Recent developments and future directions

Empirical investigations into influences of emotion on the translation process and translation performance

Exploratory empirical evidence from think-aloud protocols

Against this theoretical backdrop, it is now time to turn our attention towards the more recent empirical evidence that has been provided for influences of emotion on the translation process and on the resulting product. At earlier stages of translation process research, several studies based on think-aloud protocols provided some exploratory empirical evidence for the relevance of emotion for the translation process and insights into how emotions may influence translation performance. In many cases, this evidence emerged accidentally as a by-product of research that had an essentially exploratory nature. In Kussmaul’s (1991) study, which he describes as an attempt to “find out more about [...] translation problems which involve creative thinking” (1991, p. 91), two translators were asked to discuss their activities with the experimenter while translating a text from English into German. From his study, Kussmaul concluded that creative solutions during the translation process are associated with moments of positive affect. A few years later, Tirkkonen-Condit s and Laukkanen’s (1996) explicit aim was to “shed light on the affective side of translators’ decisions” (Tirkkonen-Condit & Laukkanen, 1996, p. 45). They analysed evaluative statements of professional translators in think-aloud protocols and compared differences between routine tasks and non-routine tasks. Tirkkonen-Condit and Laukkanen concluded from their observations that the “affective differences” (1996, p. 48) between the tasks may have been related to the better quality of the translation in the routine task. In particular, they suggested a positive relation between a translator’s confidence and translation quality, for “in a feeling of security” (1996, p. 50), the subject was more likely to assume the “role of a communicator” (1996, p. 56) and detach herself from the source text. Even ifTirkkonen-Condit’s and Laukkanen’s study involved only two subjects, they suggested a new relation between a translator’s affective state and translation performance. In particular, their findings indicated that detachment from the source text may be emotion sensitive. Moreover, Jaaskelainen (1996) compared think-aloud protocol data and translation evaluations from a sample that was composed of subjects with three different proficiency levels: bilingual laymen, students and professionals. Jaaskelainen’s comparison revealed that contrary to the expectations underlying the study, neither a translator’s degree of proficiency nor specific translation procedures accounted for translation quality. Rather,Jaaskelainen pointed out, “the effort invested in the process bears fruit as higher translation quality” (1996, p. 66). Her results illustrated the relevance of motivation, which is largely guided by the affective system (Higgins, 2009), for translation performance. In a similar vein, Fraser (1996) observed, in a study relying on think-aloud protocols and retrospective data, that in order to achieve high standards in their work, professional translators invest emotional commitment. In conclusion, the studies mentioned provided indications that affective factors can influence translation performance in different ways: either emotions promote translation quality by enhancing creativity or through motivational processes, or emotions have a negative influence by inhibiting detachment from the source text. It was a methodological issue, however, that all the studies relied on very small samples. Building on this exploratory evidence, further translation scholars set out to examine the role of affect and emotion with larger samples.

Larger-scale studies focusing on influences of emotion on translators' decision making and translation performance

Acknowledging the potential significance of emotion for the translation process as well as the resulting product, Lehr (2014) conducted a focused empirical investigation aiming at providing insight into how translators’ emotional state influences decision making and performance. The two-phase study relied on reader responses and expert evaluations of translation quality and involved 42 professional translators, who completed two translations in their usual work environments. Starting from the notion that the text is an important emotional stimulus when translating (Hansen, 2006; Lederer, 2003), but that also other situational aspects can elicit emotional reactions, such as, for example, feedback (Kussmaul, 1991), the study focused on the relation between two different types of emotions, integral and incidental emotions, and performance in translation. The first phase of the study examined the influence of integral text-related emotions on the emotionality of a translated text, that is, the text’s potential to prompt an emotional response. Based on the assumption that this relation could be explained through emotioncongruence effects and primed emotional information (Niedenthal et al., 1997), translations by translators who had themselves experienced a more or a less intense emotional response to the text were rated for emotionality by readers and compared. No evidence in support of the assumption that the emotional response of the translator influences the emotionality of the translation was found, suggesting that emotion-congruence effects at lower levels of processing only have a limited impact on more controlled processes and the translation product. Indeed, the study’s results indicate, rather, that emotion-congruence effects in more controlled language processing, such as translation, may be subject to other processes, for example intentions to overcome a bias.

In the second part of the study, Lehr (2014) examined the influence of incidental emotions, which the literature has associated most notably with the processing consequences of affective states and differences in accuracy and creativity (Bohner & Schwarz, 1993; Kussmaul, 1991). With this aim, translations from translators who had received either positive or negative feedback on a previous translation task were compared.The feedback induced emotions that were clearly separated on the positive—negative axis. Moreover, the comparison of translation evaluations between the two groups showed higher ratings for idiomatic expression and stylistic appropriateness after positive feedback, criteria that can be attributed to the creativity category, and higher ratings for terminology after negative feedback, a criterion that can be attributed to accuracy in translation. The study thus found that translators’ emotional state can influence the translated text through its influences on cognitive processing style. More specifically, emotions aroused by positive or negative performance feedback seem to have an influence on particular aspects of accuracy, fundamental to all translation activity, and creativity, which is necessary at certain points in the text to varying degrees. Having framed the translation process within the componential view of emotion, we would assume that influences of emotion on accuracy and creativity in translation occur through the recursive effects of emotion on subsequent appraisals during the translation process. The results outlined here seem to indicate that the influence of affective states may be manifested most clearly in instances when there is a need for something “on top” of the basic routine processes, such as, for example, very careful scrutiny for terminology or finding a particularly idiomatic formulation. Effects of affective states may thus be especially impactful when the task becomes increasingly difficult and translators cannot draw on routinized solutions. Similar tendencies, namely that positive affect seems to promote creativity and negative affect accuracy, were observed by Rojo & Kamos Caro (2016), although their results lacked statistical significance. In line with the results from the first phase of Lehr’s (2014) study, their observations indicate that decision making in professional translation may only to a certain extent be susceptible to emotion effects, and that emotion effects in the translation process may be subject to routine procedures and other controlled processes, for example motivations to be accurate. How emotions influence translation performance, and how strong the effects are, no doubt depends on numerous variables that remain to be further investigated and have to be integrated with other factors that influence emotion processes, such as interindividual differences between translators.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >