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On paradigms and cognitive translatology

Ricardo Muoz Martn

Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

Based on sorne common traits of situated, embodied, and distributed cognition,

ten suggestions for a functionalist, cognitive translatology are proposed. This
framework views translating as an interpersonal activity focused on creative imitation. It also adopts a developmental perspective on the empirical, ecological,
and psychologically realistic study of expertise and suggests that expertise and
proceduralization should be top priorities in empirical research. The framework
also considers that there is an urgent need to establish experimental paradigms
to foster the interplay between theory and research in cognitive translatology.
The paper concludes with suggesti~ns for establishing general research standards against which individual research projects in the field can be evaluated.

Translation scholars have always been involved in the debate of the two cultures
described by Snow (1959). This debate roughly divides humanistic approaches
from scientific-oriented frameworks. This particular distinction is not the greatest of my concerns in this paper. Translation and interpreting, whether viewed as
one or two disciplines, host a vast array of perspectives and approaches covering
the scientific-humanistic spectrum, and this wide array of difference is positive
(Moser-Mercer 1991). I will not therefore suggest that scientific, cognitive approaches to translation are suitable for ali areas and interests in the broader field
of translation studies. However, since this article is primarily aimed at scholars
studying translation and interpreting and conducting process research, further
exploration and development of a science of translation and cognition, a cognitive
translatology, is called for.
In this paper, I will present sorne aspects of connectionism, which paved the
way towards new understandings of the mind, and of embodied, situated, and
distributed cognition. Then, I will propose sorne principles to develop a cognitive translatology based on these aspects. Finally, I will consider the relationship


On paradigms and cognitive translatology

Ricardo Muoz Martn

between theory and research, especially from the perspective of these principles.
Let me start, however, by introducing a terminological note. In this paper I will
use the term paradigm with two meanings. The first one is epistemological, and
it points to the adoption of a generally accepted perspective which determines
the set of practices in a discipline in a given period (Kuhn 1962). Kuhn also formulated a pre-paradigmatic stage, the period before a paradigm has been broadly
accepted, which seems to describe well the situation today for cognitive translatologies, where disciplinary changes seem to have been faster at generating research questions and methods, than in developing new disciplinary tenets (or
challenging older ones) and ways of interpreting results. The second meaning of
paradigm is the one associated with the expression experimental paradigm, but
let us focus now on the first meaning and, in doing so, have a very brief look at
sorne new trends in connectionism that have a bearing on the development of
our discipline.

Towards new understandings of the mind

Parallel distributed processing, or connectionism (Feldman and Ballard 1982), is
a set of theories about the chaotic structure of the brain which tries to explain human intellectual abilities by means of interconnected networks. These networks
are mathematical sets of units (programming constructs) which apply non-linear
statistical strategies to model complex relationships between inputs and outputs
or to find pattems in data. Many of these networks are called artificial neural
networks because they are said to functionally mimic biological neurons. In fact,
experiments have proved that neural networks can learn skills, such as face recognition and reading, and many researchers in this area think that studying mental
processes amounts to studying the neural systems which make them possible. This
approach runs counter to the notion that mental representations can be studied
separately from biological and neurological concems (cf. Buttler 1994), as held
by "classical" cognitive science, the information-processing paradigm, because it
seeks explanations for the workings of the mind in the mechanics of the brain.
Central to connectionist theories is the concept of activation, the impact of
inputs (weight) on individual units and their connections in a neural network.
These networks change their inner structure due to the information which flows
through them, and memory is created by modifying the weight of the connections between neural units. Thus, neural networks are dynamic systems, and
connectionists try to explain cognitive activities as emergent properties of nonsymbolic processes. A basic tenet of connectionism is that, rather than serially
processing localized, propositional representations, the brain <loes parallel

