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Hatzidaki (2007) argues that many studies in translatology involves the analysis of the language processing that takes place when a text is being translated from one language to the other. This being the case, the researcher goes further to argue that a connection exists between translatology and psycholinguistics. This is given the fact that psycholinguistics involves cognitive processes that are largely similar to those found in translatology. Translatology especially addresses the activities of bilingual and multilingual individuals involved in the process of translating a text (Hatzidaki, 2007). On the other hand, psycholinguistics (as mentioned above) addresses the cognitive elements of language usage, an aspect that is related to translatology.
In his article, Zasyekin (2010) seems to concur with Hatzidaki (2007) as far as the relationship between translation and psycholinguistics is concerned. Zasyekin (2010) argues that applying psycholinguistic principles in translation studies (read translatology) enables the researcher to determine “structural and semantic characteristics of the original and target texts, (and how) they influence the reader” (p. 232).
This paper is going to critically review the article written by Zasyekin (2010) which reports the findings of his study viewing translation as a psycholinguistic phenomenon. In this paper, I am going to provide a summary of the article which will be followed by a critical reflection of the same. I will also comment on selected aspects of the article as well as relate the study to the SLA context in Saudi Arabia. The application of this research to different social settings will also be provided.
Summary of the Article
In the study reported in this article, Zasyekin (2010) proposes a theoretical framework that can be used to analyze translation of literary texts. This theoretical framework conceptualizes translation as a “psycho-semiotic phenomenon” that involves cognitive processes on the part of the translator.
Zasyekin (2010) makes use of four sources of data in his research. This includes The Catcher in the Rye and Franny, both texts written by Salinger. This is together with the Ukrainian and Russian versions of these two texts. The Temple of Poseidon by Pokalchuk is also used in this study. Other texts used include The Calling Cards and The Tender Breathing both by Bunin (Zasyekin, 2010). The English translations of the two texts are taken by Zasyekin as the primary corpus of this study. Ozymandias sonnet by Shelley is used by Zasyekin to supplement the primary corpus identified above.
Zasyekin (2010) reveals formal and content characteristics of the corpus by the use of a discourse analysis technique. The researcher also makes use of psycholinguistic techniques developed by Osgood et al. in 1957 to identify how semantic spaces are created by the native and target language readers of the selected texts (p. 226). Other techniques that are used by this researcher in the study include psycho-graphological analysis of prosaic texts.
Zasyekin (2010) concludes that the two codes that appear during translations can be regarded as two different forces. The codes are verbal-logical and concrete-imagined which are taken by many scholars (including Zasyekin himself) as the opposing forces in fictional texts. Distortions of textual structure result into a “spacious and simultaneous perception (of the) mythological (and) cyclic time model” (Zasyekin, 2010: pp. 232-233). Zasyekin concludes that this affects the consciousness of the reader.
The target reader is expected to interpret the information that is contained in the translated text. According to Zasyekin (2010), this involves application of cognitive efforts which might overload the reader’s consciousness (p. 233). This negatively affects the relevance of the information on the part of the reader.
The major aim of Zasyekin as expressed in this article is to prove that translation is a psycholinguistic phenomenon. One reason why I find this article credible is the fact that the researcher integrates theories and perspectives of other scholars in the field in his study. For example, he refers to Vygotsky’s theory of the aesthetic response to show how the left and right cerebral hemispheres of the human brain affect the translation process (Zasyekin, 2010: p. 232). Other theories that the researcher integrates in his study includes Nida’s theory of dynamic equivalence among others. This makes this article a credible reference and source of information especially for linguistic students like me. This point is supported by other scholars such as Warszawa (2004).
After reading this article, I found that Zasyekin’s study can be used to understand SLA students in Saudi Arabia. It is noted that English is a second language to almost all Saudi Arabia students who are taught using the language in college. These students will find themselves translating texts from English to Arabic and from Arabic to English. The students will also read articles and texts that have been translated from one language to the other either in class or at home. This being the case, translation can be seen as a critical aspect of SLA student in Saudi Arabia.
However, one weakness of this article when it comes to understanding SLA students in Saudi Arabia is the fact that none of the texts used by Zasyekin is written or translated into Arabic. The texts used are written or translated either in English, Russian or Ukrainian.
- Hatzidaki, A. (2007). The process of comprehension from a psycholinguistic approach- Implications for translation. Meta: Translators’ Journal, 52(1): 13-21.
- Warszawa, W. (2004). Process of translation from the psycholinguistic perspective. A review of Krzysztof Hejwowski ‘the cognitive-communicative theory of translation’. Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2004: 200-212.
- Zasyekin, S. (2010). Translation as a psycholinguistic phenomenon. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 39: 225-234.