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Anthony Pym the Pedagogical Value of Translation Solution Types

Feb 12, 2018



  • 7/23/2019 Anthony Pym the Pedagogical Value of Translation Solution Types


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    The pedagogical value of translation

    solution typesAnthony Pym

    abc& Esther Torres-Simn


    aIntercultural Studies Group, Universitat Rovira i Virgili,

    Tarragona, SpainbDepartment of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University,

    Stellenbosch, South AfricacMonterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, CA, USA

    Published online: 03 Jul 2014.

    To cite this article:Anthony Pym & Esther Torres-Simn (2015) The pedagogical valueof translation solution types, Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 23:1, 89-106, DOI:10.1080/0907676X.2014.928334

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  • 7/23/2019 Anthony Pym the Pedagogical Value of Translation Solution Types


    The pedagogical value of translation solution types

    Anthony Pyma,b,c*and Esther Torres-Simna

    aIntercultural Studies Group, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain; bDepartment ofAfrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; cMonterey Institute ofInternational Studies, Monterey, CA, USA

    (Received 4 February 2014; accepted 21 May 2014)

    Typologies of translation solutions have been used in translator training since at leastthe 1950s. Despite numerous criticisms, some of the oldest versions are still held to

    have pedagogical value as the toolboxes of the trade. Here we report on class activitiesin which two classical typologies Vinay and Darbelnet and Loh were learned,applied, and critically evaluated by four classes of final-year Masters studentstranslating into a variety of European and Asian languages. It is found that studentsworking with European languages prefer Vinay and Darbelnet, while students workingwith Chinese prefer Loh. The studentsevaluations of the solution types neverthelessreveal surprising lacunas in both, and evince the need for some careful redefinitions.The pedagogical value of the solution types thus lies not in their capacity to describeactual translation processes, since there is a strong linguistic relativity involved, but inthe way that their imperfect metalanguages allow students to reflect critically not onlyon their own practice but also on the difficulties of theorization.

    Keywords: teaching translation; translating style; translation theory; cultural diversity

    1. Introduction

    Translation solution types also known as procedures, techniques, shifts, andstrategies have been present in translator-training classes since at least their formulation

    by Vinay and Darbelnet (under the name translation procedures) in 1958. Here we preferthe name translation solutionsbecause they are based on comparing texts, rather than ondata from process research (see Pym, 2011; Zabalbeascoa, 2000). The solution typesusually come in packets of between seven and 10 categories, arranged in descending orderof translation unit size: Loan, Calque, Literal Translation, Transposition, Modulation, andso on (in the Vinay and Darbelnet version). There are many such lists, and almost as manycriticisms. They have been justly accused of being devoid of cognitive grounding, unable totell students whichsolutions to use, badly organized, and restricted to specific language

    pairs (see, for example, Delisle,1988, pp. 7273; Koller,1979, p. 235; Muoz Martn,2000; Sguinot, 1991). At the same time, the traditional categories have remainedremarkably stable across different theorists and different languages, without any obvious

    progress in terms of conceptual elegance or data-based testing (see Muoz Martn,2000;Pym,in press). This suggests that they retain some pedagogical value, over and abovethe theoretical and empirical shortcomings. Our aim here is to test the nature of that

    *Corresponding author. Email: [email protected]

    Perspectives: Studies in Translatology,2015Vol. 23, No. 1, 89106,

    2014 Taylor & Francis

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  • 7/23/2019 Anthony Pym the Pedagogical Value of Translation Solution Types


    pedagogical value, specifically with respect to the way in which the categories might relateto specific language pairs.

    Our point of departure comes from the remarkable coincidence that, in the same yearthat Vinay and Darbelnet published their solution types in Stylistique compare dufranais et de langlais (1958/1972), the Chinese scholar Loh Dian-yang (or LuDianyang, ) published a similar list in his book Translation: Its Principles andTechniques(1958). There seems to have been no direct connection or influence betweenthese two projects, although there were certainly indirect historical connections: Loh wasdrawing on the Chinese translation of Fedorov (1953), who was framed by a formalistlinguistic tradition that was nominally in touch with the Geneva school stylistics thatVinay and Darbelnet were working from; we cannot assume that either set of solutiontype is in some way autochthonous. Whatever the intricacies of history, the same yeargives us two versions of solution types: one for FrenchEnglish, the other for ChineseEnglish. The fortuitous coincidence of the year superficially enables us to give bothtypologies an equal chance, perhaps deploying a certain shared retro charm. As it

    happens, though, the Loh typology has remained fairly stable in subsequent textbooks forChinese translation (Zhang,2001; Zhang and Pan,2009), just as Vinay and Darbelnets

    basic approach has continued to inform the European tradition. In exploring thepedagogical value of the two lists from 1958, we might thus hope to be testing indirectlythe relative virtues of the traditions that were based on those works.

    A rough outline of what is involved can be seen inTable 1, in which we attempt toalign the two sets of solution types. Direct comparison is made difficult by the prosodiceffects that Vinay and Darbelnet actually list as second-order adjustments. It isnevertheless possible to see how the two approaches aim to do more or less the samework, with some non-correspondences being immediately obvious: the Chinese typology

    has more categories for the various types of word-order borrowing, just as Vinay andDarbelnet have more categories for the transformation of large-scale cultural referentstowards the bottom of the table. How important might such differences actually be?

    We have been able to explore the pedagogical value of the solution types by teachingthem in mixed practicum classes in which students work between English and several

    Table 1. Possible alignment of categories from Vinay and Darbelnet (1958/1972) and Loh (1958)(cf. Zhang and Pan,2009, p. 366).

    Vinay and Darbelnet Loh

    Borrowing TransliterationSemantic translationCoinage of newcharacters

    CalqueLiteral translation[Prosodic effects:Amplification/reduction, Explicitation/implicitation,



    Transposition ConversionModulation Inversion

    NegationReformulation (quivalence)Adaptation

    90 A. Pym and E. Torres-Simn

  • 7/23/2019 Anthony Pym the Pedagogical Value of Translation Solution Types