Willingness to Translate and its Relation to Translation Strategies of MA University Students | April 2015 | Translation Journal

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Willingness to Translate and its Relation to Translation Strategies of MA University Students

Willingness to Translate and its Relation to Translation Strategies of MA University Students


Translation as a field of study was introduced through the work of Holmes, by which scholars’ attention was directed towards the process of translating. Existence of interest in the translation process causes the creation of a link between translation and psychological studies. One of the psychological factors that has recently attracted attention in the field of translation studies is the concept of willingness to translate. As a new concept, this willingness has not yet been investigated regarding its impact on the application of translation strategies, the topic of this study. This research was conducted as a qualitative study, focused on the classification of students into three groups of low, middle, and high-willing participants through the administration of a willingness to translate (WTT) questionnaire and consideration of the grades each student obtained by completing it.

Moreover, in this study translation strategies of two students with low-level and two students with high-level of willingness to translate were recorded through the application of the Think-Aloud method. These strategies were counted and classified under seven sub-categories and two core categories. The results of strategy analyses displayed the fact that this level of willingness to translate had impact on the frequency and application of strategies by the students of two groups.

Keywords: Translation psychology, Willingness to Translate, Translation Strategies

1.1 Background

According to Munday (2012), the term “translation” was first used around 1340 and directly comes from the participle of the verb “transferre”, which means “to carry”. Translation had found its significance as soon as writing was invented and an importance attached to it as a way of having inter-communication between different nations and cultures. In fact, as stated by Sdobnikov (2011, p. 1445), translation is a means of establishing communication between representatives of two cultures, and the translator is a mediator between these two. It is a broad notion which can be defined in various ways by different theorists, such as Nida and Taber (1969), who pointed out that, “Translation consists of reproducing in the receptor language the closet natural equivalent of the source language message, first in terms of meaning and secondly in terms of style” (Shuttleworth, 1997, p. 182).

Nowadays, translation has developed and found its way into many other fields of study. It is a phenomenon that has huge effects on everyday life (Hatim and Munday, 2004). It became an academic subject, a field of study called “translation studies”, during the second half of the 20th century through the work of James S. Holmes (1988), in “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies”. Holmes defined translation studies as “the complex of problems clustered round the phenomenon of translating and translations” (stated in Introducing Translation Studies by Munday, 2012, p. 10).

In his paper, Holmes (1988) divided the discipline of translation studies into two branches of pure and applied. Under the pure branch he proposed the branch of Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS), which examines the product, function and process of translation. Process-oriented DTS deals with the cognitive studies of translation acts, with the psychology of translation, which tries to figure out what really goes on in the mind of the translator during the act of translation.

Based on Holmes, translation psychology would carry out research dealing with “the process or act of translation itself, including systematic empirical studies under laboratory conditions” (The Translation Studies Reader, 2004, p. 178). This new aspect in the field of translation connects the field of translation with the field of psychology, which is a field of study working with the human mind and assessments and treatments of its problems. Psychology is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in other areas of human activity, such as translation, which are considered as aspects of cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology which studies cognition: the mental processes (learning, perception, reasoning, problem-solving, memory, language use, thinking, attentions and emotions) underlying mental activities. This branch of psychology, cognitive psychology, found its way into translation because, as Jaaskelainen (2012, p. 13) indicated, “Translation is a cognitively complex and demanding task. All kinds of translation including those which are concerning the area of art such as literary translation, involve a great deal of conscious problem-solving and decision-making, leading and contributing to the de-mystification of translation”. This issue resulted in a new area of research in translation studies, focusing on the investigation of the translation process and strategies applied by the translators using Think-Aloud, a method borrowed from cognitive sciences, which considers the concurrent verbalization of whatever a participant is looking at, feeling, thinking, doing as he/she goes about a specific task.

