ANALYSIS ON THE COGNITION PROCESS AND TEACHING REFORM OF ENGLISH TRANSLATION BASED ON THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

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Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica 2020, Vol. XXIX, N°1, 1099-1105

DOI: 10.24205/03276716.2020.156 1099

A

NALYSIS ON THE

C

OGNITION

P

ROCESS AND

T

EACHING

R

EFORM OF

E

NGLISH

T

RANSLATION

B

ASED ON THE

T

HEORY OF

C

OGNITIVE

P

SYCHOLOGY

Yi Wei

*

Abstract

In China, teachers of English translation often focus too much on the translation result, ignoring the translation process. In fact, the translation process is critical to the translation quality. To make up for the gap, this paper explores the translation process and the teaching reform of translation education from the perspective of cognitive psychology. Students with different English proficiency and memory levels were selected to take the English translation tests, and were divided into several groups for translation cognition experiment. The experimental data were analyzed to see if the psychological cognition features of the students

agree with Bell’s translation process model. The author also discussed the functions of long-term memory and working memory in the translation process. The results show that different translators have different levels of psychological cognition, which directly affects the translation results; the working memory and long-term memory also differ in their functions in the translation process. Several suggestions were thus put forward for the teaching reform of English translation in Chinese colleges. The results are of great significance to improve the English translation level of Chinese college students.

Key words: Cognitive Psychology, English Translation, Bell’s Translation Process Model, Teaching Reform.

Received: 26-03-19 | Accepted: 19-07-19

INTRODUCTION

With the further expansion of the breadth and depth of China's international exchanges, English translation talents are needed in many fields such as international engineering projects, cultural exchanges, and legal affairs. The English translation teaching in colleges and universities in China is in a subsidiary position in the English teaching system which takes listening, speaking, reading and writing as the main contents. The English translation teaching pays too much attention to the evaluation and description of translation products, while ignoring the analysis of the production process of the translation

Foreign Languages Department, Shijiazhuang Tiedao University, Shijiazhuang 050043, China.

E-Mail: weiyiweoi@163.com

products, resulting in poor teaching effects, and

college students’ translation ability is generally

weak (Leong, Lee, Ching et al., 2017; Tou, 2000).

Under the impetus of supply and demand, China's colleges and universities have gradually carried out researches on the reform and innovation of English comprehensive translation teaching system, aiming at improving the effect of translation teaching so as to provide more talents with excellent translation skills to the society (Xia & Andrews, 2015).

The translation process of translation products in

the translators’ brain is essentially a psychological

cognition process of translators which plays a decisive role in the quality of the translation products. In the study of translation theory: scholars have repeatedly emphasized that the understanding and mastery of the translation process is the cornerstone for the improvement of translation

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quality; some scholars believe that translation work is an important practice of language psychology; some scholars applied constructivism to translation

teaching and conducted relevant practical

researches. Based on the researches of scholars in the industry, this paper aims to demonstrate the

Bell’s translation process model through translation teaching experiment, and to explore the relevance of translators' psychological cognition level and the translation quality (Ulvydiene, 2013; Grze, Hoey, Khan et al., 2014).

Based on the cognitive psychology theory and the qualitative analysis of the Bell’s translation

process model, this paper designs the following empirical experiment: the experimental subjects are 100 non-English major and English major college students; the content of the experiment includes four translation-related sub-items, and the experimental methods are translation tests of various forms and interviews with subjects, at last, the experiment results were summarized, analyzed, and compared with the experimental hypothesis to

conclude the corresponding experimental

conclusions. At the same time, based on the

research results, this paper proposes

countermeasures for the poor teaching effect of English translation in China.

PSYCHOLOGICAL COGNITION AND

TRANSLATION PROCESS

Translation psychological process

The translation process from the original text to the translated text is like the black box of the aircraft. In translation research, different methods have been applied to analyze the working mode of black box so as to improve the quality of the translation products. Translation studies is no longer a separate discipline that is affiliated to the language subject. Since people are the main bodies of translation studies and the translation process is closely related to people's psychological activities, translation studies have become a multi-discipline that involves psychology, cognitive psychology, and brain neurology, etc. (Cramer, Perrine, Devinsky et al., 1998; Shu, 2018).

