日英･英日同時または逐次通訳(主な顧客：富士通, ソニー, TBS等)
[学歴] 学士号：カリフォルニア大学、バークレー校 修士号：モントレー国際大学
第４回：『Language change』『CALL for healthy change』『Found in translation』
Reflection and expansion on fundamental concepts expressed in the TED Talk: What makes a word "real"? , and particularly well captured in the book: A Social Constructivist Approach to Translator Education: Empowerment from Theory to Practice
Language is not a fixed, inert instrument, and there is folly in attempting to force artificial conventions on language in general, or on the individuals who use it. Language forms and backforms, obeys and disobeys patterns that would allow for finite prescriptive rules to be drawn, and language grows, relentlessly. I myself have taught prescriptive grammar in schools and companies in Japan, and I have voiced my concern over the possible deleterious effects on the English language of the sloppy or truncated lingo peculiar to the World Wide Web (the Web) or Internet exchanges, such as in chat room discussions. My prescriptive concern for proper form and detail may have increased as a result of my recent work as a technical translator, where fine conventions of style and precise word choice were essential to my daily work. This was valuable and important work, which required careful, prescriptive attention to detail.
I have found, however, that my concerns were off the mark regarding language in a broader context. Aitchison (1998), for example, states that, “continual language change is natural and inevitable, and is due to a combination of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic factors” (p. 439). She points out that “self-proclaimed experts who argue that language is disintegrating have not considered the complexity of the factors involved in language change. They are giving rise to purely emotional expression of their hopes and fears” (p. 431). These fears are unfounded and limiting, particularly when applied to the language classroom. We have the opportunity in the classroom to consider the processes of change that affect every language.
Yule (1985) describes the process of language change as one that is gradual, but certain. He observes that, while “each new language-user has to ‘recreate’ for him- or herself the language of the community … it should be expected that languages will not remain stable, but that change and variation are inevitable” (p. 222). Yule discusses two ways that such language change can be viewed: Diachronically and synchronically. The diachronic view of language reveals how language changes over time, or historically. The synchronic view focuses on differences within one language in different environments and among different groups at the same time. Yule offers examples of historical differences, such as how dog―in its older form, the Old English dogca ―was once used only for some specific breeds. This is an instantiation of the broadening process: The broadening of meaning of a word or phrase. Yule also offers an example of the reverse process, narrowing, in the Old English version of wife, which originally referred to any woman, but which now has a narrower sense of only a married woman.
Examples of language variation in the synchronic view might include the use of orientate in British English, compared with a preference for orient in the same context in American English. It should (but does not) go without saying that none of these usages is wrong, but only different. Variation has always been and will always be a part of language, and it is important that we respect and reflect that in the classroom as well. Language is used not only to create manuals, publications, and essays, but also to convey meaning among people, in the real world. We would do well to treat language accordingly in the classroom as well.
One useful means of allowing the real world―real language―to flow into the classroom, and vice versa, is to use authentic interactive materials. Bringing in material on current events fosters meaningful discussion among learners in the target language precisely as they would have in their L1. Newspapers and magazines are a readily available resource, as are the rich multimedia resources available on the Web, for example.
CALL for healthy change
I see CALL environments to be uniquely suitable to appreciate, reflect on, and incorporate these dynamic cultural contexts in language learning and teaching: to work with real language. The vast and growing resources available on the Web, for example, offer learners and teachers vivid, varied, current, as well as historical language in a fantastic range of contexts, and in the form of text, audio, and video of ever-increasing quality. I myself have taken the opportunity to collaborate and create several interactive CALL projects at universities and companies in Japan, China, and the U.S. Vilmi (1999) also describes the rapidly evolving cyber-culture as an optimal site for language learning. She predicts a sea change in methods for teaching languages, presently for English, but for all languages soon. She looks forward to ousting the current “artificial teacher-student-classroom peer environment,” where learners are preoccupied with improving accuracy and grades, in favor of “dynamic student-teacher-global peer situations” (p. 440). She notes that classroom lessons will always play an important role, especially when learners tackle a new language. However, according to Vilmi (1999), once learners have the basics, they need to get into authentic arenas:
They need to use their language skills to exchange ideas, learn about other cultures, get expert advice from people living in totally different environments, make personal contacts, and learn the technical and social skills necessary for surviving in today’s rapidly evolving world. Autonomous learning, made possible by technology, is a significant aspect of this new approach to global education. (p. 440)
CALL environments offer a unique cultural context for communication that epitomizes the rapid, continuous pace of language change, and the intricate network of elements involved in all communication. Opportunities to expand cultural and linguistic awareness via the Internet and computer technologies are boundless and booming.
Found in translation
Computer technologies, including the Internet and the Web, represent an especially exciting frontier for raising linguistic awareness in the teaching of translation and interpretation. These technologies are essential to professional translators, and I have found them to be indispensable tools in my own experience. I have availed myself of bilingual and multilingual electronic dictionaries, manuals of style, desktop publishing programs, and of the endless supply of professional publications available for reference on the Web. In this way, I was able to research and verify that my choices in translating documents were appropriate, by comparing with parallel texts within the same genre that were posted on the Web, to check for current standard terminology and phrasing.
When I was assigned to do a series of translations on electron microscopy, for example, I searched the Web, as well as several electronic bilingual dictionaries that were available in my office to better understand the subject and the standard writing style. As Kiraly (2000) notes, “word processors, spreadsheets, terminology databases, translation memory, desktop publishing software, access to the Internet, and a variety of on- and offline electronic resources” are daily tools of the trade for both freelance and staff translators, and so they must be for teachers of translation (p. 123).
It is important for teachers of translation and interpretation to recognize that translators and interpreters must stay abreast of new terms in both source and target language, and that computer technologies and resources are uniquely suited to the task. But it is not sufficient to merely focus on the latest terms in a given specialization in translation, or in language learning and teaching in general. There is much more to understanding language, to learning and using the second or target language, than substituting a corresponding word-for-word translation.
Finally, Kiraly reminds us that:
It is clear that today, high levels of translation competence, foreign language competence, and native tongue competence are in themselves insufficient, albeit essential, features of the translator’s overall professional profile. But the translator’s marketability also depends on his or her ability to use the modern tools of the trade in a professional manner, to research new topics quickly and efficiently, to justify one’s work when necessary, to negotiate and collaborate with other translators and subject matter experts to accomplish tasks at hand. What is essential for graduates is that they be competent enough to tackle a wide variety of assignments and that they be confident enough to undertake new language-related tasks that may not have even existed when they were studying (p. 14).