processing of distributed representations. This poses a serious challenge to the

view of the mind as a symbol-crunching mechanism, a perspective which was
also basic to the classical paradigm of cognitive science. In connectionism, there
is nothing but a huge learning system, or set of learning systems (McClelland
1998), continuously modified through experience. Much of current research in
cognition makes it clear that appropriate behavior in complex situations (i.e.,
cognitive control) is the dynamic product of the interaction of several brain regions (O'Brien and Opie 1999) which process inputs continuously (Spivey 2007)
and in parallel, rather than in discrete, successive chunks.
Connectionism is not necessarily always seen as an alternative to the classical paradigm (Gomila and Calvo 2006), but it has certainly provided support
for other approaches which may indeed be real altematives and which often use
connectionism to explain the relationship between mind and brain. A growing
number of scholars think that the classical paradigm of cognitive science, which
only looks at what is going on inside the head, is not adequate to describe the
workings of the mind, and they call for a change of focus to study the dynamics
of the interaction among mind, body, and the environment. In the classical paradigm, low level processes such as perception were conceived of as independent
of high level processes (thinking, problem-solving), which arbitrarily generated
abstract symbols. Embodied and situated cognition coincide in their rejection of
this perspective and view cognition as a dynamic, self-organizing phenomenon
which uses ad hoc, constructed representations emerging from interaction and
experience (Varela, Thomson, and Rosch 1991).
Embodied cognition states that the bodies of cognitive agents have a crucial
role in the way the agents apprehend the world and the way they structure knowledge (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1999), because concepts are grounded in sensorimotor processes (Barsalou 2008). In other words, we think the way we do
because we do it with these bodies. 1 From this perspective, cognitive processes
happen in real-time environments and cognitive agents adapt and react to environmental challenges. Therefore, another claim of embodied cognition is that it is
situated (Wilson 2002: 627; Anderson 2003).

And also thanks to our ability to extend these processes to other domains by means of conceptual metaphors. These metaphors allow us to "reason about one kind of thing as if it were
another;" consequently, they can be viewed as grounded, inference-preserving, cross-domain
mappings (Lakoff and Nez 2000: 6). Conceptual metaphors are also crucial for theoretical
developments in translatology. For example, Martn (2005, 2008) convincingly argues that
unconscious use of the conduit metaphor (Reddy 1979) undermines the ReiB and Vermeer
(1984) and Holz-Manttari (1984) frameworks. The conduit metaphor is also present in widely
accepted terms in translatology, such as source text and target text.



Ricardo Muoz Martn

Situated cognition (Lave 1988) claims that human thought is adapted to the
environment in such a way that perception and action develop together: "much
of our thinking [ ... ] is devoted to interacting with the 'outsides: as opposed to operating on complex forros of representation and computation generated from the
'inside' (Friedenberg and Silverman 2006:444):' In other words, cognition takes
place in the context of inputs and outputs relevant to the task at han d. Early works,
such as Brooks ( 1991), contend that intelligent behavior is the consequence of the
embeddedness of the mind, rather than the product of internal representations.
Since the world guides behavior, there is no need for explicit representation. Today, situated views on mental representation are more tempered, internal repre-.
sentations are usually seen as:

often incomplete, partial, and context-sensitive, to be reconstructed rather than

