Teaching Technologies: The evolution of Teaching Language Translation Practice (LTP)

I am a B-Tech student at the Tshwane University of Technology currently studying Language Practice. One of my majors is Language Translation Practice Module. During my entire diploma years, since 2015, I have come across many translation dilemmas.

Define: what is the problem that we face?
– The problem is finding or formulating lexical terminologies in our various (Sepedi, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Xitsonga and Venda) applied languages. The bilingual dictionaries that we are using currently are not up to date and they lack great quantity of lemmas. Another problem that is faced is that interpreting is not offered as part of the LTP module, which I believe should be, to complete the package. If you want a career in interpreting, you have to outsource to the other universities, which is adding more years to your qualification.

Discover: what’s causing the problem, and why do we need to solve it?

– During one of my diploma year’s exams (LTP), I came to a realisation that the bilingual Sepedi-English dictionary that I was using did not contain over half of the lexis that I was having difficulties translating to my native language (Sepedi). Again, during the June holidays in 2017, I was shadowing a high prestige interpreter at the Pretoria High Court. Upon my arrival, a colleague asked where I was studying and as I responded that I am a product of TUT, he shook his head in a confused manner and said: “but TUT does not offer interpreting!”. As I was ready to defend myself to say that I major in translation which is practically interpreting in a written form, it clicked that he was indeed making a valid point – that if I were to survive in that industry, I will have to make amends in taking extra modules to add to my qualification.

Dream: what does the ideal solution look like?
– The ideal solution would look like – a language lab with all the latest innovation tools to facilitate learning. I envision a lab where learners could conduct innovative research. A whole building block designated for language purposes.

Design: how will we create our solution?
– The ideal solution will require installation of the Hansard System in the language lab. In 2017, on the yearly educational trip to Cape Town, one of the highlight was a stop at the Parliament. This is where everything synced in. The deployment use of the Hansard System in the Parliament was extraordinarily eye opening. The Hansard System is a digital system used to produce transcripts of the Parliament’s debates and sessions, a global practice that ensures accountability and transparency. The equipment helps electorates have more access to what their representatives are saying and will enable them to ask questions. It allows for primary and backup recording in the Parliament. All recordings are then automatically replicated to a central archive server of the intranet, from where all audio playback and log notes can be accessed and reviewed. The same system could be useful in the LTP module in a sense that when you have a lexis that you do not understand, you could simply listen to a translation in a language of your choice. This will also assist with interpreting which will make an urge to the university management to implement interpreting as part of the LTP module.

Deliver: how will we implement our solution?
– A yearly/quarterly publication of some sort would be the envisioned results; the publication would entail all the new lexis coined in our various applied languages. Also, advancement towards the bilingual dictionaries will be made. Interpreting would be done practically in the language lab. Furthermore, learners could be placed at different environments of exposure to interpreting services for observations.

Debrief: how will we know if we were successful and what could we do differently?
– The lecturers will conduct a quarterly overview of the learners’ performance where they monitor the progress of each learner individually. Furthermore, adjustments will be made according to the learners’ performance.



Africa, T. P. o. S., 2017. Publications. [Sound Recording] (Parliamentary Information Centre).

De Schryver, G., 2007. Oxford Bilingual School Dictionary: Nothern Sotho and English. 1st ed. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Hornby, A. S., 2010. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary: International Students’s Edition. 8th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Zimbabwe, P. o., 2018. Parliament of Zimbabwe. [Online] Available at: http://www.parlzim.gov.zw/administration/directorates/journals-house-procedures-directorate/hansard-department[Accessed 16 October 2018].

The official status of indigenous languages


Pai Obanya: “It is commonplace to classify the languages used in African societies as mother tongues, community (area) languages, lingua-francas, second/foreign languages, and official languages. The colonially-inherited language is often the official one. Even though this is spoken by a tiny (elite) minority in each African country, it is often considered the most prestigious, mainly because it is the language of the educational system and of bureaucracy, of international (including inter-African) dealings, the key to knowing about a wider world, and
the language required for appointment to top-paying jobs.
This prestigious status of the official language, it is often argued, is
sufficient justification for not promoting the unofficial (indigenous) African languages in education. African languages should be vigorously promoted in the bureaucracy, and especially at the grassroots level. It is generally felt that such a move would be one way of encouraging people to be literate in their own language.

What is often not taken into consideration is the extent to which
indigenous African languages often perform the psycho-social functions of the languages of intimacy. One has only to watch the behaviour of two Africans
who share a common language (or languages). After the introductory phatic communion stage, they tend to “lapse” into the L1, for more intimate
The bureaucracy in fact uses the official languages often as a restricted
code, wherever persons in the same work environment share the same African language.
Education is, first and foremost, a psychological affair, since it deals with
personality development. It is also a social affair, since it prepares the
individual for life in society. Indigenous languages are known to play this double role more appropriately than the official ones. The individual’s inner self is in the first language. Relationship at the intimate and most personal level is also in the first language”.

Corpus Linguistics


Muller and Waibel of the University of Freiburg defined corpus linguistic as a collection of texts used for linguistic analyses, usually stored in an electric database so that the data can be easily accessed by a means of a computer. Originally derived manually, corpus is now derived automatically from source texts. Corpus texts usually consist of millions of words and are not made up of the linguist’s or a native speaker’s invented examples but on naturally occurring spoken and written language.

