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Linguistik online 37, 1/09

grown out of the feeling that learners of English as a foreign or second language, including advanced learners and professional translators, continuously stumble over which words go hand in hand with which appropriately (cf. Taiwo 2004; Koosha/Jafarpour 2006; Hüttner 2005; Walsh 2005; Millar 2005; Martyńska 2004; Lindquist 2003; Wray 2000; Macedo 2000; Bahns 1993, inter alia). Research in especially applied linguistics, translation included, has focused on several themes, on top of which stands the notion of competence. Testing collocational knowledge, both monolingually and/or interlingually, is attested in the literature (cf. Jaén, 2007; Brashi, 2005; Mahmoud 2005; Farghal/Obiedat 1995; Farghal/Shakir 1992f., inter alia). The majority of tests made available are elicitation tests, both productive and receptive, whose overall purpose is to measure the degree of competence in the learner's linguistic repertoire and hence the forwarding of suggestions and/or teaching techniques in an attempt to remedy the problems learners and trainee translators face (cf. Al-Sibai 2009; Mahmoud 2005; Sarikaş 2006, among others). As such, error analysis has become fashionable but, additionally, a number of pedagogy researchers have focused on the strategies learners adopt while translating from and into English or consulting, as well as evaluating, general-purpose dictionaries in the absence of specialized collocational dictionaries such as the ones mentioned above (see, e.g. Vrbinc 2005; Hafiz 2002; 2004).

The present paper follows suit, but the objective is totally different. By measuring the collocational knowledge of undergraduate students, the tests conducted in this paper are used as a means to a different end (cf. Bahumaid 2006). The results of the tests are taken as an index to the reliability of either the general-purpose dictionary use or the mental lexicon in translating Arabic collocations into English. In other words, we intend to measure dictionary- based vs. dictionary-free collocational knowledge of translation trainees. As such, section two of this paper outlines the issue at stake, i.e. the rationale behind our attempt and hence the hypothesis. Section three reports on the subjects being experimented and the design exploited. Section four introduces the test material along with few remarks on reasons behind the authors' choice. While section five displays the results obtained and discusses their significance, section six concludes the paper with a number of suggestions. The Appendix attached to the paper is meant to show the reader an optimal translation of the 30 Arabic sentences into English, irrespective of how close to Standard Arabic they are.


The Issue at Stake: The Rationale

It goes without saying that consulting specialized and/or bilingual dictionaries in training translation classes is as important as using one's mind in search of meaning. This is a widely held view among translation practitioners (cf. Abu-Ssaydeh 2007; Sánchez Ramos 2005; McKeon/Radev 2000; Hussein 1998). But when it comes to the question of whether or not using a dictionary in an examination relevant to previous training, conflicts between respective adherents may arise. This is exactly what the present paper addresses in relation to the translation of Arabic collocations into English. The rationale behind this piece of research was initially motivated by two controversial views held by the two authors. The first, advocated by the first author, claims that more efficient translations can be done without the use of a dictionary in test sessions. The claim is based on the belief that the students who have already had access to general-purpose dictionaries during training must be linguistically and psychologically ready to take an examination without using a dictionary; for it is, above all, assumed that they have possessed a considerable amount of vocabulary during their past 15 years of learning English as a foreign language. The claim derives its strength from higher grades scored by a number of 3rd-year undergraduates taking an Arabic-English translation course with the first author who, in contradistinction to the rest of their classmates, opted for not using the dictionary. It should be noted, however, that those who chose to translate on a dictionary-free basis were mostly top students. The second, subscribed by the second author,

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