reproduced, and by widening the representational realm outside the organismic
boundary (Wilson 2004). This leads us to expect that mnemonic stability is often
supported by heterogeneous externa! resources as well as, and in complementary
interaction with, neural resources.
(Sutton 2008: 229)
Internal representations "may thus be best understood as action-and-contextspecifi.c control structures" (Clark 1997: 51). So, "rather than attempt to mentally store and manipulate all the relevant details about a situation, we physically
store and manipulate those details out in the world, in the very situation itself"
(Wilson 2002: 629). In fact, Winograd and Flores (1986: 99) think that "experts
do not need to have formalized representations in order to act." The consequences of these views on the way translatology has so far dealt with notions such as
skopos, text type, and even problem-solving strategies, are simply overwhelming
and demand careful, thorough reflection.
When cognition is viewed as dependent on the environment, external states
may include objects and the symbolic processes of other people. This is distributed cognition (Hutchins 1995). Many cognitive processes are distributed across
the members of a social group, as in the case of scientific communities (Thagard
1993, 1994, 1997), and distributed cognition approaches might prove especially
important in the study of the way professional translators and translator trainees
work, when they act together to accomplish the complex task of creating a single,
communicative product. Collaborative action may still be viewed as just a special
case of several translation scenarios, such as in localization, but clients and revisers are present in most of today's translation commissions and their interplay may
also be studied from this perspective.
The considerations summarized above are the foundations upon which I
would like to make sorne suggestions for a cognitive translatological paradigm,
although sorne of the issues I will raise also apply to translatology in general.

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

Foundations for a cognitive translatology

The airo of translatology is to offer a realistic, detailed account
of a set of special, complex communicative events and their products
These communicative events are special because, unlike most others, they involve
the use of at least two languages. They are complex because, from the point of
view of translators (the cognitive agents under study), rather than involving two
parties, they entail at least three: author/speaker, translator/interpreter, andaddressee.2 Translators may see their role as that of participating in two monolingual communicative events, but these events usually integrate in their minds in
various ways when carrying out the task. Considerations about the communicative needs of translation addressees may drive or color the interpretation of the
original, and the result of interpreting the original may lead translators to behave
in peculiar ways when drafting their translations. This blending of the conceptual
structures associated with two communicative processes in two different languages is what characterizes the communicative processes of translation and interpreting as discrete, but comple:x: events.
Translatology should include cognitive approaches to account
for translation and interpreting
The mental activity of translators is a constant of ali human translation processes.
Focusing the study of translating on translators' mental activities is helpful in
reducing much of the enormous variation within translation activities and circumstances. Furthermore, studying cognition in translating may yield a body of
knowledge better fitted to survive social change, for there is no evidence to suggest that mental processes and activities such as sensory perception, abstraction,
comparison, association, and conceptual blending are very different today from
the way they were 10,000 years ago. There seem to be no expectations that there
will be major changes on the way the mind works in the future.

2. Today, participants in translation processes are usually many more: client, reviser, project
manager, other translators, etc., but many of them are common to other text production scenarios, such as publishing.



Ricardo Muoz Martn

Cognitive translatologies need to be based on scientific, empirical research

Translations are socially defi.ned products (Toury 1995a), and knowledge of
translation developed in universities is expected to improve in various ways the
welfare of the societies which host them. Translatology is foremost a utilitarian
knowledge domain devoted to improving the quality of translations, translation
production, and translator training. Thus, research must be firmly grounded in
observable translation reality. Demonstrating the psychological reality of entertained concepts and securing the ecological validity of the methods we use to
describe them are crucial to the development of the discipline. From an epistemological point of view, sorne may consider that translatology may not be an applied
science, but, nevertheless, empirical concerns such as psychological reality and
ecological validity, as well as more general properties of scientific knowledge such
as systematicity and generalizability, are fundamental for the development of a
sound translatology.
Cognitive translatologies need to make their account ofhuman
translation and accord with what is generally and currently known
about the mind and brain
This is an adaptation of Lakoff's ( 1990: 40) commitment for cognitive linguistics
and is critical to sustaining the coherence of any model of translation and cognition. It may well seem obvious, but the development of cognitive translatologies
may become seriously compromised by the unconscious reluctance to abandon
certain older disciplinary tenets, such as the distinction between semantics and
pragmatics, which have been proven false or are generally considered wrong in
current cognitive science. As indicated earlier, cognitive translatology needs to
move to consensus on a set of basic tenets and concepts and challenge those that
are outmoded. The new tenets of the discipline need to be consonant with the
fi.ndings of the other cognitive sciences (cf. Muoz in press a).
Cognitive translatologies are functionalist by definition
This inherent functionalism is because mental states are envisioned as tools people create dynamically to solve the problems they fi.nd in their interaction with the
environment (Block 1996), and not because the states are posited to describe or
understand the functional properties of the brain:
A functional analysis of the brain has very different results, depending on
whether it is applied to characterize the organism-in-its-environment or the

