran and worldwide, translator trainees’ achievement has always been a concern in Iran. Despite the Iranian Ministry of Higher Education providing translator trainees with curricula and course syllabi based on specified objectives, there are still problems such as the concurrency of translation teaching and language teaching, practices in translation from Persian into a foreign language, lack of teacher specialization, and vagueness of the curriculum and syllabi (Mirzaibrahim2003).

2. Literature Review

2.1 Translation Training

Translation teaching is not a fixed process. Changing market conditions demand the use of new techniques and the implementation of new technologies to satisfy student expectations in terms of course quality. The following section discusses the main differences between a regular and online classroom with regard to the interfaces used by both teachers and students. The idea is that current changes to the mode of teaching and learning are not revolutionary, but rather evolutionary in nature. 

Discussion of changes in the translation classroom must be contextualized with reference to the purpose of learning. The two main categories to be listed here, as indicated, for example, by Willigen-Sinemus (1988) and Dominic Stewart (2008), are: a) translation as “a didactic means in foreign-language teaching” (Pym 1993, p. 73; see also Gile 1995); and b) translation as an independent discipline that is not only studied but also used as a ‘tool’ to train translators (see, for example, Pym 2000a; and volumes edited by Malmkjær and Windle 2011Venuti, 2017; or Laviosa and González-Davies 2020). The present paper focuses on the latter. The traditional translation classroom used to be characterized as centered on the teacher who transmits knowledge to passive learners with the focus on the product, not the process (see Colina2003). Such approaches have been criticized by many scholars over the years (e.g., Kiraly 19952000Stewart 2008Pym 2000Klimkowski 2015).

Translation courses are not uncommon, so teaching translation is certainly necessary. This question is in the area of pedagogical methods that teachers can teach their students. Snell-Hornby (cited in 1988, p. 105, Claramonte, 1994) defines two aspects of translation education as follows: 

 Translation education has been hampered by what can only be defined as a large gap between translation theory and practice. However, students are dissatisfied with theoretical considerations (both translation theory and general linguistics) that have nothing to do with translation activities in their opinion. Scholars, on the other hand, severely criticize translators who do not want to ascertain the rationale for their work, thereby reducing it to "purely practical skills." 

 From the passage above, it is clear that when teaching translation, the practical side is preferred to the theory. This claim consistently agrees with William Weaver, the translator of the Name of the Rose, who scholars in the field of translation (Claramonte, 1994 and Gerding-Salas, 2000) claimed that the translation was a translation she had learned. It is supported by the fact that it is. As a result, many scholars who teach translation have focused on translation techniques or processes. The article "Teaching Translation: Problems and Solutions" by Claramonte (1994) recommends that translation teachers need to teach students to read and understand the original message in addition to interpreting.  

 When teaching translation, this article also recommends that teachers choose the right text for their students based on difficulty and translation goals. Canning (2004) proposed various strategies for teaching translation. The first strategy is for the translation teacher to use an oral activity that lets the student translate the message out loud. The second proposal is group work. Some students don't like group work in translation classes, but it's still the recommended method. However, Canning suggested that students would need to switch groups when taking a new translation class. Another educational strategy recommended by Canning was the use of technology. Gile (2015) presented another way to allow students to analyze their friends' work using translation evaluation exercises. 

 Zainudin and Awal (2012) studied translation education through collaborative learning. They asked the students to do translation work in two environments: group work and individual work. Her research focused on finding a suitable environment for students to teach translation. The results show that the majority of students chose to work alone rather than in groups. Nevertheless, the results showed that students like to discuss their mistakes and mistakes with their friends about their translated work. This was an activity that the students enjoyed, so I suggested to the students that discussing the work of their peers in class would be useful for translation lessons.