The first TAP studies (for instance, Gerloff, 1986 and 1988; Krings, 1986; Lorscher, 1991) focused on the use of foreign language learners as the subjects of investigation and also texts with more difficulty. These foreign students tended to translate literally because the notion of well-functioning target text means nothing to them, which was not the same case for the professional translators. Taking account of this fact resulted in research which used professionals, i.e. advanced students of the translator training institutes, and texts were selected that are translated in real life (Kussmaul and Tirkkonen-Condit, 1995). The professionals’ participation led to studies trying to compare the differences in the translation process of professional and novice translators and also language students. One study in this area was conducted by Krings (1986) and Lorscher (1991), who concluded that professionals tend to use larger units of translation than foreign language students, which was also found in research by Jakobsen (2003). Research carried out by Tirkkonen-Condit (1992) compares the performance of professional with non-professional translators and found that the professional relies more on textual and linguistic knowledge, whereas the non-professional works with smaller units and relies more on extra-textual knowledge. This conclusion also was reached in a study by Jaaskelainen (1999), Krings (1986), and Lorscher (1991).

This process of translating can be interrupted when a translator faces a translation problem that may engage him/her in problem-solving activities. Engagement in a problem-solving activity urges the translators to look for the solution to this translation problem by applying translation strategies. Therefore, the term “strategy” itself indicates a course of action undertaken to achieve a particular goal in an optimal way. In fact, according to Baker (2009) “the term ‘strategy’ connotes a technical course of action undertaken to achieve a particular goal in an optimal way”.

This term has come to notice since the time of Lorscher (1991), who defined translation strategy as “a potentially conscious procedure for the solution of a problem which an individual is faced with when translating a text segment from one language into another” (p. 8). In another study, Investigating the Translation Process (1992), he proposed that translation strategies are part of the translation process and have their starting point in the realization of a problem by participants and lead to their solution for that problem or its insolubility at a given point. Between the realization of the translation problem and the realization of its solution or insolubility, some mental/verbal activities can occur which can be interpreted as elements of translation strategies or strategy steps. These elements combine to build up structures of strategies, which are classified into three by Lorscher: basic structures, expanded structures, and complex structures. Each translation strategy contains one or more of these structures.

As stated in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (2009, p. 282), Molina and Albir (2002) proposed two different strands in the definition of the strategy: (a) the procedural sense (often used by those investigating psycholinguistic and cognitive approaches to translating), which was best displayed by Lorscher (1991), and (b) the textual sense (applied to the results of procedures rather than the procedures themselves), indicated by the work of Vinay and Drbelnets’ Taxonomy in Comparative Stylistics of French and English (1995).

The passage of time made this concept of translation strategy a controversial and new subject in the field of translation studies, and led to an incredible amount of research which studied this issue. Some studies were only the analysis of the strategies used to translate specific kinds of words, sentence, or text. Ghazizadeh and Mardani (2012) investigated the strategies of translators in the rendering of taboos in the dubbing of English movies in Persian through a descriptive approach.

In 1991, Seguinot studied translator students at different levels of proficiency for translating two similar texts. They translated two advertisements from French into English. Seguinot reported that native speakers of English translating into their mother tongue show more efficient monitoring strategies and work more at the textual level, whereas non-native speakers seem to rely more on learned principles and lexical-level processes.

Other investigation into translation strategy looks at different classifications of translation strategies. The most significant one is local (focuses on smaller units of translation) and global (considers the whole text) translation strategies which were proposed by Lorscher (1991), Jasskelainen (1993), and Bell (1998). In another study, Krings (1986) suggested strategies of: comprehension, equivalent retrieval, equivalent monitoring, decision-making, and reduction.

Seguinot (1996) studied two professional translators working together on the same task, and, as a result of this study, four types of translation strategies were indentified, being typical of “professionals”: interpersonal strategies (brainstorming, connection, phatic function), search strategies (dictionaries, world knowledge, words), inferring strategies (rendering ST and TT, consulting), and monitoring strategies (rendering ST and TT, consulting, comparing units). Considering professional translators, Baker (1992, pp. 26-42) listed the most applicable taxonomy of strategies used by them:

  1. Translation by a more general word
  2. Translation by a more neutral/ less expressive word
  3. Translation by cultural substitution
  4. Translation using a loan word or loan word plus explanation
  5. Translation by paraphrase using a related word
  6. Translation by paraphrase using unrelated words
  7. Translation by omission
  8. Translation by illustration.

Bergen's (1991) classification of the strategies includes three categorizations: comprehension strategies, transfer strategies, and production strategies.

Lotfipour-Saedi (1996, pp. 391-392) described the differences between the terms “strategy” and “principle” and classified translation strategies into system-oriented (employed to solve the problems arising from the non-isomorphic nature of SL and TL systems), genre-oriented and audience-oriented (oriented around the text-type or genre of the text which is being translated and at the audience or reader at which the translation is aimed).

