Авторы: 159 А Б В Г Д Е З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

Книги:  184 А Б В Г Д Е З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

The translator's memory

Translation is an intelligent activity, requiring creative problem-solving in novel

textual, social, and cultural conditions. As we have seen, this intelligent activity

is sometimes very conscious; most of the time it is subconscious, "beneath" our

conscious awareness. It is no less intelligent when we are not aware of it — no less

creative, and no less analytical. This is not a "mystical" model of translation. The

sublimated intelligence that makes it possible for us to translate rapidly, reliably, and

enjoyably is the product of learning — which is to say, of experience stored in

memory in ways that enable its effective recall and flexible and versatile use.

This does not mean that good translators must memorize vast quantities of linguistic

and cultural knowledge; in fact, insofar as we take "memorization" to mean the

conscious, determined, and rote or mechanical stuffing of facts into our brains, it

is quite the opposite. Translators must be good at storing experiences in memory,

and at retrieving those experiences whenever needed to solve complex translation

problems; but they do not do this by memorizing things. Memory as learning works

differently. Learning is what happens when you're doing something else — especially

something enjoyable, but even something unpleasant, if your experience leaves a

strong enough impression on you. Translators learn words and phrases, styles and

tones and registers, linguistic and cultural strategies while translating, while interpreting,

while reading a book or surfing the Internet, while talking to people, while

sitting quietly and thinking about something that happened. Communicating with

people in a foreign country, they learn the language, internalize tens of thousands

of words and phrases and learn to use them flexibly and creatively in ways that

make sense to the people around them, without noticing themselves "memorizing."

Translating the texts they are sent, interpreting the words that come out of a source

speaker's mouth, they learn transfer patterns, and those patterns are etched on their

brains for easy and intelligent access, sometimes without their even being aware

that they have such things, let alone being able to articulate them in analytical, rulegoverned

ways. All they know is that certain words and phrases activate a flurry of

finger activity on the keyboard, and the translation seems to write itself; or they

open their mouths and a steady stream of target text comes out, propelled by some

force that they do not always recognize as their own.

Representational and procedural memory

Memory experts distinguish between representational memory and procedural memory.

Representational memory records what you had for breakfast this morning, or what

your spouse just told you to get at the store: specific events. Procedural memory

helps you check your e-mail, or drive to work: helps you perform skills or activities

that are quickly sublimated as unconscious habits.

And translators and interpreters need both. They need representational memory

when they need to remember a specific word: "What was the German for 'wordwrap'?"

Or, better, because more complexly contextualized in terms of person and

event (see below): "What did that German computer guy last summer in Frankfurt

call 'word-wrap'?" They need procedural memory for everything else: typing and

computer skills, linguistic and cultural analytical skills for source-text processing,

linguistic and cultural production skills for target-text creation, and transfer patterns

between the two.

Representational memory might help a translator define a word s/he once looked

up in a dictionary; procedural memory might help a translator use the word effectively

in a translation. Representational memory might help a student to reproduce a translation rule on an exam; procedural memory might help a student to use that

rule in an actual translation exercise with little or no awareness of actually doing so.

While both forms of memory are essential for translation, their importance is

relatively specialized. Procedural memory is most useful when things go well: when

the source text makes sense, is well-formed grammatically and lexically; when the

translation job is well-defined, its purpose and target audience clearly understood;

when editors and users and critics either like the translation or do not voice their

criticisms. Representational memory is most useful when things go less well: when

a poorly written source text requires a conscious memory of grammatical rules and

fine lexical distinctions; when the translation commissioner is so vague about a job

that it cannot be done until the translator has coaxed out of her or him a clear

definition of what is to be done; when rules, regularities, patterns, and theories

must be spelled out to an irate but ill-informed client, who must be educated to see

that what seems like a bad translation is in fact a good one.

To put that in the terms we'll be using in the remainder of this book: procedural

memory is part of the translator's subliminal processing; representational memory

is a part of the translator's conscious processing. Procedural memory helps the

translator translate rapidly; representational memory is often needed when perceived

problems make rapid translation impossible or inadvisable.