Inside the Monitor Model: Processes of Default and Challenged Translation Production

Michael Carl, Barbara Dragsted

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    It has been the subject of debate in the translation process literature whether human translation is a sequential and iterative process of comprehension-transfer-production or whether and to what extent comprehension and production activities may occur in parallel. Tirkkonen-Condit (2005) suggests a “monitor model” according to which translators start with a literal default rendering procedure and where a monitor interrupts the default procedure when a problem occurs. This paper suggests an extension of the monitor model in which comprehension and production are processed in parallel by the default procedure. Deviations from this default behaviour are triggered through text production problems and involve conscious decision-making processes, related to text comprehension or to text production problems.In order to quantify this hypothesis, we compare text copying with translation activities under the assumption that text copying is a prototypical literal default rendering procedure. Both, translation and text copying, require decoding, retrieval and encoding of textual segments, but translation requires in addition a transfer step into another language. Comparing user behaviour obtained in copying and translation experiments, we observe surprisingly many similarities between these two activities. Copyists deviate from the default literal text reproduction into more effortful text understanding, and much
    of the translators’ behaviour resembles that of copyists. We observe that extended ST and TT comprehension is triggered through production problems, during translation
    as well as during text copying.
    Original languageEnglish
    Book seriesTC3, Translation: Computation, Corpora, Cognition
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)127-145
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Human Translation Process Research
    • Text Copying
    • Eye Tracking
    • Key-Logging

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