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

characteristics of modules. The first is an emergent, instrumental adaptation;

the second is an ascribed purpose. The first view is organic, developmental, and
evolutionary; the second is the view of the designer.
(Clancey 1997: 353)

This designer view may be associated with early translatological functionalism

(Holz-Manttari 1984; Rei:B and Vermeer 1984), where the translator was seen
as masterminding a plan to carry out a translation. As Risku (2002: 524) puts
it, in early functionalistic accounts, "persons and texts . . . must be considered
within a framework of action or actions, which allow them to develop their own
goals, functions, and intentions." From the perspective of inherent functionalism, however, goals and plans are secondary behavioral phenomena, because
they usually arise once actions have been started: "when situated action becomes
in sorne way problematic, rules and procedures are explicated for purposes of deliberation and the action, which is otherwise neither rule-based nor procedural,
is then made accountable to them" (Suchman 1987: 54). In other words, rather
than abstracting a few agents and objects from a complex, imaginary situation
in order to draft and carry out a logical plan, translators are seen as assigning
motives to their actions when they need to rationalize their behavior, usually
to justify what they dici (as with clients, supervisors, or in TAPs, or otherwise)
while solving translation problems.
It is interpretations, not texts or discourses, that are translated or interpreted
"Signals do something. They cannot contain anything" (Reddy 1979: 306). Meaning emerges from the interaction of mental processes (Churchland and Sejnowski
1992: 2) and is conferred to signals in every single communicative event, as
Wittgenstein (1953: 43) pointed out when he stated that the meaning of a word
is its use. In order to assign meaning to a stimulus, people actvate ali potentially
relevant stored information into their working memory (see context, in De Mey
1982). 3 The activated information and processes are not solely linguistic in nature,
so meaning is both conceptual and encyclopaedic (that is why language meaning). This approach entails that there will be infinite, though mostly
minor, variations in interpretations. Each act of understanding is unique and so
3. Usually, people actvate more information than necessary to understand a signal. Sorne
milliseconds later, an integration process discards ali irrelevant information (Gernsbacher
1990: 88-167), thus reinforcing the activation of the elements which cohere with other information already active and present in working memory. Hence, context may be thought of as
a filter, as in Gutt's usage (1991). But, whereas Gutt seems to think ofitas a predefined, fixed
entity, here context is seen as a dynamic process, which interactively evolves by integrating the
information already processed through bottom up processes (Lachat 1998).


