Receptor expectations and interlingual translation reception
The fundamental question that this paper addresses is to what extent an individual’s judgment of incoming linguistic stimuli – in the form of a translation product – can be thought of as static and objective, as opposed to dynamic and subjectively constructed. By extension, this article proposes that rather than being viewed (solely) as displaying a set of stable features, the target text can be construed as a cognitive construct that is dynamically shaped. This proposition is tested against the cognitive mechanisms of expectations.
I discuss two empirical studies examining how expectations about the authorship of translation, and therefore its characteristics like quality, can influence the audience’s perception of the translation product. The question is examined for written translation (Study 1) and subtitling (Study 2). While in both cases, the central subject of inquiry are linguistic stimuli, in the latter case, these are embedded multimodally. The hypothesis is that generating certain product expectations through the use of linguistic cues will lead the audience to assess the product differently than in a condition where identical material is assessed without cuing or where opposite receptor expectations are generated. It is relevant to note that both experiments were conducted with students whose background included linguistics and translation. Such a participant profile could be associated with a more rigorously principled – and therefore stable – assessment of linguistic stimuli in both monosemiotic and polysemiotic contexts. This, in turn, would make our participants less susceptible to the effects of anticipatory cognition than would be the case with participants without formal training in the relevant fields.
Key words: language and cognition, judgment, audience, linguistically-triggered expectations, translation reception