An article edited by Zralka (2007) provided four teachers' advice on translation courses. The first advice was "criteria for pre-translated text". In other words, teachers need to teach students to be aware of what text they are dealing with so that they can use the appropriate translation methods. The second piece of advice was "Analyzing Parallel Text as a Source of Information on Parallel Text Patterns and Common Functions." This tip specifically deals with studying a contrasting analysis between the linguistic asp an article edited by Zralka (2007) provided four teachers' advice on translation courses. The first advice was "criteria for pre-translated text". In other words, teachers need to teach students to be aware of what text they are dealing with so that they can use the appropriate translation methods. The second piece of advice was "Analyzing Parallel Text as a Source of Information on Parallel Text Patterns and Common Functions." This tip specifically deals with studying a contrasting analysis between the linguistic aspects of the source and target languages that teachers need to teach their students. The third piece of advice was "methodological guidelines for translating official documents as a kind of differentiated text." This advice is most relevant to current study as it deals with the topic of translation studies. For this third piece of advice, Zralka suggested that teacher should teach students the equivalence presented by Nida. However, it's interesting that this article doesn't prioritize translation, as the author states in the third piece of advice. Rather, the author recognizes that determining the type of text and communicating linguistic features is more important than communicating translation theory. The final piece of advice was "A Teacher's Guide for Students on Choosing the Best Translation". This advice mainly encourages teachers to choose the right vocabulary, register the source text, and pay attention to the reform of the source text. Another important aspect of translation education is the assessment of translation quality. 

House (2015) is for assessing the quality of translation work, including psychosocial approaches (mainly based on emotions and impressions) and response-based approaches (based on equivalent responses similar to formal dynamic equivalence). I have presented several methods. Nida's concept). Despite their existence, these methods are not new, but the main translation theories and concepts mentioned in the previous section. 

Determining whether a translation is good or bad depends entirely on the purpose or purpose of the translation (academic, commercial, legal, etc.). Therefore, when teaching translation, translation studies teachers need to set appropriate goals to assess the quality of the translation work they have created. As Farahzad (2011) claims, language grows and develops like humans. Like language, people need interaction and communication. This interaction is achieved through translation. The importance of translation is further explained when considering the new world of information sharing and globalization. Over the last few decades, "translation studies" has established itself as a new and clear field that requires its theory, techniques, principles, and approaches. However, due to the nature of the translation, this fact was not yet widely known, especially in my country (Iran).

As Farahzad (2011) claims, language grows and develops like humans. Like language, people need interaction and communication. This interaction is achieved through translation. The importance of translation is further explained when considering the new world of information sharing and globalization. Over the last few decades, "translation studies" has established itself as a new and clear field that requires its theory, techniques, principles, and approaches. However, due to the nature of the translation, this fact was not yet widely known, especially in my country (Iran). Davies (2004) argues that the "read and translate" policy for teaching translation is probably just as old and unproductive.

Razmjou (2001) argues that, curriculum renewal is an oncoming process in educational planning. It offers educators and curriculum developers the opportunity to incorporate new visions and expectations in academic programs in such a way that the graduate students of such programs become functional in the jobs available to them. One of the main areas in language teaching and learning in our universities is that of translation. Many scholars have been active in creating a suitable curriculum for a BA program in translation that is being practiced in some Iranian universities including both state and Islamic Azad universities. The graduates of BA program in translation have assumed a variety of careers. Many of them have continued their studies toward higher degrees albeit not necessarily in translation. Others have entered the publishing market, and have profited from their expertise, and have shown to be successful. Still, others have fulfilled jobs that do not directly require a translation degree.

2.2 Current BA Program in Translation at Iranian Universities

Currently, a four-year BA program in translation is being thought at some of the Iranian state and Islamic Azad universities. Students of translation studies have to pass an overall 132 credits to achieve a BA degree in translation. The course credits can mainly be divided into three areas, namely, general courses, language proficiency courses, and major courses in translation. Table 2.2 shows the pattern of the course credits in the BA curriculum of translation in Iranian universities. The general courses contain the Persian language, Islamic texts and culture, and physical education.  Proficiency courses carry instruction relevant to the skills (listening, reading, speaking, and writing) and elements (phonology, grammar, and vocabulary) of English language, along with some course in English literature and linguistic. Table 2.3 indicates the title and course credits of the main courses in BA translation curriculum.

