Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sight Translation

The previous post described a translator training program I learned about during a lecture at Swansea University. There was also another interesting lecture at my school last week. Professor Gloria Sampaio from the Catholic University of São Paulo in Brazil spoke about sight translation.

Sight translation is something I had never thought much about and it is not one of the more researched areas of translation studies, so I appreciated her talk. Basically, sight translation is doing a translation on the spot orally from a written text. Sometimes a translator or interpreter might have a couple of minutes to prepare, but often she or he simply gets a text and has to read and translate it aloud at once. In other words, it is oral translation, a combination of translation and interpretation, of the visual and the vocal. Professor Sampaio said that it should sound as though the translator is just reading aloud something in the target language.

Historically, she explained, it was used a pedagogical tool for teaching classic languages. Some language courses still do use this technique. Now, it can frequently be part of an interpretation assignment, such as during a court case when there are documents being discussed, or if an interpreter is doing a simultaneous conference interpretation and someone is reading aloud from an essay (so the interpreter has the paper and also has to listen in case the speaker deviates from the text in some way). In other situations, an interpreter or translator might be handed a text and asked to summarize or analyze it, rather than perform a straight translation.

Professor Sampaio made it clear that sight translation is a challenging activity, since it requires so many different skills at once (reading comprehension, analysis, terminology, quick-thinking, memory, speech production, and so on), and that it could be a useful part of interpreter training programs. She also thought it was a good way of testing and assessing translation/interpretation/language students or applicants for language-related jobs.

5 comments:

YoungExec2B said...

I often had to perform sight translation during my studies in translation. The reason for this was that my professor felt that as a translator, sometimes the first instinct was the best, especially for texts where a premium was placed on readability as opposed to technical research or specialized jargon. It is indeed a very demanding practice for translators, and I can only assume that it is the same for interpreters. If done well, however, it can serve to improve a translator's confidence in his or her own thought process, as many translators, particularly inexperienced ones, tend to rely too heavily on their research tools and theorems instead of simply using their skills to express themselves in a smooth, flowing fashion.

Brett Jocelyn Epstein said...

Thank you for your comment! Did you agree with your professor that the first instinct was sometimes the best? Would you recommend it only as a training tool, or also as a method of translatorial practice?

Best wishes,
Brett

Çeviri said...

sight translation, for me, is one of the best exercising methods for translators and interpreters alike. as it contains both written and spoken aspects of language, it is a good tool for self-practice. you can try yourself in sight translation and see if you can make a good interpreter or translator.

Sarah said...

well, i read a lot about sight translation and found it an interesting topic to work on through out my postegraduation studies since very few have been written about such topic before.Gould you elaborate your comments to help me coming up with nice result.

Sarah said...

well, i read a lot about sight translation and found it an interesting topic to work on through out my postegraduation studies since very few have been written about such topic before.Gould you elaborate your comments to help me coming up with nice result.