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Thinking About Thinking: Meta-awareness in Translation Studies and Its Cognitive Significance

Posted By admin On 09:36 AM In Past Events 2018-19 | Comments Disabled

2017/2018 School of Chinese Research Students Seminar

Thinking About Thinking: Meta-awareness in Translation Studies and Its Cognitive Significance

Li Sen 李森

March 9 (Friday); 5:30-6:45pm
Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: English

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence comes the question: are we going to be replaced by machines one day and can AI do what we do? As debates rage on over the uniqueness of human expertise, scholars are now looking closely at what makes human knowledge indispensable in light of the rapid growth of AI. In the field of Translation Studies, machine translation has stirred up discussions over the need of human translation in the future. This has incentivized translation scholars to shift focus from traditional textual analysis to psycholinguistic analysis to understand what distinguishes human translation from machine translation on a cognitive level. According to the Encyclopedia of Human Memory, metacognition (hereon referred to as meta-awareness) means the ability to think about thinking and beware of one’s own awareness in humans and still remains a major issue in Artificial Intelligence. As translation is a multistage, cross-linguistic process within “a complex cognitive network of knowledge, abilities and strategies,” it is necessary for translators to regularly assess their own translation strategies and language proficiency to achieve maximum equivalence. Moreover, because domain-specific knowledge is directly correlated with better performance and determines what type of tasks translators can undertake, they are uniquely positioned to constantly update and maintain their sense of expertise. To put it simply, seasoned professionals often think about how to think about translation and know they are experts. This then begs the following questions: how do translators find the best mode of thinking when translating a specific genre and style? Is it a unique human experience? What does a sense of expertise do to their comprehension of the task? Can we apply meta-awareness to machine translation to boost its efficiency? For my project, I am curious to find out if this complex way of thinking can be wielded to establish the unique position of humans as the creator and innovator of language as well as language research, and if this can benefit AI studies in the future. The end goal is to demonstrate how higher-level cognitive processes such as meta-awareness can be applied to translation and how it influences translation activities. In the first part of this research project, I will apply psychoanalysis to the translation of traumatic texts to illustrate how meta-awareness of the psychological rationale behind the specific style in which trauma literature has been written determines whether such a style is translated faithfully. In part two, the application of meta-awareness will be examined under an experimental setting to explain if professional meta-awareness of linguistic and translation ability as induced by a translation task will alter the participants’ comprehension of the same task.

隨著人工智能的到來,人類專業技能的獨特性成為爭論焦點。在翻譯學領域,機器翻譯的出現使人工翻譯的地位岌岌可危。因此,翻譯學者們逐漸把目光從傳統的文本、語言分析轉移至心理語言學分析。從認知的角度來闡釋人工翻譯與機器翻譯之間的差異。根據人類記憶百科的定義,“元思考” 指對思考產生的思考,是一種對思維方式的反思。然而,人工智能在靈活運用元思考的能力上仍存在諸多局限性。由於翻譯是多環節,跨語言的活動,並涉及到一系列複雜的知識結構、能力與技巧。譯者們不得不經常反思自己的翻譯策略,思維模式和語言表達能力,以保證翻譯的 ”信,達,雅,”。不僅如此,因專業知識的多少直接決定翻譯的質量及譯者的工作範圍,譯者們自然會時常更新並保持自己身為某領域、甚至多領域翻譯專家的自我定位。簡單來說,資深的譯者經常反思翻譯時該用什麼技巧、什麼思考方式,並清楚地知道自己具備一定專業能力。這便引發一系列問題:譯者如何在反思翻譯策略時針對不同的風格和體裁來選擇合適的翻譯思維模式?只有人類具備這種反思能力嗎?對於專業能力的自我認知是否會影響譯者對於翻譯文本的理解?我們是否可以將元思考應用到人工智能領域?從如上問題出發,本論文將把元思考的概念作為考證人類知識獨特性的工具,以證實人類在語言發展和語言研究方面的不可替代性,同時解釋元思考在翻譯領域的價值及其對翻譯活動的影響。論文第一部分將從心理分析的角度,以余華的創傷文學為例,分析譯者應如何利用元思考的概念反思自己的翻譯思維模式,在翻譯該體裁時對於其寫作風格及特點背後的心理因素加以分析,以保證該文體譯文的忠實度。第二部分將以實驗的方式,在指定的筆譯及閱讀測試之背景下,闡述譯者作為專家的自我意識如何激發其在翻譯策略及語言能力上的反思和自我評估,以探討這種元思考式的反思、自我評估如何影響譯者對原文的理解。


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