Table 1

Distributions of Course Credits in BA Translation Curriculum

 

Major

Proficiency

General

Type of course

50

58

24

credit

  

Table 2

Major Course Credits in BA Translation Curriculum

Course Title

No. of
 Credits

    Course Title

No. of
 Credits

Translation Techniques

2

Interpreting 1

2

Translating Simple Texts

2

Interpreting 2

2

Translating Journalistic Texts 1

2

Interpreting 3

2

Translating Journalistic Texts 2

2

Advanced Translation 1

2

Translating Political Texts

2

Advanced Translation 2

2

Translating Economic Texts

2

Individual Translation 1

2

Translating Documentation & Official Writing 1

2

Individual Translation 2

2

Translating Documentation & Official Writing 2

2

A Survey of Islamic Translated Texts 1

2

Translating Audio & Video Tapes

2

A Survey of Islamic Translated Texts 2

2

Persian Writing

2

Contrastive Linguistics

2

Persian Language Structure

2

Theories & Principles of Translation

2

Modern Persian Literature

2

English Morphology

2

Translating Literary Texts

2

   

As you can see in table number one, the courses mainly emphasize the practice of translation in various genres, and the theoretical scope or the thought behind translation studies is generally omitted. It is seen in the above table that the great focus of courses is on the practice of translation, and little attention is given to the theoretical side of the coin. Therefore, it is a crucial issue to be taken into account by the curriculum designers of the English teaching program.

2.3 The Role of Theories

Scholars and trainers occasionally suppose that a translator who knows about different theories will do better than one who knows nothing about them (Pym2000). Some awareness of different theories might be of practical use when confronting problems with no fixed solutions, where significant creativity is needed. The theories can pose productive questions, and sometimes suggest successful answers. Theories can also be important agents of change, mostly when moved from one professional culture to another, or when they are made to challenge endemic thought (think about the Sanskrit idea of translation as “saying later”).  (Pym2000). Moreover, general theories can raise awareness of the complexities of translation, thus improving the public image of translators and interpreters. Awareness of several theories can improve the translation profession in different ways.

When arguments occur, theories provide translators with valuable tools not just to defend their positions but also to find out about other positions (Pym2000). The theories might simply name things that people had not thought about earlier. Some knowledge of different theories can also be of direct assistance in the translation process itself. Theories can provide a range of reasons for choosing one solution and discarding the rest, as well as defending that solution when necessary.

Many theories are perfect for the generative side, since they criticize the more apparent options and consider a broader range of factors. Descriptive, deconstructionist, and cultural-translation approaches might all fit the bill there. Other kinds of theory are needed for the selective moment of translating, when decisions must be made between the available alternatives. That is where reflections of ethics, on the primary purposes of translation, could give guidelines. Unfortunately, that second kind of theory, which should give reasons for selective decisions, has become unfashionable in some circles. That is why we indulge in plurality, to try to redress the balance (Pym2000).

3. Methodology

3.1 Participants of the Study

The participants of this study are 62 EFL university teachers from public and private universities of Iran, which present translation studies. This population included 38 women and 24 men, 61.3% female and 38.7 %, male. These are EFL university professors from Zand-e-Shiraz Institute of Higher Education, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, University of Tehran, Univaresity of Shahid Bahonar Kerman, University of Jahrom, University of Shahid Madani, and the University of Isfahan. All the participants were English-major proffessors teaching translation courses to undergraduate students. Unfortunately, since the instructors were very busy, few agreed to participate, although the questionnaire was sent to 200 instructors. The participants were between 25 to 69 years of age with a minimum of one year and a maximum of fifteen years of experience. Also, the average age of the respondents was 38 years and the highest frequency of respondents is 30 years old.

3.2 Data Collection Instrument

The instrument utilized in this study was a questionnaire designed by the researcher and developed by Porsal, an online survey maker software, to be made electronically fillable. The validity of the questionnaire was examined by two experts in the field before being sent to the participants. The reliability of items was checked with Cronbach's Alpha. The result was 0.849, which shows the high consistency of questionnaire items. It contained two main parts. One part included ten items on the implications of translation theories. The other part was designed for any general comments the professionals would like to add about each item. The comments of professionals were analyzed using SPSS software version 25.0. The collected data were quantified by assigning numerical values.

3.3 Data Analysis Procedure

Data analysis of the study was done using the SPSS software version 25. To begin this process, descriptive statistics including frequency, age, mean and standard deviation were used.  Descriptive statistics were used to calculate the frequency and percentage of the respondents’ degree of agreement for the first question of the study. Moreover, to answer the second question of the study, percentage, and frequency of the professors’ comments on the questionnaire were performed using SPSS software. Since there were no priority in comments, the collected data were quantified by assigning numerical values. Then the codes were put in SPSS software for further analysis. The descriptive statistics provided the researcher with absolute numbers and tables. This helped the researcher summarize the individual variables, and find patterns. The next chapter will give the results. 

