Errors in Specialized Translation Training: A Corpus-Based Study on the Sight Translation of a Popular Science Article


In recent years, sight translation (SiT), the oral translation of a written text, has received little attention in the sphere of translator training. Rather, this practice has been almost exclusively studied within the framework of interpreting. Yet, based on the examination of the master’s programs in translation (Giancola, 2022) recognized by the European Master’s in Translation (EMT) (European Commission, 2022c), SiT is used, although rarely, as a course per se or as occasional exercises in translation training. Additionally, Dragsted and Hansen (2009) have emphasized its relevance and its benefits for translation students, which include improving speed rate, acquiring automatisms, and being more fluent. Based on these preliminary observations, the present study focuses on error patterns and speech disfluencies in SiT as part of specialized translation training. The study rests upon a corpus of twenty English-to-French SiTs of a popular science article about astrophysics performed by specialized translation students (Meyers, 2022). Building on existing work on errors in SiT, this study aims to find out the different error patterns observed in the corpus and the impact of speech disfluencies on the overall quality of the output. To analyze the corpus, an error typology in line with SiT has been developed based on established error analysis frameworks, such as MQM (Lommel et al., 2015) and Falbo’s typology (1998), combined with new categories. Analysis of the corpus demonstrated the significant prevalence of meaning errors (p < 0.05), with a high number of terminological issues. This study also established the statistically significant association between errors and speech disfluencies (p < 0.05). The results suggest that SiT error patterns in specialized translation training differ from the observations made in the context of interpreting and that speech disfluencies negatively influence the overall performance. On this basis, it is recommended to explore SiT in specialized translation training independently and target speech disfluencies to enhance performance. Future research is needed to identify the ins and outs of SiT as part of specialized translation training —for instance, in legal translation training— and to determine whether it should become an integral part of the curriculum.
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