The process of psychological cognition is the information analyzing and processing process of human brain based on self-cognition. The psychological process of translation is similar to the

cognition process. Through original text

interpretation, analysis, phrase conversion,

language organization, adjustment and other steps, the information is output in the form of translated text. The psychological cognition process of translation is like the information decoding-alternate coding-encoding process in the computer, and the difference is that the translation process is influenced by multiple factors such as the

translator’s cultural and political background,

emotions, and knowledge reserves, etc.

Figure 1

.

Bell’s translation process model

Translation original Sentence

Vocabulary recognition system

Parser and vocabulary search

High frequency vocabulary storage

Semantics Analyzer

Discourse

mode Discourse style

Discourse range Memory system

Structure

Context

Semantic expression Meaning organizer

Planner

Purpose

Writing system

Parser and vocabulary search

High frequency vocabulary storage

Semantics Analyzer

Discourse

mode Discourse style

Discourse range

Content

Style

Target language

Next

Whether to translate?

Yes

No

Linear string Structure

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ANALYSIS ON THE COGNITION PROCESS OF ENGLISH TRANSLATION BASED ON THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY 1101

Bell’s translation process model

The Bell’s translation process model is a theory that systematically explains the translation process and it is widely quoted around the globe. Exploring the Bell’s translation process model from a psychological perspective can better reflect the relationship between psychological cognition and

translation process. Figure 1 shows the Bell’s

translation process model.

From the translation model, it can be seen that the translation process from the original text to the translated text is a top-down and bottom-up text information processing process. The translation process is carried out in the context of the translator's working memory and long-term memory (Hvelplund, 2011). The memory theory based on cognitive psychology holds that working memory is the temporary storage of information during cognitive processing, it belongs to the category of short-term memory, and it is also the activated part of long-term memory. In the translation cognition process, the translator's working memory plays a role in planning and monitoring the coding and storage of information (Brehaut & Eva, 2012). In short, in the translation cognition process, the combined action of working memory and long-term memory promotes the conversion from original text to the translated text (Cowan, 2008).

EMPIRICAL EXPERIMENT ON TRANSLATION COGNITION

Purpose of the experiment

This paper aims to achieve the following purposes through empirical experiment: (1) to analyze the consistency of the student translation process with the Bell translation process, and to analyze the role of the psychological process in translation; (2) to understand the segmentation effect of the memory system in the translation process; (3) to understand the importance of psychological cognition for the translation process.

Subjects

In order to better compare the differences in the translation cognition process, students with different English proficiency and memory levels were selected to take the English translation tests, and they were divided into several groups: English major academy school student group, non-English major sophomore student group, English major undergraduate student group, and English major

postgraduate student group. All subjects

volunteered to participate in the translation cognition experiment, after screening, the number of participants in each group was 25.

Experimental methods

(1) Test methods. Select 5 English paragraphs with moderate difficulty to test the subjects in the following four ways: 1) Quick translation test, distribute the paragraphs to be translated to the subjects, let them read the English paragraphs within 1 minute, then retrieve the paragraphs and ask the subjects to translate it by memory; 2) The cloze test, delete some prepositions and high-frequency nouns in the English translation paragraphs and then test the subjects using the cloze test; 3) Sentence order test, after disrupting the sentence sequence of the English paragraphs, the subjects were required to adjust the order and translate; 4) The second-time translation test, the subjects were asked to translate the same English paragraph again. The first two tests of the experiment are the vocabulary analysis system class verification test in the Bell’s translation process

model, and the latter two are the writing system class verification test in the Bell’s translation process

model.

(2) Face-to-face interview survey. At the end of each experiment, the subjects were interviewed: they were asked about the major problems they encountered in the translation tests; and whether

their instantaneous memory or long-term

accumulated English translation knowledge plays a major role in their translation process. Based on face-to-face interviews, the subjective psychological state of the subjects after the experiment was further verified for the validity of the Bell translation model.