4. Results

4.1 Translation Educators’ Perceptions about the Implications of Translation Theories

In this part, the degree of translation professors’ agreement with items of the questionnaire will be stated

Table 3 

Frequency Distribution of the Degree of Agreement of Translation Professors with Items of the Questionnaire

 

 

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Undecided

Agree

Strongly Agree

Total

Mean

 

Frequency

(Percent)

Frequency

(Percent)

Frequency

(Percent)

Frequency

(Percent)

Frequency

(Percent)

Frequency

(Percent)

 

 

1. Theory and practice are interdependent on one another.

2(3.2%)

3(4.8%)

3(4.8%)

33(53.2%)

21(33.9%)

62(100%)

4.10

2. Translation theories help students to write culturally appropriate translations.

0 (0.0%)

5(8.1%)

5(8.1%)

37(59.7%)

15(24.2%)

62(100%)

4.0

3. Theory helps students express the quality of their translation.

0(0.0%)

3(4.8%)

13(21%)

30(48.4%)

16(25.8%)

62(100%)

3.95

4. A translator with having studied translation theory has an incredible arsenal of problem-solving techniques.

1(1.6%)

2(3.2%)

11(17.7%)

36(58.1%)

12(19.4%)

62(100%)

3.90

5. Students need theoretical knowledge of translation to defend the result of their translated works.

0(0.0%)

2(3.2%)

4(6.5%)

40(64.5%)

16(25.8%)

62(100%)

4.13

6. Theory helps students analyze and interpret a source text and the context of its production.

0(0.0%)

5(8.1%)

9(14.5%)

34(54.8%)

14(22.6%)

62(100%)

3.92

7. Awareness of theories has practical benefits when confronting problems that require significant creativity.

2(3.2%)

3(4.8%)

7(11.3%)

33(53.2%)

17(27.4%)

62(100%)

3.97

8. Theory encourages students to make conscious decisions in the process of translation.

0(0.0%)

3(4.8%)

12(19.4%)

31(50%)

16(25.8%)

62(100%)

3.97

9. Translation theories contribute to better quality translated works.

2(3.2%)

3(4.8%)

10(16.1%)

31(50%)

16(25.8%)

62(100%)

3.90

10. The generative side of translation needs translation theories.

0(0.0%)

4(6.5%)

8(12.9%)

34(54.8%)

16(25.8%)

62(100%)

4.0

                                 

According to the table above, it can be seen that 53.2% of respondents agree that theory and practice are interdependent, and only 3.2% disagree entirely. Also, only 8.1% disagree, and the majority of respondents, i.e., 83.9%, agree and strongly agree that translation theories help students have a culturally correct translation. Moreover, 74.2% believe that theories help students express the quality of their translation. 77.5% strongly agree that a translator with knowledge of translation theories has excellent power in translation problem-solving techniques. And the majority of respondents, 90.3%, believe that students need translation theories to defend the final result of their translation. 77.4% believed that theories help students analyze the source language text and the final translation. 80.6% agree that translation theories are used when a particular translation problem occurs and requires creativity. Also, 75.8% agree and strongly agree that theories help students to make informed decisions while translating, and have a better-quality translation. 80.6% believe that translation theories help the reproductive part of translation. Therefore, the highest average is related to the importance of translation theories when defending the final result of their translation. In total, it can be said that more than half of the professors agreed with translation theories’ implications. 

4.2 Translation Teachers Suggestions for Improving the Current BA Program of Translation Studies in Iran

In this part translation teachers’ comments on each item of the questionnaire will be stated. The statistical analysis of each item is shown in tables. Above each table the explanations related to that table is provided. Then the results and discussion about the analyses will be illustrated.

4.2.1 Comments from Professors on Item Number One

According to the answers, out of 62 respondents, 20 commented on item number one. Five have stated that a theory course is needed to improve students' performance in practical translation studies courses at BA level. Six respondents consider translation knowledge necessary for translation. 2 strongly agree with this item because they believe that students have to learn the structure of translation to translate better; 4 people have stated that theory and practice in translation should be done in parallel, and both should be given equal importance. Two people consider theory and practice complement each other, and have no meaning without each other. Moreover, one of the professors criticized that no course is defined based on translation theories in the undergraduate course and students lack the necessary knowledge for translation.

