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Tackling long sentence translation in the classroom: a study to investigate the usefulness of a systemic functional linguistics-based approach in teaching English-Chinese translation

Thursday 29 September 2022, 8-9pm Sydney, 11am-12pm UK, (10-11am GMT)
Zoom (link provided to EATPA network members)


Long sentence translation is a common challenge for English-Chinese translation students. While existing proposed solutions including segmenting a sentence and changing hypotaxis to parataxis are effective in describing what is needed when translating, they are not prescriptive enough for the translation student to use. As a result, students often feel tied up with the source text, producing translations that are unnatural in the target language. To tackle this challenge, a pedagogical approach based on the notion of logical meaning from systemic functional linguistics (SFL) has been used in a postgraduate English-Chinese translation classroom in Australia. With a focus on clausal connection, this approach has been found to be able to help motivate more translation shifts and produce more effective translations. In this talk, I will introduce what this approach was, how it worked, how it improved the students’ translations, and what the student participants thought about this approach. Although the study looked at English to Chinese translations, the approach can also work in other language pairs with typological differences in syntax structure.

Speaker’s Bio

Alisa Tian is an Associate Lecturer of Translation and Interpreting and PhD candidate in translation pedagogy at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She has been an active translation/interpreting practitioner and educator since 2010, specialising in court interpreting and subtitling. Her recent works include a book translation of Cogs and Monsters: What Economics Is and What It Should Be, documentary The History of China (中国通史) and the leading TV program on debate and personal stories in Australia Insight. Her recent research interests include translation pedagogy and systemic functional linguistics, with an aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice in the translation classroom.