176 Ricardo Muoz Martn

are, consequently, translations and interpretations. In order to create meaning,

speakers build, blend, and use concepts and structures they make by abstracting, comparing, and metaphorizing experience (Lakoff and Johnson 1980; Lakoff
1987; Johnson 1987). To do so, they depart from very similar bodily experiences,
and they also modify these concepts constantly through social interaction, mainly
thanks to the social tool oflanguage. So, there are indeed limits to interpretation.
From ali this, it foliows that there is no difference between form and content and
semantic and pragmatic meaning (Langacker 1987: 154-166; Givn 1989:323).
Therefore, distinctions such as denotative-connotative and concepts such as
"sense" have no room in the framework of a cognitive translatology, for they lack
psychological reality.
Translating is an interpersonal activity
"There is no culture in books or libraries ... indeed, there is no culture at ali unless it is reconstructed carefuliy and painstakingly in the living brains of each new
generation'' (Reddy 1979: 309). The stored information or knowledge base (idioculture) each person departs from is unique, but at the same time quite similar to
that of other people within their social network and informational reach because
much of it is leveled through socialization, and is dynamically modified over
time through interaction. Thus, culture cannot be viewed as an entity (DiMaggio
1997), let alone divided into culturemes (cf. Vermeer 1983:8 vs. Codde 2003). It
is located in the minds of individuals interacting with one another. Thus, Martn
(2005, 2008) suggests the use of the concepts of scaffolding (Clark 1997) and cultural model (Quinn and Holland 1987) instead of culture. This conceptual shift
from the cultural to the interpersonal necessarily motivates a new perspective on
translating, which is no longer be viewed as an "intercultural" phenomenon, since
that perspective has a tendency to distort interpretation of the empirical data by
imposing a view of translational phenomena that is prone to producing overgeneralizations and oversimplifications.
Translating is a form of creative imitation
The traditional rejection of imitatio in translation studies might spring from the
lesser value ascribed to it when compared to inventio in rhetoric, as in the works
of Quintilian and Horace. Inventio is associated with creativity and "is commonly considered to be a mysterious element possessed by a select 'gifted few"'
(Nierenberg 1982: 3). Moorman and Ram (1994: 8-10) define creativity as "a directed, interna! process of a cognitive agent which results in an artifact which is

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

both novel and useful."4 Damasio (2001) holds that information processing has
an impact on creativity, Langacker (1987) claims that understanding is creative,
and Dowd (1989) states that creativity fosters lateral or divergent thinking and
allows people to view problems under different scopes. Thus, translating is no
doubt a creative enterprise. But there is no contradiction in stating that, at the
same time, it is basically an imitative endeavor.
Readers typically use original texts to build conceptual structures which relate to the world as they envision it in that moment and situation. Translations
may be expected to meet additional demands: readers often expect that they portray or reproduce the symbolic coding of the original text as well. This is usually
so in literary translation, where readers want "a flavor of the style" of the author
of the original, but also in political and legal translation, where translations are
expected to inform about the original text in sorne detail. In these cases, translators use original texts as models to imitate in their new versions in other languages. Nevertheless, imitation is not restricted to such intentional actions when
translating specific kinds of texts. Translators are assumed to enter into deeper
mental processing strategies, namely, problem-solving and decision-taking,
only when direct, proceduralized formulations do not seem successful (Muoz
1994, 1995: 177-181; Toury 1995b: 191-192; Tirkkonen-Condit 2005), and many
of those unproblematic renderings tend to reproduce the symbolic codification
of the corresponding text segments in the original, language permitting. Thus,
translating usually entails imitating the original, and it is creative at least sometimes because imitation is not always possible, not only due to linguistic disparity, but also because the translations are to be used by different addressees in
new communicative events. Crucially, creativity can be learned and developed
(Cook 1998; Gehani 1998), and learning how to translate may be seen as steering
creativity through imitation, within the constraints of conventions and norms
(Toury 1988).
Translation expertise implies the continuous development of natural
cognitive skills
Translation expertise <loes not develop on a blank page for each person. Translating is a complex behavior (De Groot 2000) with many simpler behavioral components, sorne of which translators have developed to various degrees long before
they even started translating, such as reading, writing, and building and blending

4. There is no room here to take issue on the internal nature of creativity, as situated and distributed cognition would do, but see, for instance, Csikszentmihalyi (1996).