Table 4

Professors’ Opinions about “The dependence of theory and practice on each other”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

42

67.7

67.7

67.7

A theory course is needed to improve students' performance in practical courses

5

8.1

8.1

75.8

Translation knowledge is necessary for translation

6

9.7

9.7

85.5

Students have to learn the structure of translation to translate better

2

3.2

3.2

88.7

Theory and practice in translation should be done in parallel, and both should be given equal importance

4

6.5

6.5

95.2

Theory and practice are complementary to each other and have no meaning without each other

2

3.2

3.2

98.4

No course is defined based on translation theories in the undergraduate course, and students lack the necessary knowledge for translation

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.2 Comments from Professors on Item Number Two

According to the findings, out of 62 respondents, 12 have commented on this question, of which four consider theories necessary to translate words related to culture. 2 people believe that some theories have many applications in translating cultural texts. 4 people believe that if the right kind of theory is applied, yes, it is correct. 2 people also think that theory is not related to culture. 

faen1613569724301According to the answers, out of 62 respondents, 20 commented. Of these, 5 have stated that a theory course is needed to improve students' performance in practice courses. 6 respondents consider translation knowledge necessary to perform translation. 2 strongly agree because students have to learn the structure of translation in order to translate better; 4 people have stated that theory and practice in translation should be done in parallel and both should be given equal importance. Two people consider theory and practice to be complementary to each other and have no meaning without each other. And one of the professors criticized that no course is defined based on translation theories in the undergraduate course and students lack the necessary knowledge for translation.fafalsePersianPersian – detected

Table 5

Professors' Opinions on “Translation theories help to translate correctly in terms of culture”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

No comments

50

80.6

80.6

80.6

 

Theories are necessary to translate words related tore culture

4

6.5

6.5

87.1

 

Some theories have many applications in translating cultural texts

2

3.2

3.2

90.3

 

If the right kind of theory is applied, yes, it is right

4

6.5

6.5

96.8

 

Theories have nothing to do with culture.

 

2

3.2

3.2

100.0

 

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

 

                   

4.2.3 Comments from Professors on Item Number Three

The answers show that only seven respondents commented on item number 3; among these respondents, two believe that theory creates awareness in the practice of translation. Moreover, five people have stated that theories make students recognize their translation errors.

Table 6

Professors' Opinions on “Theories help students to express the quality of their translation”.

No comments

55

88.7

88.7

88.7

Theory creates awareness in the practice of translation.

2

3.2

3.2

91.9

Theories make students recognize their translation errors.

 

5

8.1

8.1

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.4 Comments from Professors on Item Number Four

 According to the table above, seven professors believe that theories solve problems for the translator. Two people have stated that theories are not the only solution to translation problems. However, in many other cases they help, and one person also stated that somebody who has studied theories has more knowledge, and one instructor believes that a translator needs to know the theory behind each concept. 

Table 7

Professors' Opinions about “A translator with knowledge of translation theories has a great deal of power in translation problem-solving techniques”

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

51

82.3

82.3

82.3

Theories are not the only solution to translation problems, but in many other cases, they help

2

3.2

3.2

85.5

Someone who has studied theories has more knowledge

1

1.6

1.6

87.1

Theories solve problems for the translator

7

11.3

11.3

98.4

Students need to know the theory behind each concept.

 

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

             

4.2.5 Comments from Professors on Item Number Five

The results of the comments show that out of 4 comments, three believe that students need translation theories to defend the outcome of their translation because they have such knowledge and awareness of translation. Moreover, one person stated that knowledge of theories helps students, because knowing always causes attention.

 Table 8

Professors' Opinions about “Students need translation theories to defend the final result of their translation.”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

58

93.5

93.5

93.5

Students need translation theories to defend the final result because they have such knowledge and awareness of translation.

3

4.8

4.8

98.4

Knowledge of theories helps students, because knowing always causes awareness.

 

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.6 Comments from Professors on Item Number Six

According to the table above, out of the four comments given on this item, two people believe that language ability and language theories are related to each other, so that theories can be helpful in this regard. One person considers the competence of language and not the theory is essential. One person also believes that just knowing the target language is not enough for translation, and knowing theories is also essential.