What is corpus linguistics and why is it useful?
Corpus linguistics is the analysis of naturally occurring language usually carried out with specialised software programmes on a computer. It is thus a method used to obtain and analyse data quantitatively and qualitatively. The approach of corpus can be used to describe features of a language and in hypotheses testing found in various linguistic frameworks. To name but a few examples, corpora recording different stages of learner language (beginners, intermediate, and advanced learners) can provide information for foreign language acquisition research; it is possible to track the development of specific language features in the history of English like the emergence of the modal verbs ‘gonna’ and ‘wanna’ by using historical corpora; or the use of ‘like’ as a sociolinguistic discourse markers of specific age groups which can be can be investigated for sociolinguistic or discourse research purposes.

Types of corpora
General corpora contain a large variety of both written and spoken language, as well as different text types, by speakers of different ages, from different regions and from different social classes.
Synchronic corpora record language data collected for one specific point in time, e.g. written British and American English of the early 1990s.
Historical corpora consist of corpus texts from earlier periods of time. They usually span several decades or centuries, thus providing diachronic coverage of earlier stages of language.
Learner corpora are collections of data produced by foreign language learners, such as essays or written exams.
Corpora for the study of varieties represent different regional varieties of a language.

5. Points to consider when conducting corpus-linguistic research
• Adequate time is needed in order to conduct your corpus-linguistic research. Depending on your research question, you will need two or three weeks to analyse your features.
• Carefully choose your corpus: a large corpus is usually suitable for any kind of linguistic research (1,000,000 words or more), while a small corpus (200,000 to 500,000 words) may only be sufficient of the more common modal verbs.
• Know your corpus/corpora: text types, size, language variety, etc.
• Be careful to find all occurrences of your feature.
• Don’t over-generalise your results.


Anon., n.d. [Online] Available at: http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/CoRD/corpora/index.html.
Anon., n.d. [Online] Available at: www1.ids-mannheim.de/fileadmin/lehre/engelberg/Webseite…/Skript_02.pdf.
Barlow, M., 1996. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics. Corpora for Theory and Practice, pp. 1-37.
Cook, G., 1998. ELT Journal. the uses of reality: a reply to Ronald Carter.
Johns, T., 1991. English Language Research Journal. Should you be persuaded: Two samples of Data-Driven Learning, pp. 1-16.

Translation & Editing

Translating may be defined as the process of transforming signs or representation into other signs or representations. If the originals have some significance, we generally require that their images also have the same significance, or, more realistically, as nearly the same significance as we can get (1960: 104). This is the optimistic view which is reflected in Oettinger’s definition of translation.

Keeping significance invariant is the central problem in translating between natural languages.

Problems encountered during a translation process:
Pragmatic translation problems:
▷ Pragmatic translation problems arise from the differences between the non-textual situations and can be identified by checking the extra-textual
Cultural translation problems:
▷ Each culture has its own habits, norms and conventions.
Linguistic translation problems:
▷ Linguistic translation problems arise from structural differences in the vocabulary.
Factors to be taken into consideration for translation problems
• Actual context
• The rules of grammar of the two languages
• The spelling in the two languages
• Their writing conventions
• Meaning of idioms and phrases
• The usage of points and commas to separate decimals and thousands within numbers
• Culture of both languages

An editor is a person who corrects or changes pieces of texts before printing (Van de Poel, 2012:6). The verb “edits”:
• Refers to cutting and rearranging texts before printing them; and
• Embraces altering, adapting and refining the target text to suit a specific purpose (Van de Poel et al. 2012:7).
4 types of text editing
Copyediting: as discussed above: adapt text according to a set of rules: grammar spelling;
Stylistic editing: focus on sentence construction, vagueness, correct word choice and tone;
Structural editing: focus on reorganising material, hypothesis, solving the problem, arguments;
Content editing: check the facts and general content of the text.
Processes of editing
▷ Do a first fast reading
▷ Do an in-depth slow reading
▷ Correct tenses and grammar
▷ Question factual inaccuracies
▷ Spot copy right problems
▷ Shorten long sentences
▷ Eliminate excessive use of passive voice
▷ Check intention of client
▷ Do final proofreading
▷ Return document to client
▷ Respond to customer’s queries
The translator as the most essential key player in the translation situation, he/she can do or break a translated text. The role of the translator is crucial in the translation process. The translator is the apparent expert in the translational action and should be responsible both for carrying out the commissioned task and ensuring the result of the translation process.
Translators re-work texts that were already published and checked by editors; a text editor optimises the text in order to optimise the transmission of the message. A translator will also have to do cognitive revising adapting ideas where the source text is of a poor quality and thus also becomes an editor. stylistic editing becomes part of the job of the translator. Text editor adapts original text to ensure optimal communication. Unlike translators textual editors have same audience in mind as original writer.


Baker, M., 2011. In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation. 2nd ed. Abingdon,Oxon: Routledge.
House, J., 1981. A Model for Translating Quality Assessment. 2nd ed ed. Tubingen: Narr: s.n.
Munday, J., 2012. Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. 3rd ed. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Nord, C., 1988. Text Analysis in Translation. Theory, Methodology and Didactic Applicatiion of a Model for Translation-Oriented Text Analysis. Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi.
Nord, C., 1997. Translation Theories Explored. s.l.:St Jerome Publishing.
Oettinger, A. G., 1960. Automatic Language Translation. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press.
Van de Poel, K. C. W. &. L. J., 2012. Text editing: A handbook for students and practitioners. Cape Town: Digital print solution.
Vermeer, H. J., 1989. Article specially written for the volume, outlining two central concepts in the theory of translational action: the ‘skopos’and the commission or translation brief. Skopos and commission in translation action, in Chesterman.

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