Ricardo Muoz Martn

conceptual structures. So, translation is not acquired from scratch, but arises because people develop their existing cognitive abilities to meet new ecological (social, interactional) demands (Berry 1987; Smith and Gasser 2005). The capacityto
translate, to mean the same thing in another language, is born at the very moment
people learn a word in that second language, probably as a natural extension of
intra-language rewording (Muoz in press b ). In this sense, it is a natural skill that
everybody is likely to possess, and not only bilinguals (cf. Harris 1977). Of course,
this <loes not mean that professional quality translation can be achieved easily
since it implies, at least, amassing "world knowledge;' learning a large, diffuse set
of conventions and norms, acquiring instrumental skills in the tools of the trade,
and also optimizing mental activities to carry out the tasks efficiently and in an
economical, profitable way. That is why both situated learning and feedback are
so important for developing translation expertise, and that, of course, is the basic
justification of translator training programs.
On the other hand, skills also vary in professionals over long periods beyond the magic ten years of continuous, relevant practice. Professionals will keep
adapting their complex behavior as long as they translate, so there is no end to
developing expertise. Thus, the state of expertise in a person can be thought of as
a function of personal background and task exposure, and there are probably as
many versions of expertise as experts in the field. Of course, there must be aspects
common to all of them, as expertise studies in different areas have shown. But
we still do not know what expert translators are (Pym 1994) and what may be
considered their defining characteristics, so the study of expertise should be a top
priority for any cognitive translatology.
Cognitive translatology should focus on the interaction between
translators and their environment
The notion of translation process may be understood at three levels. First, it may
refer to a fundamental level comprised of sets of mental states and operations
which play a role when translating and the ways they are constructed and carried out. At the second level, it may also be used to encompass the variable set of
sub-tasks and observable operations when a person translates, such as reading,
writing, using information resources, computing, revising and proofreading, and,
sometimes, designing, printing, or publishing (cf. Gouadec 2005). These two levels of translation processes are closely related, since basic mental mechanisms and
operations cannot be directly observed, but may be hypothesized from observed
behavior at the higher level. They should not be confused, though, for they lead to
different perspectives on mental events and their interaction. For example, while

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

mental activities of evaluation may be present in observable operations such as

reading and formulating renditions, the latter behaviors entail other mental operations as well.
The second level view of translating as self-contained sets of recursive, goaloriented, conscious tasks, such as text reading, searching and retrieving information, typing, revising and the like, <loes not always properly reflect the state
of affairs at a real workplace, so we might benefit from adopting a third level
perspective, where the translation process can be understood as the period commencing from the moment the client contacts the translator and ending when the
translation reaches the addressee, or when the translator is paid (cf. Cantor et al.
2005). Real market circumstances may introduce important variations, such as
more planning and coordination, fragmenting the original, providing and imposing terminology resources, using CAT tools, proofreading or editing by a third
party, or simply overwriting the new text onto the original. Many translators in
teamwork projects tend to rely on their colleagues for solving problems, or look
for a common strategy in order to consistently <leal with specifics in that project.
Hence, under this scope, translating includes the roles and cognitive contributions of all co-workers in-the chain for the production of the final communicative
product, their relationships and interaction, and additional tasks, such as project
management or billing. These circumstances could be addressed from the point
of view of distributed cognition. In any case, research at this third level should
certainly not be set aside, for deeper knowledge of market conditions might lead
to improvements in the ecological validity of experimental settings.
The suggestions sketched above were necessarily brief to leave sorne room to
consider the second meaning of paradigm, mentioned in the introduction, which
I would like to address below.

Benchmarking cognitive translatologies

In the behavioral sciences, experimental paradigm is used to mean the ways certain experiments are carried out, so paradigm here refers to concrete procedural
standards. Usually, an experimental paradigm is associated with a certain theoretical basis commonly shared by the researchers, who use it even when trying to
disprove it. However, in translation process research, group and subject classification, data collection procedures, definition of variables, and interpretation of results sometimes still rely on assumed translatological common knowledge or truisms which may be simply shrugged off when challenged. For example, concept
definitions, especially, operational definitions, are basic tools for research, but
when there exist many different definitions which do not compete in the research



Ricardo Muoz Martn

arena (as scientific concepts must) this hints ata certain immaturity in the :field
of research. Theory and research interdependence in translatology is as necessary
as elsewhere (Dancette and Mnard 1996) and it urgently needs to be fostered,
so that the mutual bene:ficial feedback of concept formation, model-building and
empirical research can be restored. 5 After ali,
Theory formation within Translation Studies has never been an end in itself. Its
object has always been to lay a sound basis and supply an elaborate frame of
reference for controllable studies into actual behaviour and its results, and the
ultimate test of theory is its capacity to do that service.
(Toury 1988: 11)