In his book, Prof A.B As- Safi (1997, pp. 47-51) divided the translation strategies into general and specific strategies. General strategies deal with different text types. Specific strategies face a certain text type, readership and Skopos, i.e. the function or purpose of translation, which includes five sub-categories:

  1. Domestication strategy
  2. Compensation strategy (compensation in kind, compensation in place, compensation by merging, compensation by splitting, compensation by addition)
  3. Strategy of addition
  4. Strategy of elaboration and explication
  5. Strategy of approximation and compromise.

In an investigation by Gerloff (1986), a more complex classification of translation strategies was suggested: problem-identification, linguistic analysis, storage and retrieval, general search and selection, text inferencing and reasoning, and text contextualization and task monitoring.

In addition, application of translation strategies is believed to be affected by such factors as students’ willingness. Willingness as a factor, a human’s desire, has recently become popular as a field of study. This concept has been used in many fields, especially in that of the economy, like willingness to pay or willingness to buy counterfeit goods (Swami et al., 2009). In academic fields of study, mostly this concept has been considered in the field of learning, especially second language learning, with regard to the issue of communication in a foreign language, known as WTC (willingness to communicate).

This concept of willingness to communicate was originally introduced in L1 communication, then it found its way into L2 communication. McCroskey and Baer (1985) developed the WTC construct to measure students’ level of willingness to communicate in a second language, and it was discovered to have dual characteristics at both trait (internal) and state (external) levels in a study by MacIntyre, Clement, Dornyei, & Noels (1998).WTC is a person’s desire to perform an action that may be influenced by many factors. One study by Ghonsooly and Taheryan (2014), investigated the effect of single-sex and mixed-sex context on EFL students inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Two conclusions were stated: students studying in a single-sex context showed a higher level of WTC both inside and outside of the classroom, and males tended to communicate more than females.

Apart from gender, personality differences were taken to be influential. Its role in WTC was examined as the second purpose of a study by MacIntyre and Charos (1996). In this study it was concluded that personality traits, as measured by the Five Factor Model, can contribute to the prediction of frequency of L2 communication.

Despite much research concerning the issue of willingness to communicate, little can be found regarding this topic in translation literature. The term “willingness” was also found to be of importance in translation by a study carried out about a year ago by an Iranian researcher, Mosadeghzadeh (2013). Based on the WTC scale, the researcher focused on validating the WTT (willingness to translate) questionnaire, which is a 18-item questionnaire and has a scale ranging from 1 to 5 from which students can choose their answers for each of the written statements. The researcher also tried to find whether there is a relationship between students’ WTT and their translation ability, and found a strong relationship between these variables. She indicated that WTT has dual characteristics like WTC, including both trait-level and state-level aspects. She also indicated that trait WTT may bring a person into situations in which communication may happen, but state-level (situational) WTT can influence whether communication is initiated or not.

More recently, one other study by another Iranian researcher, Haghshenas (2014), was also performed, which focused on WTT. In her study she analyzed the relationship between Iranian prospective translators’ tolerance for ambiguity and their WTT, and found a direct and significant relationship.

Importantly, this willingness of students to translate is a new variable which has not been investigated concerning the impact it may have on the application of strategies by students. Therefore, this study had focused on probing the ways levels of WTT may affect strategies which were used by MA translation students.

1.2 Purpose of the Study

This study centered its focus on finding out how MA students’ levels of willingness to translate, measured by the 18-question WTT questionnaire (constructed and validated by Mosadeghzadeh, 2013), can affect the translation strategies used by them. The method used in this research was a qualitative method of investigation in which students’ translation strategies were drawn out through the use of the Think-Aloud method.

1.3 Research Questions

Q1: Do different levels of willingness to translate have any effect on the application of translation strategies by MA translation students?

Q2: How can these MA translation students’ levels of willingness to translate affect the translation strategies used by them?

2.1. Participants

For completing the WTT questionnaire, a total number of 110 participants were selected from Imam Reza, Ferdowsi University and its International Unit, and Azad University of Ghoochan. They were 73 females and 37 males selected through ‘Convenience or Opportunity Sampling’, a method in which the populations who are selected have some criteria such as easy accessibility, availability at certain times, or the willingness to volunteer (Dornyei, 2007). A great number of these participants were from Imam Reza  University (57 students) with a maximum of 13 taking part from each class of each university. Moreover, these participants were all MA junior and senior university students majoring in English translation, with the minimum age of 22 and maximum age of 45.