Table 9

 Professors' Opinions on “Theories help students analyze the source language text and the final translation”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

58

93.5

93.5

93.5

Knowing the target language is not enough for translation and knowing theories is also essential.

1

1.6

1.6

95.2

Language ability and language theories are related to each other, so theories can be helpful in this regard.

2

3.2

3.2

98.4

The competence of language and not the theory is essential.

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.7 Comments from Professors on Item Number Seven

According to the comments given, it can be seen that two people do not consider it enough just to memorize theories, but the translator must understand the theories. One person stated that creativity comes along with the theory of loyalty and one person believes that creating a text that fits and correctly with the target language require the correct use of theories and three people also stated that knowing theories stimulate students' creativity in translation.

Table 10

Professors' Opinions on “The effectiveness of translation theories when a particular translation problem occurs and requires creativity”

 

Frequency

 

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

55

 

88.7

88.7

88.7

It is enough just to memorize theories, but the translator must understand the theories

2

 

3.2

3.2

91.9

Creativity comes along with the theory of loyalty

1

 

1.6

1.6

93.5

Creating a text that fits correctly with the target language requires the correct use of theories

1

 

1.6

1.6

95.2

Knowing theories stimulates students' creativity in translation

3

 

4.8

4.8

100.0

Total

62

 

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.8 Comments from Professors on Item Number Eight

According to the comments provided, two professors believe that students' awareness should be raised and not just language teaching; one person stated that today the only difference is in being a good and better translator and the only thing that distinguishes one translator from the others is the knowledge of translation. One instructor believes that theories arouse students’ motivation in translation, and one instructor stated that a knowledgeable translator would provide a better-quality translation.

Table 11

Professors' Opinions on “Theories help students to make informed decisions while translating”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

57

91.9

91.9

91.9

Today the only difference is in being a good and better translator, and the only thing that distinguishes one translator from the others is the knowledge of translation

1

1.6

1.6

93.5

Students' awareness should be raised and not just language teaching

2

3.2

3.2

96.8

Theories arouse students’ motivation in translation

1

1.6

1.6

98.4

A knowledgeable translator will provide a better-quality translation.

 

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.9 Comments from Professors on Item Number Nine

According to the opinions, three professors believe that because most students do not have enough experience in translation, they should learn translation knowledge. One person stated that we should apply theory training to have better quality translations; one person considers the combination of theory and practice necessary, and one person says that a knowledgeable translator will provide a better-quality translation.

Table 12

Professors' Opinions on “Theories help students to have a better-quality translation”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

56

90.3

90.3

90.3

Because students do not have enough experience in translation at this stage, they should learn translation knowledge

3

4.8

4.8

95.2

We should apply the theory training to have better quality translations

1

1.6

1.6

96.8

The combination of theory and practice necessary

1

1.6

1.6

98.4

A knowledgeable translator will provide a better-quality translation

1

1.6

1.6

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

4.2.10 Comments from Professors on Item Number Ten

According to the table, out of five respondents, two believe that correct theories help the quality of translation. One agrees that a unified theory should be selected for teaching translation. One person believes that theories contribute to the reproductive part of translation, and one person states that theories should be included in the students' curriculum.

Table 13

Professors' Opinions on “Translation theories help the reproductive part of translation”

 

 

Frequency

Percent

Valid Percent

Cumulative Percent

 

No comments

57

91.9

91.9

91.9

A unified theory should be selected for teaching translation.

1

1.6

1.6

93.5

Theories contribute to the reproductive part of a translation

1

1.6

1.6

95.2

Theories should be included in the students' curriculum.