Different approaches to empirical translatology point to the need for establishing sorne common experimental paradigms which should gain acceptance from
experimental translation scholars. 6 In any case, a new cognitive theoretical paradigm in translatology might help to improve research design, and experimental
studies should lead to the development of improved cognitive theories of translating. In other words, we should start benchmarking cognitive translatologies.
Benchmarking, in this context, should be understood as establishing general research standards against which individual research projects can be evaluated.
Theoretical paradigms impose sorne constraints on research methods, and
the one proposed here is not an exception. For instance, cognitive psychology
rejects introspection, and cognitive philosophy also casts doubts on it, since there
are only a few phenomena which are clearly conscious or unconscious and the
grey area in between is larger than the clear-cut cases at each extreme (Baars
1988). Cognitive translatology might bene:fit instead from considering consciousness and unconsciousness as two poles in a continuum, especially since parts of
the stream of thought are not (totally) conscious or controlled, and hence retrospective rationalizations include a great <leal of construction. According to Boring
(1953:s.p., apudBaars 1988:17-18),

The internal history of the field of automated and assisted translation, which is the story of
a series of trial-and-error attempts to apply successive theoretical models (cf. Akman 2000), is
a good example. In automated translation, new applications were developed at each stage, but
also new, more realistic models, even if today sorne of them still co-exist: rule models, lexical
and grammatical models, semantic models, statistical and knowledge-based systems.

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

Human consciousness is an inferred construct, a capacity as inferential as any

of the other psychological realities, ... literally immediate observation, the introspection that cannot lie, <loes not exist. All observation is a process that takes
time and is subject to error in the course of its occurrence.

This view brings to mind again the problems of TAPs in translation research.
TAPs have been very useful for a generation of pioneering scientific researchers.
They have helped us build most of our current knowledge on translation processes, and they are still useful for pilot, orientational, and qualitative studies.
But methodological problems (Bernardini 1999, 2001; Li 2004), together with
criticism on the validity of the protocols for translating applications (Toury 1991;
Sguinot 1996), undermine their status as a viable procedure for data collection in
empirical translation process research today, even when they are combined with
sorne other collection procedures, such as keyboard logging (Jakobsen 2003).
The status of immediate retrospection in experimental subjects is also unclear, since we do not know whether they are still tapping the same mental structures they used when translating, or whether post hoc construction" is already
heavily at work in their account. Retrospective data should probably not be used
as indirect indicators ofhow processes actually happened, but asan excellent way
to study the way subjects construct what happened in their minds when they were
translating. This could shed light on the way translators envision their tasks. Correlations between systematic views of the translation tasks and behavioral routines, cognitive styles, and product results might help us to learn about the relationships between the conceptualization of the task, the quality of the product,
and the development of translation expertise. Research strategies such as those
used in Gentner and Gentner (1982), who observed the effects of different metaphorical conceptualizations on problem solving, might be good models to look at
for a breakthrough in this area.
Another point at which theoretical considerations impact research methods
is the notion of ecological validity. Neisser (1976, 1987) and other researchers
rightly pointed out that many experiments in cognitive psychology only apply to
laboratory circumstances, and we should try to make sure that this <loes not happen in translatology. If results from non-ecological testing are doubtful in science,
they are of equal concern in the stl;ldy of translation. 7 For example, the notion
of translating a whole text without interruptions for research purposes tends to
prompt researchers to use originals which are far shorter than the average text

6. Needless to say, not all empirical translatologists may be interested in a cognitive para-

digmas a basis. Such might be the case for corpora studies. Nevertheless, the wealth of data
in process research is turning test results into corpora and will make it necessary to build an
interface between them. The corpus CORPRAT of the LETRA Lab (UFMG) is an initiative
avant-la-lettre in this direction. The Transcomp Research Group (Univ. Graz) has also developed a notation system to codify process data from TAPs.