Regarding the Think-Aloud part, as a feature of qualitative research, a small number of participants was needed. Therefore, four MA students (three females and one male) majoring in English translation at Imam Reza  participated in this investigation, who were selected through ‘criterion sampling’, a kind of sampling in which participants are chosen because they meet some predetermined criteria (Dornyei, 2007). In this research, as later will be explained, two of the participants were those who met the predetermined criterion of being part of the low-level WTT group, the other two being part of the high-level one. All these four students took part voluntarily. Their ages ranged between 25-30.

2.2. Instrumentation

Five instruments were used in this study as mentioned below:

WTT questionnaire: This is a quantitative self-report indicator of students’ desire to translate a text from L2 to L1 and it has both trait-level and state-level aspects. This device was created and validated by an Iranian female researcher, Mosadeghzadeh (2013). In her thesis she used Cronbach’s Alpha test to analyze the reliability of the WTT questionnaire, which was reported to be .863 and indicated its high reliability. For analyzing the questionnaire’s validity, she used exploratory factor analysis consisting of three stages: the Bartlett test of Sphericity and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin, Principle Component Analysis, and Varimax Rotation. Based on the results of this test, the validity of this questionnaire was proven to be high.

This questionnaire consists of 18 questions classified on the basis of five factors including: enthusiasm to translate, enthusiasm to translate technical text, enthusiasm to translate informal text, enthusiasm to translate scientific text, and enthusiasm to earn money from translation. For each of the 18 questions, a scale of 1= almost never willing, 2= willing half of the time, 3= sometimes willing, 4= usually willing, and 5= almost always willing was provided. WTT is scored in a way in which answers indicating the highest WTT (5= almost always willing) receive 5 points and answers indicating the lowest (1=almost never willing) receive 1 point. More importantly, none of this questionnaire’s questions are negative. Grades obtained from each answer are added up to reach the final score, which ranges from 18 (the lowest score) to 90 (the highest score). On the basis of the scores, participants were classified into three groups: those who scored 18 to 30 were considered as low willing to translate students, those with scores of 30 to 60 were considered as middle willing to translate and those with scores ranging between 60 to 90 were high willing to translate.

Translation text: A six-line paragraph was chosen out of a three-paragraph text which is included in Translation from English for Advanced Students, written by H.A. Cartledge (2005).

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: This is an English-English dictionary for advanced learners, published by Pearson Education Limited in 2010. This was provided for the students during the course of translation.

Farhang Moaser Millennium: This is an English-Persian dictionary, written by Ali M. Haghshenas, Hossein Samei, and Nargues Entekhabi, published by Farhang Moaser Publishers in 2003. Participants also had access to this dictionary while translating.

A Tape recorder, paper, and a pen: The tape recorder was used for recording the sound of the participants while thinking aloud during the translation process. A piece of paper and a pen were used by the researcher to write down the participants’ behavior and movements during their translation task.

2.3. Procedure

At first, all the 110 students were provided with the WTT questionnaire and asked to fill it out in the allocated time of 15 minutes. Participants were assured that their personal information would be kept confidential. In the next step, the completed questionnaires were corrected, and levels of students’ willingness to translate were analyzed. On the basis of their grades from the WTT questionnaire, which range between 18 to 90, students were classified into three groups of high, middle, and low-level WTT participants.

During the Think-Aloud part, two high-level and two low-level students were asked voluntarily to take part and were provided with English-English and English-Persian dictionaries, and a six-line text selected from Translation from English for Advanced Students. These four participants were required to translate this text and simultaneously think aloud what they were doing while translating it, at a quiet office at Imam Reza University. In addition, at the same time, the researcher recorded their voices with a tape recorder and also wrote down the way they behaved. Importantly, no time limit was considered for carrying this out; however, none of the four Think-Aloud tasks took longer than 30 minutes. Finally, these verbal reports were transcribed, students’ translation strategies were recorded, encoded on the basis of the three-level coding system of grounded theory, and then analyzed.

2.4. Data Analysis

In this research the Think-Aloud data were analyzed through the use of the coding system applied in grounded theory. It classifies the coding system into three phases of: open coding, axial coding, and selective coding (Dornyei, 2007).

During the process of open coding, the researcher breaks up the data into chunks and labels them with some abstract and conceptual categories. In this study, the researcher classified the verbal reports into various segments and named each one with the translation strategy applied to them. With axial coding (also called theoretical coding), one finds the inter-relationship between these categories and integrates them into several sub-categories. The researcher of this investigation analyzed the applied translation strategies, found those connected to each other (sharing some similarities), and grouped them under the same seven sub-categories, as named by the researcher. In the final phase of this coding system it is necessary to select a core category (or as Richards, 2003, puts it, explanatory concept) for those sub-categories, which was done here by the researcher taking those sub-categories of translation strategies and fitting them into the two broader/core categories of lower-order and higher-order processing strategies mentioned in Thinking-aloud in Second Language Reading by Ghonsooly (2013). These two categories of lower-order and higher-order processing strategies are based on Rumelhart’s (1977) theory of top-down and bottom-up strategies.

3.1. Result

This part shows the results of TAP data analysis. The first aspect which should be noted is the difference in the total time used by the groups of low and high-willing students.

Table 1

Translation Time

Low-Willing WTT Students  50 minutes 
 High-Willing WTT Students  39 Minutes
 Total Time  89 minutes


Based on what can be observed here, it took more time for the low-willing group to translate the paragraph. The high-willing ones used about 11 minutes fewer than them. Based on the Think-Aloud transcriptions, it was found that low-willing students dedicated a part of their time to the finding of new underlined words in the dictionaries before starting translation. Another reason was that this text seemed more challenging for them, although the number of times they were facing problems during the act of translation was approximately the same as the high-willing students.

As mentioned earlier, all the 31 recognized strategies were classified under seven sub-categories (getting an idea, achieving the translation, modification, facing difficulty, understanding the meaning, translating, and achieving equivalence) and then under two core categories of higher-order and lower-order processing strategies (created by Ghonsooly, 2013) based on the rules of the coding in grounded theory. Higher-order processing strategies and their frequency for low-willing and high-willing students are as follows:

Low-willing students    High-willing students:   

 Table 2

   Table 7  
 Getting an Idea    Getting an idea  
 Quick Overview  0   Quick Overview  1 
 Reading the Whole Source Text  2  Reading the Whole Source Text  0
 Reading the Text  12  Reading the Text  14
Table 3   Table 8  
Achieving the Translation   Achieving the Translation  
 Word Repetition  31  Word Repetition  25
 Phrase Repetition  54  Phrase Repetition  43
 Sentence Repetition  17  Sentence Repetition  7
 Synonym Repetition  0  Synonym Repetition  2
 Previous Translation Repetition  26  Previous Translation Repetition  30
Table 4   Table 9  
Modification   Modification  
 Deletion  7  Deletion  2
 Addition  2  Addition  1
 Monitoring  7  Monitoring  6
 Editing  23  Editing  16
 Translation Checking  5  Translation Checking  5
 Table 5    Table 10  
 Facing Difficulty    Facing Difficulty  
 Problem Assertion  13  Problem Assertion  12
 Total Skipping  1  Total Skipping  1
 Temporary Skipping  1  Temporary Skipping  5
 New Words Underlining  17  New Words Underlining  7
 Self Directed Questions (SQD)  15  Self Directed Questions (SQD)  18
 Teacher Directed Questions (TQD)  1  Teacher Directed Questions (TQD)  0
 Researcher Directed Questions (RQD)  0  Researcher Directed Questions (RQD)  3
 Table 6    Table 11  
 Understanding the Meaning    Understanding the Meaning  
 Inferencing  9  Inferencing  7
 Watcher Strategy  1  Watcher Strategy  1


This higher-order category consists of five sub-categories. The first sub-category is ‘getting an idea’, which includes strategies of quick overview, reading the whole source text, and reading the text, which were used by students for getting the gist of what the text is about. The second is ‘achieving the translation’, consisting of five strategies of word, phrase, sentence, synonym, and previous translation repetition strategies. These repetitions were applied by the students to find a translation for the word, phrase, or sentence they were translating. They repeated the dictionary synonyms to find the best translation for the word they checked, and while translating the next sentence, they repeated the previous translated word, phrase, or sentence to get an idea for the translation of the next part.

Tables 4.4 and 4.9 show the third sub-category, ‘modification’ strategies, which was applied for making improvements in the quality of the translated text. It has five strategies of deletion, addition, monitoring, editing, and translation checking. Deletion and addition were used for deleting or adding a part or even a word in the translated sentence. By the use of monitoring strategy, students checked, evaluated, and controlled part of their translations, and sometimes edited or changed some parts to make improvements. And finally, translation checking is the strategy which was applied at the end of the translation process for checking the translated text, which may be the whole sentence or the whole paragraph.

The next sub-category, ‘facing difficulty’, consists of strategies applied by the participants when encountering a translation problem. It includes seven strategies. The first one is problem assertion, by which students stated that they had a problem. Total and temporary skipping was used to ignore translation of a part permanently or temporarily. New words underlining was the strategy used by the participants to underline the words they wanted to check in the dictionary. Considering the last three strategies: self, teacher, and researcher directed questions, students used them when facing a problem: they talked with themselves, asked the researcher, or put it aside to ask the teacher.

The last sub-category in this core category is ‘understanding the meaning’, which has two strategies that were used for getting the meaning of a sentence or a part. Firstly, there is the strategy of inferencing, which means that students explained the meaning of a sentence or a part while reading that sentence or part. The second one is ‘watcher strategy’, which means that students read other following words, sentences or parts to get the meaning of a word, sentence or a part they didn’t understand.

As mentioned above, five of these seven sub-categories were included as part of the higher-order strategies, and the other two sub-categories were classified under the core-category of lower-order processing strategies. Lower-order strategies for low-willing and high-willing students are displayed with their frequencies:

 Low-willing students:     High-willing students:   
 Table 12    Table 14  
 Translating    Translating  
 Word Translation  10  Word Translation  19
 Phrase Translation  17  Phrase Translation  24
 Tentative Translation  19  Tentative Translation  17
 Final Translation  10  Final Translation  11
 Table 13    Table 15  
 Achieving Equivalence    Achieving Equivalence  
 Dictionary Use  19  Dictionary Use  10
 Synonym Search  30  Synonym Search  19
 Equivalence Selection  19  Equivalence Selection  8
 Synonym Confirmation  2  Synonym Confirmation  0
 Opposite Synonym Search  1  Opposite Synonym Search  0


This lower-order core category for both groups of students was classified into two sub-categories of translating and achieving equivalence. The translating sub-category consists of word, phrase, tentative, and final translation strategies. It shows the way students provided the translation of the whole paragraph. By ‘word’ and ‘phrase’ translation strategies is meant that the students translated at the word or phrase level. The tentative translation strategy shows that students have provided an approximate, a crude translation, before writing down the exact one, which was the final translation.

The second sub-category is achieving equivalence, which consists of five strategies of dictionary use, synonym search, equivalence selection, synonym confirmation, and opposite synonym search. Use of these strategies was for finding the best meaning, the best equivalence for the new words the students faced. They checked any words which seemed new to them in either of the two dictionaries which were provided for them, and looked for the best equivalence to select among the synonyms. Sometimes, although the meaning of a word was realized by the students, they looked at the synonyms in a dictionary to confirm the meaning they knew. What happens in the opposite synonym search is that the meaning of a new negative word is going to be understood through checking the synonyms of its positive side.

These higher-order and lower-order strategies analyses provided some key facts listed below:

