Research team

Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies (TricS)

Expertise

Language acquisition: (L1) second/foreign language acquisition (SLA) (L2) English as a second/foreign language (ESL/EFL) (L3) instructed second language acquisition (ISLA) (L4) sociolinguistics and second/foreign language acquisition (L2 sociolinguistics) (L5) cognitive load theory (in the language classroom) English language: (E1) English grammar (E2) English text production (written and oral) (E3) translation (Dutch into English) Translation studies: (T1) general translation studies (T2) translation competence (T3) translation revision competence (focus: stylistic translation revision)

Academic literacy in German as a foreign language: A corpus-based contrastive analysis of cohesion in written learner language. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

This research project investigates how advanced learners of German as a foreign language (L2) establish cohesion in their academic L2 writing. To enable effective and reader-oriented written communication in academic and professional settings, language learners must develop the ability to create cohesion, which is a crucial component of advanced communicative competence. This means that L2 learners must learn to use grammatical and lexical devices appropriately to signal the logical structure of a text to readers, connecting words into sentences, paragraphs, ideas and texts. Since the use of cohesive devices is highly language-dependent, cohesion is an important aspect of the language acquisition process, transcending traditional grammar–vocabulary distinctions. Given the importance of cohesion in high-quality writing, it is surprising that the cohesive devices deployed by language learners have received little attention in second language acquisition (SLA) research to date. While there is a growing body of research into cohesion in translation studies, which has led to theoretical insights into how languages differ in terms of cohesion, SLA research into cohesion has been limited to a handful of studies in advanced L2 English writing. SLA research into other languages – including German – has until now largely neglected cohesion as an important aspect of language acquisition. A similar lack of attention to cohesion has also been witnessed in L2 pedagogy, where cohesion is often neglected (e.g., in learning materials). As a result, L2 writers often make non-nativelike choices with respect to cohesion, even at advanced stages of language proficiency. Our project sets out to fill the two gaps above by proposing a comprehensive analysis of cohesion in academic L2 German writing, more specifically, summary writing. Our aim is threefold: (1) analyse similarities and differences in the use of cohesive devices by native (L1) and non-native (L2) writers in German; (2) investigate specific characteristics of cohesion in learners with L1 Dutch. To this aim, we will compile, annotate and publish a corpus of texts written by advanced Dutch-speaking L2 learners of German and (3) suggest fruitful applications of our theoretical findings to L2 pedagogy. We will adopt repeated contrastive corpus-based analysis, which is a new method consisting, in our project, of the comparison of three purposefully selected comparable corpora: (1) an existing corpus of summaries produced by L1 writers of German, (2) an existing corpus of summaries produced by L2 writers of German with different L1 backgrounds and (3) our newly created corpus of summaries produced by L2 writers of German with L1 Dutch. In so doing, we contribute to the growing body of learner corpora, which are gaining momentum in SLA research. In addition, we advance the theoretical knowledge of learner language by identifying L1-specific and L1-independent characteristics of cohesion in academic learner language, using novel methods and proposing evidence-based innovation in advanced L2 pedagogy.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The effects of corpus-focused instruction on sociolinguistic competence: A mixed-methods study into stylistic translation revision competence in English. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

This project focuses on the stylistic revision of Dutch–English translations. It investigates the effects of corpus-focused instruction (CFI) on stylistic translation revision competence. The use of corpora for translation revision has gained momentum in the last two decades. However, it remains unclear which corpora provide the best fit for the needs of translation trainees. Because error correction cannot take place without error detection, a crucial initial role in the process of stylistic translation revision is ascribed to receptive sensitivity to errors in translation revision tasks. However, detection of stylistic errors is difficult since it generally implies making choices between existing language variants with different degrees of formality. Language learners – including translation trainees – are often unaware that such choices must be made and if they are aware of such choices, they often find them extremely difficult. Consequently, an important question is how we can optimally develop receptive sensitivity to linguistic formality in translation settings to facilitate more accurate and informed style-related decisions during the translation revision process. This project addresses that question by investigating (1) how the form of explicit CFI affects translation trainees' ability to detect and correct formality-related problems in translation revision tasks and (2) which form of CFI triggers the highest success rate for detecting and correcting formality-related problems. The main variable in our experiment is corpus-focused instruction (prepared vs do-it-yourself corpora). Using these two types of corpora, we will investigate whether translation trainees' abundant contact with informal English affects their perception of linguistic formality and their ability to construct and/or use corpora. The results of this intervention will contribute to an informed best practice for translation revision pedagogy by defining a suggested degree of stylistic variation in corpora used for this purpose. Furthermore, the findings have theoretical significance for the fields of instructed second language acquisition, corpus-based translation studies and communication accommodation theory.

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Research team(s)

Stylistic appropriateness in English as a foreign language: The acquisition of grammatical formality by translation trainees. 01/07/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

An important component of communicative competence is sociolinguistic competence, which is the ability to use language appropriately in communication. Despite an increasing body of research into sociolinguistic features of foreign language (L2) learning, a feature that has received relatively little and/or one-sided treatment to date is the acquisition of sensitivity to (in)formal language use in L2 learners. This project addresses that gap by investigating sensitivity to grammatical formality in L2 learners of English. By using both quantitative and qualitative data, we will map – cross-sectionally and longitudinally – the acquisition of sensitivity to grammatical formality.Quantitative data from an online revision task and qualitative data from semi-structured interviews will be integrated to acquire a more nuanced understanding of how sensitivity to grammatical formality is acquired in L2 learners of English. The results will contribute to a better understanding of how sociolinguistic competence develops in L2 learners and to facilitating sociolinguistically responsive foreign language instruction.

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Research team(s)

Expert sensitivity to linguistic formality as a benchmark for measuring stylistic translation revision competence. 01/04/2018 - 31/03/2019

Abstract

This project directly contributes to the foundation of experimental research into the acquisition of translation revision competence. Funding is required to create a benchmark for the stylistic revision of a formal academic translation. The benchmark will guarantee the validity and reliability of ensuing experimental research. The data-collection instrument used for the benchmark and ensuing research consists of a source text (academic text in Dutch) and a target text (English translation of said academic source text). To establish the benchmark, 30 experts (professional translators) will be invited to conduct a stylistic revision of the English translation. The revision focus will be on detecting and correcting the inappropriate use of informal language in a formal academic context. Selected grammar and vocabulary problems in the English translation will form the 40 items that make up the data-collection instrument under investigation. A critical analysis of the amount and nature of revision will be performed to benchmark the stylistic revision of the translation. The resulting 'professional benchmark' will be used to select language items in the same academic translation for ensuing experimental research with non-experts (translators in training).

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Research team(s)

Towards a model of translation revision competence 01/07/2014 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

Translation revision competence has scarcely been addressed as a research topic in translation studies and there is no well-developed model of translation revision competence. The aim of this project is to construct a translation revision competence model and to initiate its validation through an experimental pilot study. The results would subsequently be used as a starting point for a larger study (e.g., a PhD project) on revision competence.

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Research team(s)