7. And, in this proposal, they may be deemed as nonsensical. This does not imply, however,
that complex research designs may not use lab type strategies to collect additional data to crossreference with naturalistic data collection activities which should constitute the base for predicating possible causal relationships.



Ricardo Muoz Martn

length in real commissions, and differences between long and short translation
tasks still remain to be accounted for.
Theoretical frameworks also suggest new research topics or foster new interest on areas which may have previously been deemed uninteresting. Proceduralization is a case in point. Problem-solving has been one of the main foci of
research in the last decades in translatology, and differing approaches have shared
the notion of the translation process as a series of alternating mental activities or
ways of processing:
In the translation process of any individual, there are segments which are translated apparently automatically, without any problems, and other segments where
the translation is slow, full of many variants and deliberations, which necessitates
a problem solving approach and the application of strategies.
(Englund-Dimitrova 2005: 26)

There seems to be an emerging consensus that the problem-solving process benefits from the cognitive resources freed by proceduralized routines. Furthermore,
unproblematic renditions still entail judgments by translators, so there must be
evaluations that call into question the proposed, straight-through renderings
in the process. Under this perspective, unproblematic text segments are at least
as interesting as those where problem-solving strategies are applied, because
translators have been acting and cognizing in both. And, since each translation
problem represents a unique constellation of features, as perceived by a given
person in a given moment, stored knowledge about translating is more visible in
the unproblematic (recurrent) formulations. This, of course, <loes not mean that
problem-solving is not important. lt only points out that shifting disciplinary
attention to also include a focus on proceduralized and "unconscious" processes
might be useful.
Interiorizing procedures and storing solutions found in previous, comparable experiences also seems to be an important feature oflearning how to translate
and of developing translation expertise. But expertise should not be approached
in a winner-takes-all fashion, where novices and experts of assumed similar
skills are compared. Professionals vary in their abilities throughout their working lives, and changes in topic domain may place them sorne steps behind their
usual performance level. Trainees probably follow unique paths to develop their
expertise, due to their personal histories, with many intermediate stages which
can be metaphorically likened to those in the acquisition oflanguage command
(interlingua). Hence, if translation expertise is to be explored, we should adopt
a developmental perspective and think of it as a continuum with many facets
(not modules!). Correlations between types of problems and solutions and the
quality of results might be tested and associated to stages in the development of

On paradigms and cognitive translatology

translation expertise. Longitudinal studies (e.g., Schmidt 2005; Hansen 2008;

PACTE, 8 and TransComp, 9 in progress) might help to investigate the way expertise develops in trainees and other subjects, by tracing the development of
task proceduralization and the internalization of problem-solving routines for
certain types of problems.
To sorne, the ten principies 1 have suggested may have felt like just a taste
of what current cognitive approaches may offer to translatology, whereas other
readers may simply think there was not much new to be found in them. They are
certainly not written in stone. But 1 agree with Sampson (1980: 10) that "by far
the greatest danger in scholarship . . . is not that the individual may master the
thought of a school but that a school may succeed in mastering the thought of an
individual;' and these principies may have far-reaching influence if they become
ingrained in our logical thought about translation, and not just read and put aside
as we keep carrying out business as usual. As for the second stance, Tabakowska
(1993: 20) wrote something about the application of cognitive linguistics to translation that 1 think applies to cognitive translatology in general: its merit "<loes not
consist in making new discoveries, but in offering a theoretical framework for a
systematic and coherent description of old and well-grounded intuitions:' Theories can only be improved or disproved through experimental research, so it is
high time to agree on sorne common, basic procedures to re-establish the normal
relationship between them.

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