  1. The frequently used strategy in both groups was phrase repetition strategy. However, low-willing students used it 11 times more than high-willing ones: 54 times for the low-willing group, and 43 times for the high-willing one. This means that the low-willing students had much difficulty in achieving a translation, but it doesn’t mean that they tried more to achieve it. They kept repeating a phrase to get to a translation for that, but were not as successful as high-willing ones.
  2. Although in the low-willing group strategies of quick overview, synonym repetition, and researcher directed questions were used for zero time, in the high-willing group they were used, respectively 1, 2, and 3 times. Low-willing students tended to read the text as a whole and found answers to their problems either through asking their teachers or by themselves. They also didn’t repeat synonyms of a word to get to its proper translation. The same case can be found regarding the high-willing group: although the four strategies of reading the whole text, opposite synonym search, synonym confirmation, and teacher directed questions were used for zero time by high-willing ones, they were applied respectively for 2, 1, 2, and 1 times by low-willing students. In fact, high-willing students tended to start translating immediately before reading the text to get an idea. They didn’t check a negative word by looking for the meaning of its positive side and also didn’t ask their teachers for help while facing a problem. Furthermore, they didn’t have any doubt about the meaning of the words they knew.
  3. No big difference can be found in the number of times the strategy of reading the text was used by both groups of students: low-willing students used it 12 times and high-willing 14 times. Both groups read the text phrase-by-phrase or sentence-by-sentence and translated it.
  4. Regarding the sentence repetition strategy, low-willing students used it seven times (17) more than the high-willing group (7). This was because low-willing students had more difficulty in achieving a translation for a sentence.
  5. Regarding the word repetition strategy, high-willing students used it 25 times and low-willing ones 31 times, six times more, which means that they were again facing a little bit more difficulty in achieving a translation for a word. Also, the strategy of previous translation repetition was applied four times fewer by low-willing students, about 26 times (30 times by high-willing ones).
  6. New words underlining was also used ten times more by low-willing students: 17 times by low-willing, and seven times by high-willing students, showing that low-willing students found it more necessary to check words in the dictionary, although the meanings of some were known by them.
  7. Low-willing students used dictionaries for checking the meaning of words, nine times more than the other group: 19 times by low-willing, and ten times by high-willing students. This is due to this fact that low-willing students checked more words.
  8. Considering strategies of synonym search and equivalence selection, a big difference was observed between the two groups in the number of times they were used. Synonym search strategy was used by the low-willing group 30 times and by the high-willing group 19 times, which was due to the number of words low-willing students felt it was essential to check and also because of their effort to look for the best synonym for some other words they knew. In addition, the strategy of equivalent selection was applied 19 times by the low-willing and eight times by the high-willing group, showing that low-willing students made more effort in finding the best and proper synonym for a word. Besides, number of words needed to be checked was also effective.
  9. Both strategies of word translation and phrase translation were used more times by high-willing students, and no big difference was manifested between the number of times tentative and final translation strategies were used by students of both groups. In both groups phrase translation strategy was used more than word translation strategy, manifesting that students of both groups focused more on translation at phrase level than word level. Furthermore, high-willing students applied these two strategies more because they were translating smaller units of translation more than low-willing ones. High-willing students were, in fact, more successful in achieving translations.
  10. There is not much difference between the two groups concerning strategies of total and temporary skipping, problem assertion, inferencing, monitoring, addition, and self directed questions. Moreover, watcher and translation checking strategies were used the same number of times (one and five times respectively) by the high-willing group and the low-willing group.
  11. Finally, editing and deletion strategies were applied by low-willing participants more times than the high-willing ones. Low-willing students did more editing and deleting because they made more attempts at making improvements in their translations. It also showed that they were less satisfied with their translations.

3.2 Responding to Research Questions 1 and 2

Firstly, being a part of low-willing or high-willing group showed variety in the amount of translation time. What the analysis showed was that low-willing students used more time, about 11 minutes more than high-willing ones. This leads us to the fact that low-willing students needed more time for translating the six-line paragraph in comparison to the other group due to dedication of their time to searching for words in the dictionaries at the beginning of the task and the level of challenge this text had for them.

Secondly, in answering questions 1 and 2, it can be said that having a low-willing or high-willing level of WTT does influence the frequency and application of some strategies by students. Some strategies were used sometimes by low-willing group, but not the high-willing one, and vice versa. Also some strategies were used more times by one of the two groups of students. Finally, some strategies were used by students of both groups approximately for the same number of times.

3.3. Discussion

Recent concentration on the process of translation has moved the focus on the translated text to the processes that happen in the translators’ mind while translating. This translation process, as was believed, is accompanied by the application of some strategies by the translator him/herself to get to the translation product. These translation strategies are believed to manifest when a translator faces a difficulty during the translation process. Furthermore, application of these strategies can be affected by some variables such as students’ willingness, which was investigated in this study by considering two groups of low-willing and high-willing students.

All the 31 achieved strategies were classified into seven sub-categories at first (getting an idea, achieving the translation, modification, facing difficulty, understanding the meaning, translating, and achieving equivalence) and then under two core categories of high-order and low-order processing strategies. The first five sub-categories of getting an idea, achieving the translation, modification, facing difficulty, and understanding the meaning were classified under the label of higher-order strategies, and the two remaining sub-categories of translating and achieving equivalence were classified as lower-order strategies. As mentioned in chapter 3, higher-order processes include strategies of speech processing, inferencing, meta-cognition, and background knowledge, and lower-order strategies include strategies of syntactical processing, word code breaking, and word distinction.

