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Discussion

1^4- Remember that there are no right answers here. These are questions that

people are likely to feel very strongly about, to the point of believing

that their position is not only right but the only possible one. Those who can

really only learn foreign languages well by living in the country are going to

insist that that is the only legitimate way to become a translator; those who

are very good at learning languages from books or classes, and indeed have

learned several languages that way (and perhaps have never left the country

in which they were born) will disagree strongly. Some people have very strong

opinions on the issue of how to improve your native language: lots of

grounding in grammar classes and strict prescriptive rules; a thorough

familiarity with the great classics in the language; total immersion in pop and

street culture; or simply a good ear. There are good translators who started

off in language classes or a foreign country and only later, as professional

translators, started learning a technical subject or specialization; and there

are good translators who started off as engineers or lawyers or medical

students and only later began to work with languages. Some will argue that

you should never accept a job in a language combination for which your ability

is not absolutely tiptop professional — never into a foreign language, never out

of a language that you only know slightly, etc. — and some that it doesn't really

matter how well you know the language, you can always have your work

checked. Let them fight it out — the main thing being not to reach a conclusion

but to explore the implications of thinking either way, and (especially) of

basing a general principle on one's own experiences and preferences.

5 There are two fairly well-defined camps on this question. On the one hand,

you have people arguing that there is no room for intuition at all, you either

know the word or phrase or you don't, and if you don't, you should find out

— not "guess," which is how this camp tends to portray intuition. On the other

hand, you have people (like the author of this book) arguing that intuition is

inevitable, that all translators rely on intuition constantly, and that even

"knowing" a word or a phrase is largely or even entirely an intuitive act. If any

middle ground is to be found, it may be that translators tend to begin more

tentatively, afraid to trust either their intuitions or their knowledge, and to

grow in confidence with practice — an important point to stress because a rigid

condemnation of all intuition may well frighten off the less confident students,

who know they don't know enough to translate with total certainty (nobody

does).

6 This is another very general discussion topic aimed at exploring the

pedagogical assumptions underlying this book — which are stated vis-a-vis this

topic in the Introduction, namely, that it is important to chart out a middle

ground between the two extremes raised in the topic. Practical /experiential

learning (abduction/induction) needs to be sped up with various holistic

methods; precepts and abstract theories (deduction) needs to be brought to

life experientially.

1 This exercise can be done either by individual students on their own (in class

or at home) or by small groups of students working together. For example,

the students could work in pairs, each partner telling the other his or her

experiences of cultural change. The advantage of this latter approach is that

some students working alone may not be able to remember any changes — or

may never have been to a foreign culture — and other people's memories may

help them remember or imagine such changes. If none of your students has

ever been to a foreign culture, of course, the exercise will not work very well

— unless you adjust it for knowledge of foreign cultures through foreignlanguage

classrooms, television, etc.

2-4- These exercises are designed to bridge gaps between traditional pedagogies

based on grammatical rules and dictionaries and the more experientially based

pedagogy offered here. Many precept-oriented teachers, theorists, and

students of translation react with contempt to the notion that intuition plays

a significant role in translation, claiming instead that "craft" or "professionalism"

always entails a fully conscious and analytical following of precepts.

The idea here is that intuition is never pure solipsism or subjectivity; it always

works in tandem with analytical processes, in part driving those processes (we

have an intuitive sense for how to proceed analytically), in part serving as a

check on those processes (we sense intuitively that an analysis is leading us in

the wrong direction, producing results that run counter to experience of the

real world), and in part being checked by those processes (analysis can show

us how and where and why our intuitions are wrong and must be retrained).

For the three exercises you will need to find source texts for the students

to work on — or you can ask them to bring source texts from other classes.

All three exercises could be done with a single source text; or you could move

on to a new source text with each exercise. The advantage of using a new text

for each one is that students may grow bored with the same text and find less

and less to talk about in it with each exercise.