1

1.6

1.6

96.8

Correct theories help the quality of translation

2

3.2

3.2

100.0

Total

62

100.0

100.0

 

5. Discussion

According to the participants’ replies, the findings are in agreement with other scholars’ beliefs, including Newmark, Catford, and Pym. The instructors also agree that theory and practice in translation should be done in parallel and both should be given equal importance. These findings can be added to the previous ones, such as Sun (2002), and Newmark (1988), who claim that practical knowledge or theory does not work alone and must be put together. They also disagree with Hurtado Albir (1996), who thinks translation needs operative knowledge acquired by practice, or Sperber, and Wilson (1995), who believe translation does not require a separate theory. Instructors at Iranian universities mostly agree with the necessity of pointing out relevant translation theories through the course of translation in class. This would encourage students to make conscious decisions in translation as Newmark (1981) stated that a suitable translation theory provides methods and strategies to deal with complicated texts. Contrary to some previous findings such as Robinson (1997), or  Perez (2005), who believe that a translator does not need to specialize in theories, instructors at Iranian universities believe that mentioning translation theories during the translation courses is not time-consuming, and makes the students choose correct choices. In other words, in an attempt to give better options of translation, students can specialize in translation theories as well. Newmark (1988) states that a satisfactory theory recommends the most appropriate translation procedure. Therefore, it can be concluded that mentioning translation theories in practical classes, not only gives students more clues how to deal with problems, but also acknowledges the findings that focus on uniting theory and practice together.

A minor controversy exists here, and that is what makes more research about translation theories necessary. Based on the results, although participants of this study are aware of the significance of a good theory, some of them are undecided about one item. They are not sure whether or not translation theories help students translate cultural texts accurately. Perez (2005), claims that theory increases students’ awareness and helps them make wise decisions in translation. Hence, more studies are required to fill this gap between theory and practice to ensure both the students and instructors. Part B of the questionnaire that dealt with the personal attitude of instructors revealed that generally, instructors at Iranian universities have a good attitude about translation theories and mention them quite often in their practical classes. Refereeing to relevant translation theories during translation is considered very significant and agreed upon by almost all of the sample population. However, the controversy that was stated before exists here as well. To sum up the findings, instructors at Iranian universities have a relatively positive attitude toward using translation theories. They agree that both translator trainers and trainees need to master theories to do an acceptable translation. They also pay special attention to theories in their practical translation classes.

However, some controversies are observed. Instructors do not start their practical classes about good translation theories or do not motivate their students to increase their theoretical knowledge by assigning projects in this field. This indirectly misleads students to neglect the importance of theories and lean merely on practice. Therefore, more studies are needed to bind theory and practice together and fill this gap in academic translation programs in Iran and other countries.  As it is for every study, this thesis had the following limitations. First, the small questionnaire sample might reduce the generalizability of the results. Only 62 translation teachers responded to the questionnaire although the online questionnaire was emailed to 200 teachers from different universities of Iran. In addition, the number of specialized instructors at the Ph.D. level of translation studies in Iran is few, so most of the respondents had only experience in teaching translation just as a branch of their own major. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic restricted the researcher from doing experimental research and analyzing the students’ translation with and without knowledge of translation theories. In that way, the findings on a larger scale could support the studies’ finding. 

To further validate the findings of the present study, the following areas are suggested for further research:  Firstly, in this study, just professionals are being asked to answer the questionnaire, so similar research with the same objectives can be done on students of translation studies and have their opinions, too. Secondly, a comparison between translations done by students of translation studies with and without having theoretical knowledge of translation is worth being conducted. In other words, future researchers can conduct future research using different research methodologies. One possibility is an experimental research design. It might be a good idea to move forward by collecting data through participants’ opinions or reflections towards translation studies courses. For instance, future research might ask the participants to complete actual translations – one group is exposed to translation studies courses, and the other is restricted to the same exposure. This way, future researchers will conclude from their findings whether participants with knowledge of translation studies perform better than those who do not have the same knowledge. Finally, investigating the flaws of the current BA curriculum of translation studies would be a good research area.

 6. Conclusion

To sum up the findings, we can say that instructors at Iranian universities have a relatively positive attitude toward using translation theories in translation. They agree that both theory and practice are needed to do an acceptable translation. Another critical issue that most participants insist on is awareness of theories, which makes students more conscious about their errors.  They also believe that it would be nice if a programming course of theory were being added to translation teaching materials at the BA level. Most of them agree that if students select the correct type of theory, it would be beneficial. However, some controversies are observed. Some professors do not see theories related to cultural texts translation. Therefore, more studies are required to tie theory and practice together and fill this gap in academic translation programs.

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Volume 7, Issue 3
2022
Pages 65-90
  • Receive Date: 28 February 2022
  • Revise Date: 11 July 2022
  • Accept Date: 14 September 2022
  • First Publish Date: 14 September 2022