Experiment steps

Before the experiment, the subjects were given a brief of the content of the experiment, and they were asked to keep a normal mental state and participate in the experiment. For the experiment time of the 4 sub-tests, the translation test time was 1 min, 3min, 3min, and 15min, respectively. During the experiment, a total of 10 test assistants helped to distribute the test questions and calculate the test results. The subjects in each group participated in the sub-tests in sequence.

Experiment result statistics

According to the experimental groups, the results of the sub-tests and the psychological interviews were calculated.

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(1) English major academy school student group. (2) Non-English major sophomore student group. (3) English major undergraduate student group. (4) English major postgraduate student group. (5) Translation test score trend chart. In order to better analyze the role of working memory and long-term memory of the subjects in their English translation scores, the English translation scores of the subjects in the four groups were calculated and the change trends are shown in Figure 2. (6) Psychological characteristics of subjects in each group. The working memory and long-term memory were taken as criteria to evaluate the psychological state of the subjects in the experiment, the statistics shown in Figure 3 are the situation of the working memory and long-term memory of subjects in each group.

Figure 2

.

Trends in English translation

results

Table 1.

English major academy school students’ translation test results statistics

Experimental

items Fast translation test Cloze test Sentence order test Second-time translation test

Translation test statistics

6% (gives a meaningful answer)

15% of students are correct in lyrics

10% of student sentences are sorted correctly

52% of students can translate paragraphs correctly Psychological

interview

At the time of the first translation, all students thought that the translation was difficult, and 50% of the students could rely on short-term working memory to answer the vacancy test.

Table 2.

Non-English major

sophomore students’ translation test results statistics

Experimental

items Fast translation test Cloze test Sentence order test Second-time translation test

Translation test statistics

25% (gives a meaningful answer)

34% of students are correct in lyrics

38% of student sentences are sorted correctly

67% of students can translate paragraphs correctly Psychological

interview

At the time of the first translation, over 90% students thought that the translation was difficult, and 55% of the students could rely on short-term working memory to answer the vacancy test.

Table 3.

English major undergraduate students’ translation test results statistics

Experimental

items Fast translation test Cloze test Sentence order test Second-time translation test

Translation test statistics

50% (gives a meaningful answer)

70% of students are correct in lyrics

73% of student sentences are sorted correctly

85% of students can translate paragraphs correctly

Psychological interview

At the time of the first translation, 53% students thought that the translation was difficult, and 90% of the students could rely on short-term working memory to answer the vacancy test. Words have multiple meanings

that take more time to search for appropriate contextual meaning

Table 4.

English major postgraduate students’ translation test results statistics

Experimental

item Fast translation test Cloze test Sentence order test Second-time translation test

Translation test statistics

90% (gives a meaningful answer)

95% of students are correct in lyrics

95% of student sentences are sorted correctly

99% of students can translate paragraphs correctly

Psychological interview

It is not difficult to translate English essays in English. The vocabulary knowledge accumulated in the past can also complete the test of filling in the blanks. In the translation process, the translation can be made smoother

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ANALYSIS ON THE COGNITION PROCESS OF ENGLISH TRANSLATION BASED ON THE THEORY OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY 1103

Figure 3

.

Working memory and long-term

Analysis of experimental results

For the English major academy school students,

since their basic knowledge level and

comprehensive quality are relatively low, their scores in the sub-tests of the translation experiment

are the lowest, it’s because their basic English

knowledge reserve is insufficient and their long-term memory ability is worse. However, from the improvement of the translation scores of each sub-test, it can be seen that the repeated presentation of vocabulary and sentences will stimulate students' working memory to a certain extent, which has embodied the Bell translation process.

For non-English major sophomore students, they have better short-term memory and working memory, and their non-English major has restricted their basic English abilities, therefore their performance in the translation tests is average, indicating that the English translation requires good long-term memory and working memory to achieve better English translation results.

For English major undergraduate students, after the two-years English major training in colleges, they have a better foundation in short-term memory and long-term memory, and can achieve good results in various sub-tests of the translation experiment. Especially in terms of reasonable application of vocabulary and the organization of syntactic structure, they have certain improvements compared with non-English major students.

