PhD graduates at the Birmingham Centre for Translation

Nermeen Al Nafra, PhD Translation Studies, 2017

Thesis title: Developing translators' skills: a diachronic case study
Supervised by Dr Gabriela Saldanha and Dr Sofia Malamatidou

Thesis abstract

Taking into consideration the calls for different translation training approaches in order to equip translators with the theoretical knowledge necessary to empower them in their role as cultural mediators, this study will investigate how and to what extent following a training programme at postgraduate level affects trainee translators’ perception of translation problems and the way they justify their decisions. This study explores how trainee translators describe the strategies they used to identify translation problems and the justification of the decisions made, as well as to what extent trainee translators integrate the theoretical knowledge acquired throughout the course into translation practice. The one-year master’s degree programme in Translation Studies at the University of Birmingham was used as a case study to undertake this research. Data was collected at different stages throughout the academic year (2012-2013). The research techniques used in this case study consisted primarily of a translation task completed by trainee translators and accompanied by forms to comment on translation problems and translation strategies. The task was followed, in some cases, by retrospective interviews. Textual analysis using the appraisal system developed by Martin and White (2005) was used to examine the stance trainee translators adopted in describing their strategies. This study suggests that translation training, in particular theoretical knowledge of translation acquired throughout the programme, has an impact on the trainees’ perception of translation problems and the manner in which they justify translation strategies. This research indicates that trainee translators’ understanding of translation problems changes from being merely linguistic to multidimensional after following a translation training programme. It also suggests that trainee translators develop their way of justifying their translation decisions from focusing on meeting the target language rules towards attempting to produce a clear and coherent target text. The present study also advances a new hypothesis: trainee translators become more objective and assertive in the justification of their solutions as a consequence of following a translation training programme.

Matthew Chozick, PhD Translation Studies, 2017

Thesis title: How English Translations of The Tale of Genji Helped to Popularize the Work in Japan
Supervised by Dr Gabriela Saldanha

Thesis abstract

The Tale of Genji had been out of print in Japan for nearly two centuries when its first English translation debuted in 1882. Ironically, as fin de siècle Anglophones encountered early reviews of Genji in The New York Times and elsewhere as a Japanese classic, the text was unavailable in Tokyo bookstores. This study investigates the millennium-long history of Genji, shedding light particularly upon how its English translators introduced textual and marketing strategies that were adopted by Japanese to domestically popularize the work. Such findings will extend those of G.G. Rowley (1997), who first contended that Genji had fallen out of print between the years of 1706 and 1890. This study builds upon Rowley’s research, clarifying how English translations of Genji were responsible for the work’s return to print in Japan, where Genji has subsequently become the country’s national classic. Methodologically, in exploring how translators have creatively enriched Murasaki’s legacy up until the present, this study applies Anthony Pym’s notion of humanization (2009) and Pascale Casanova’s call for literary historicization (2007).  Additionally, this thesis contributes to translation research by introducing the Japanese concept of reverse-importation. The term describes a process through which objects can gain recognition in their domestic market due to perceptions of popularity achieved abroad. Murasaki’s tale provides a case to better understand how English translations of Genji have, through reverse-importation, altered the work’s standing in Japan.