Rethinking Translators: Constraints, Affordances, Postures


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
  • Chengyu Alex FANG (Supervisor)
  • Dominic Stephen GLYNN (External person) (External Co-Supervisor)
Award date5 Jan 2024


This thesis explores the significance of constraints, affordances, and the notion of translator's posture in Translation Studies, revealing implications for research, pedagogy, and practical application independent of specific language pairs or directions. It explores the challenges translation learners and educators face in operationalising or teaching various forms of constraints and proposes a pedagogical approach to address these challenges. The study emphasises an eco-systemic, relational perspective of translators and translation events, allowing learners to observe and react to constraints from within working environments via posture and optimality-based deliberation. The general interpretation of constraints as restricting elements does not capture an empowering feature; befriending translation constraints enables translators to perceive affordances, exclude less feasible options, and enact a course of action. Complementing the ability to identify constraints with understanding how they manifest in each sub-environment enables learners to develop self-reflective and metacognitive abilities in translation practice. Working effectively with constraints contributes to the strategic dimension of translation competence. Translators can set and refine their posture to enhance their strategic perceptive abilities. Posture influences translators' choices and helps them befriend constraints, present rationales behind decisions, and communicate more effectively with stakeholders. In this light, the concept of translator's posture emerges as a central theme. Apart from postural learning, the concept encompasses translators' social and professional roles and decision-making in translation events. After collecting data from a discovery-based curriculum activity conducted at a university in Hong Kong, where translation students simulated a real translation commission, findings indicate that postural didactics and pedagogy would be a welcome addition to translation curricula, creating the basis for further applications and interdisciplinary research.