Identify a Relevant and Realistic Topic

So far you have read about the translating experiences of others and have recalled your own. The next step is to identify a relevant and realistic topic for research. The word "relevant" refers to a topic that directly deals with issues in translation itself; "realistic" refers to a topic that can be dealt with in a B.A. thesis given the constraints of time and resources. Why do we place special emphasis on being "relevant" and "realistic" at all?

First, doing translation exercises has always been an effective way to achieve language proficiency. Hence, translation is usually regarded as part of foreign language teaching and learning. People are often confused about whether a problem is a translation problem or a language problem. Take trainees D and F above, for example. Both of their experiences describe difficulties in translating, which result from inadequate command of the English language. To be more precise, D's experience concerns the trainee's limited English vocabulary while F's involves the interference of the trainee's mode of thinking in his native language with his way of expression in the English language. Although satisfactory language proficiency is a prerequisite for training in translation, translatorial behaviors can and should be investigated independently of the factor of language proficiency because the translational phenomenon often presents problems and issues that have little to do with language proficiency. Hence both experiences are not relevant to research focusing on the translational phenomenon itself.

Second, a B.A. program usually allows you four to eight weeks to work on your thesis. On the one hand, you may not have access to the necessary literature to do a fairly comprehensive survey of the area under study. Hence you have to evaluate the feasibility of what you propose to investigate. Consider the financial problems in the translation industry raised by trainee K, for example. Such problems are far from what you can tackle in a B.A. thesis. Therefore, this kind of experience would probably not lead to any realistic topic for you. On the other hand, since you have taken a course in linguistics, you may feel at home with issues to do with the role of linguistic workings in translation because you can conduct a detailed analysis of the texts in your hand. Hopefully, the analytic results would shed light on your conception of the translational phenomenon.


Task 1
Categorize the Reported Experiences
Task 2
Identify the Formulated Topics


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