As for the English major postgraduate students, the depth and breadth of their English foundation have already reached a certain level, after systematic psychological training, their translation cognition process is basically consistent with the

Bell’s translation process model. The working

memory and the long-term memory can work together to make it easier for the subjects to complete the translation and achieve better results. Through the above experiments, it can be preliminarily concluded that there is a gradual process in people's translation process, analyzing vocabulary and sentences can further deepen their understanding of the original text, which will have a good promotion effect on the production of the final translated text. This process is generally consistent with the Bell translation model which presents the psychological process of the whole translation in detail. For different people, their translation psychological process is basically the same. Although the results are different, the working memory would exert certain function and have an impact on the final test results based on the long-term memory. The first and second steps of the experiment show the vocabulary search stage in the Bell model. At this stage, with long-term memory as the basis, working memory plays a leading role in the impact on the final results. The third and fourth steps of the experiment show the writing system of the Bell model (Mcbride, Giuliani, Choi et al., 2000). At this stage, working memory and long-term memory act on each other, and the long-term memory plays a bigger role. According to the experimental results, working memory can counteract on long-term memory and achieve better results through training.

TRANSLATION TEACHING REFORM

SUGGESTIONS BASED ON PSYCHOLOGICAL

COGNITION EXPERIMENT

At present, there are five main problems in college English translation teaching in China, such as incomplete curriculum setting, single teaching content, outdated teaching mode, less qualified faculty, low learning interest of students, etc. The improvement of the overall English translation ability of college students needs to be based on the reform of the English translation teaching system, and aims to comprehensively improve the English level of English and non-English major students. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are the comprehensive English abilities in the subconscious of college students, while translation is an important part of English comprehensive ability, but it is often ignored. As the main bodies of college teaching organization activities, schools should pay more attention to English translation teaching: enrich the English translation teaching mode, improve the reform and upgrading of translation textbooks, enhance the translation teaching ability of the

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faculty, and actively cultivate students' interest in learning (Smith & Southerland, 2007).

To analyze the translation process from the perspective of psychological cognition, the translation process is considered as a process of knowledge accumulation. Good translation products need to accumulate knowledge in all aspects, not just translation skills and vocabulary size. In translation teaching process, the cultivation of students' long-term memory and interests in active memory are especially important. Through multiple teaching methods and context setting, students' deep understanding and memory of vocabulary and grammatical structure can be deepened so as to improve their long-term memory, and their short-term working memory can be improved through their own memory exercises.

CONCLUSIONS

In the college English teaching system, the English translation teaching is in a margin position, and most translation studies focus on the evaluation of the quality of translation products, often ignoring the importance of the translation process. The process of English translation is the process of translator's psychological cognition. The analysis of this process is of great significance to improve the level of English translation and the quality of translation products. This paper combined scholars' researches on the translation process theory to

empirically demonstrate the Bell’s translation

process model. Through the analysis of the

experimental results, the corresponding

experimental conclusions were obtained and the suggestions for the reform of English translation teaching system in colleges and universities in China were proposed as follows:

(1) This paper designed 4 sub-tests to verify the consistency of the translation process with the Bell’s

translation process model, the translator's psychological cognition process has a decisive influence on translation.

(2) In the process of English translation, the memory system is subdivided into working memory and long-term memory, and for translators with different English translation levels, their working memory and long-term memory are different as well. Working memory and long-term memory together have an effect on the quality of the translation products.

(3) The essence of the translation process is the process of psychological cognition. The reform of translation teaching needs to be based on the

understanding of students' psychological cognition activities. Triggering students' interests and initiative in learning, improving the teaching quality of the faculty, and increasing the emphasis on translation teaching are necessary conditions for the reform of translation teaching in colleges and universities in China.

Acknowledgement

This study was supported by 2018-2019 Research and Practice Project of Teaching Reform of

Higher Education of Hebei Province. Title: “Research

of the Translation Course Reform of English Major against the Background of Constructing the

Discourse System of China’s Engineering Technology”

(2018GJJG231).

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