In the paper, I argue that human cognition is vital for language, the creation of human understanding of the world, scientific or otherwise, and in the interaction between these two. I consider the link between the world, language and the mind as it is played out in the task of determining what constitutes the object of study for the field of translation studies. The basic argument is that determining what is to be included in the 'translation' category is like all other category judgements, a highly cognitive endeavour. As such, the structures and processes involved in human cognition are vital elements of the process of matching word to 'thing', and of grouping kinds. In the paper, I outline the basic philosophy/cognitive science framework in which my investigations are couched and present the results of two empirical studies. The data from the first study indicates a pattern of prototype effects for the 'translation' category, which is subsequently supplemented with etymological data in order to derive a cognitive model for 'translate'. In the final discussion, I demonstrate the power of this cognitive model in addressing resilient (meta)theoretical dilemmas in the field of translation studies, including the position of interlingual translation as compared to other types of translation, the question of disciplinary boundaries and relationships, and the current position and potential utility of the equivalence concept.
In early work in Translation Studies, contrastive data was often used to investigate a translator’s options, either enabling the investigation of translator decision making or in the service of translation pedagogy. The introduction of contrastive corpus data later on facilitated the shift of focus from structural comparisons of language systems to the study of situated texts (cf. Teich 1999, 2003) and relationships between linguistic variation and translational context. Today, contrastive data often inform studies of the characteristics of translated language, also known as ‘translation universals’ research. Some of the latest work in this area investigates the concurrent effects of either discourse or text type characteristics and a potential ‘universal’ or the concurrent and possibly opposing effects of several universals. As more complex results emerge, the need for explanatory hypotheses becomes increasingly urgent. At present, there are essentially two alternative (though not necessarily mutually exclusive) sets of proposals regarding potential causes of the patterns in question. One set of proposals is based on systemic functional linguistics and situates causes in the social realm, while the other set chooses to situate causes for some of these effects within the cognitive realm. Attempts to bridge the two are also beginning to appear. Theory development and hypothesis testing in TS must be integrally linked to assessments regarding the status of various data types. Such assessment efforts are imperative, and one of the most pressing issues at present involves the use of contrastive data. Using Stubbs’s discussion of language aspects as a heuristic, the present paper discusses some of the problems facing cognitive and social frameworks alike.
Explicitation, or sometimes increased “explicitness” has attracted considerable attention within translation studies in past decades. The present study employs lexical bundles (LBs) automatically retrieved from a consecutive interpreting corpus to demonstrate the complexity involved in determining the causal factors that may account for this phenomenon. The analysis of the ST‒TT descriptive data demonstrates three regular patterns involved in LB introduction into and recurrence in the interpreted texts, namely, simple addition, repetitive addition and quasi-repetitive addition. By considering the additions of LBs in context, we may illustrate the complexity of possible causation involved.