In this research, the getting an idea sub-category was taken as part of speech processing strategies, the strategies of achieving the translation and understanding the meaning sub-categories were considered as part of inferencing strategies, and strategies of modification and facing difficulty sub-categories were included in meta-cognition strategies. In addition, considering the two sub-categories of lower-order processes, both were taken as part of word distinction strategies. Analysis of these categories pointed out differences in the frequency and use of some strategies, while some showed little variation between the groups.

The first point of difference was the amount of time both groups dedicated to the translation of the paragraph. Based on the results, it can be implied that low-willing students should be given more time for translating a text. This is because although no big difference was found between the two groups regarding the number of times they said they had a problem, translating the paragraph seemed more challenging for the low-willing students, shown by one of the two students leaving a part of text without translation and asking her teacher for it, something which was not done by any of the high-willing students. In addition, low-willing ones needed more time because they started the task by checking words in the dictionaries. Importantly, it seemed necessary for low-willing students to check more words in the dictionaries for gaining their synonyms, although they knew the meaning of some of them.

Furthermore, students of the high-willing group started translating straight away, whereas the low-willing ones first checked the underlined words in the dictionaries and then started translating. The number of times word and phrase translation strategies were used shows that both groups translated more at the phrase level than the word level, and high-willing ones translated more at the smaller levels of word and phrase and were more successful in achieving a translation.

Quick overview, synonym repetition, and researcher-directed questions strategies were not used even once by low-willing students, showing that they preferred to read the whole source text instead of having an overview, and sought answers to their questions either by themselves or through their teachers. In addition, they looked at, checked, and said the synonyms just once without repeating them in order to choose the best equivalence for them.

On the other hand, high-willing students did not use strategies of reading the whole source text, teacher-directed questions, synonym confirmation, and opposite synonym search, which demonstrated that they desired to have a quick overview for a few seconds, and then started translating, not asking for help from their teachers. They did not check the meaning of a positive word for understanding its negative side, and were sure of their knowledge regarding the meanings of words.

Lastly, more use of dictionaries, synonym search, and equivalence selection strategies by low-willing students demonstrated the point that low-willing students found more difficult words and made more attempts to find the best equivalences for the words they were checking. Moreover, more application of phrase and sentence repetition strategies by low-willing participants showed that achieving a translation was more challenging and more problematic for them, but they didn’t try more than high-willing ones to achieve it.

Significantly, the existence of these differences can be related to the differences that may be found between students of lower or higher WTT levels. Such differences in strategy use can also be found between highly or less motivated students. Motivation, as mentioned by Cohen and Macaro (2007) is “an inner drive, intention, or impulse to do something” (p. 55). This motivation is, in fact, a desire (like willingness) or energy in people making them committed to a job, role, etc, or attempting to gain a goal (Business Dictionary. com). Motivation has been taken to be a highly influential variable (like willingness) which causes some differences in the application and frequency of learning strategies (Oxford and Nikos, 1989). These two researchers conducted a large- scale study of US college students and found that highly motivated learners used four out of five strategy categories significantly more frequently than less motivated ones. This conclusion was also reached in other investigations by Mochizuki (1999) and Wharton (2000) (stated in Language Learner Strategies by Cohen and Macaro, 2007). Therefore, what can be inferred here is that being part of one of these three levels of WTT may be a good reason why such variations were found in the frequency of strategies used between lower and higher-level WTT participants.

3.4. Recommendations for Further Research

One of the important variables which was not considered in this research was the gender of participants, which can also have impact on both levels of WTT and TA data. Therefore, in future research regarding translation strategies and WTT levels, this factor should be taken into account.

Another variable regarding the WTT levels which needs to be investigated in the future is the age of students. This factor was controlled to some extent during the TA process in this study. In fact, students of different ages can be compared on the basis of their WTT levels.

Lastly, this study only selected MA students who came from the educational environments of the Imam Reza and Ferdowsi Universities of Mashhad, and the Ghoochan Azad University. Further studies would benefit from more effective results if students of BA level from various university environments in other cities participated too.


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