تدريس نظريات الترجمة لطلبة الصف الرابع في قسم الترجمة في جامعة البصرة
Teaching Translation Theories for 4th Year Students of Translation at the University of Basrah: A Personal Account
Every year in teaching fourth year students of translation at the University of Basrah, I start with all the passion, devotion and love in the world but every year face the problem of the low score of success. Needless to say, I exert every possible effort to explain the concepts, terms and figures in my course. I never once left the teaching hall without giving my students the chance to raise questions about any ambiguous matters, and mostly left the classroom with mouths shut. When I discuss the bad performance of my students with them, they blame everything and everybody except themselves. They, for instance, make reference to the difficulty of the textbook, the difficulty of the questions, the insufficiency of exam hours, and implicitly me.
In teaching the course "Theories of Translation", I often start with explaining and emphasizing some important premises. These premises are as follows:
•1. By their very nature, theoretical matters involve varying levels of difficulty because they are enmeshed in a good degree of abstraction and imagination. I give different examples here of the easiness of some practices and the difficulty of their related theorization like practical driving and theories and mechanics of operating the engine. As such, I call my students' attention to the fact that more study time is needed.
•2. Theorizing is a luxurious activity that is practiced after essential needs are secured. And while translation practice is old and predates theory, the first is relatively speaking easier with the availability of time and translation aids like dictionaries and the like. In all cases and circumstances, translation theory and practice cannot be separated.
•3. Translation is one and the same. What differs is the prism we use to look at it. Different scholars with different training, backgrounds and affiliations make translation look differently. A moralist critic analyses stories differently from a psychological or a formalist critic. The difference in adopting different units of translation (i.e. word, sentence, text, register, discourse) and the schools the scholars relate to (i.e. classical, linguistic, functional, systemic, manipulative, genderistic, postcolonialist) is the reason behind the multifarious facets of translation.
•4. The abundance of terminology is a problem in translation which we cannot escape. The best solution is to prepare ourselves to using them appropriately according to theoretical context. It is worth mentioning that the terminology cannot be divorced from the scholars using them and the schools they are associated with. Translation becomes a target text, translationese, translatese and translatumm, equivalence is formal, dynamic, semantic, communicative, and adequacy overrides equivalence, and the list is endless.
•5. Academic students like our translation students differ from common people or from vocational students who might have or came across a passing knowledge of translation. The university's aim is not to graduate translators with only practical experience but also to equip them with the conceptual apparatus that empower them to discuss and explain the different translation phenomena.
On my part, and as a teacher of translation theory for a relatively long time now, I know the problem very well. Knowing the problem, however, is something and applying solutions is something else because applying solutions is unfortunately not in the hands of the teachers.
Fundamentally, the problem of students in the course of Translation Theories can be diagnosed and summarised in:
•1. Students of translation, in Iraqi private and government institutions, are admitted with the minimum scores in the source and target languages (English and Arabic). As such their embryological stage for language is incomplete.
•2. The problem is aggravated by the 'generous' ministerial and university orders to help students pass to new stages in the different departments due to the unstable security and political situation. Hereby, the studentsreach their fourth years without a good command of their source and target languages in general and of the language of instruction, English in particular.
•3. Very much related to the language of instruction (English), the students have problems of constructing good and acceptable sentences, and do not have a sentence sense to correct their awkward sentences or fragments. Such students will definitely find problems understanding and memorizing short and long texts, and of complying with the formal component of the answers (i.e. language).
•4. The attention of students through their four year study is not drawn to the different and varied study skills, and their approaches and strategies to deal with differentprofessors, teaching and examination orientations are insufficient and unsatisfactory.
•5. The unfortunate and unscientific emphasis on practice over theory in most of the other courses makes it difficult to handle completely theoretical courses such as "theories" and "semantics". Students find memorizing long texts of theory difficult because they do not love memorizing. Needless to say, memorization by heart of short and long texts isfundamental for the development of language skills. Moreover, I can explain the unlucky effect of priotorizing practice over theory by using the professional explanation of the effect of TV addiction on reading and thinking. TV programmes follow an up-down line of presentation (programmes vary from the news to the songs to the coverages to thrillers to the speeches and so on). Reading, however, is linear, going gradually step by step, from titles, to tables of content, to forewords, to introductions, to developments, to problems and solutions. It was found that the up and down order of the TV disrupts the linear order of reading and makes it difficult if not impossible.
•6. Some students and colleagues unconsciously believe that practice is needed in this course. To them I say that neither the textbook nor the teacher is in need of illustrative examples. The examples in the textbook are many and varied and to them I add examples from my own Arabic background to help the students understand very well the theoretical issues. We have to differentiate here between giving examples and making practice. To add practice to the course means to create another course that may be something like "Translation Theories and Practice" which I think cannot be covered within the limited period of time and thenumber of official and non-official holidays in the country.
•7. To students complaining of the "amount" of theories, I say that any university course should develop the academic and scientific capabilities of both the students and the teachers in addition to complying with the other standards of time and space.
•8. The solutions must be independently applied by the teaching staff itself. In the first place teachers in the formative years must put in practice every possible effort to help the students, and must not be lenient with lazy and inconsiderate students. Successful students must be encouraged and rewarded while failures must be given the red tickets. Students in between should be diagnosed and their problems very well identified so as to push them forward.
On a final note, I would like to recapitulate that students whose linguistic qualifications are unsatisfactory cannot be hoped to study highly theoretical courses.
أ.د. كاظم خلف العلي