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Linguistik online 37, 1/09

results obtained by Rangelova/Echeandia. Our ultimate goal is, therefore, not the identification of translation errors and their classification, e.g. Hussein (1998); Al- Hamly/Farghal (2008); Shin 2007; Hemchua/Schmitt (2006); Li (2005); Kasuya (2000; 2008), inter alia. We neither intend to suggest remedies for the problems novice translators face, nor explore the strategies adopted by novice translators, e.g. Zughoul/Abdul-Fattah (2003). Equally so, it is neither designed to propose strategies for improving dictionary use (cf. Roberts 1992), nor meant to assess the utility of any available dictionary along the lines of, e.g. Abu-Ssaydeh (2007) or Rangelova/Echeandia (2003). Rather, it is intended to test the collocational knowledge of two groups of university undergraduates based on their translation output in order to answer one simple question: Should dictionaries be allowed in test sessions at the time learners have already had 15 years of exposure to English vocabulary?


Population and Design of the Study

To achieve the main objective of the study, two separate collocational tests were conducted on two different groups of four-year students majoring in English language and literature at the Hasehmite University, Jordan. All the 71 subjects tested had no previous formal training in translating collocations from Arabic into English or vice versa, but had already passed a general English-Arabic translation course in their third year. The first test, being dictionary- based, was conducted on a group comprising 31 students in 2005 whereas the second test, dictionary-free, on a group comprising 40 students in November 2008. Although it is widely held that 4th-year undergraduates represent relatively a homogenous society, the researchers intended to verify the claim by splitting the testees' performance in each test into three units according to the grades obtained in previous translation examinations. So for each level, viz. very good, good and average, we get two corresponding sub-groups, i.e. very good vs. very good, good vs. good and average vs. average. Such a one-to-one correspondence is not trivial; for it will enable us to draw conclusions in terms of the students' level of performance prior to coming up with the intended generalizations across the two major groups, viz., A & B whose sub-groups are correspondingly labeled A1, A2 and A3 vs. B1, B2 and B3. In order to verify the above claim, we need to find out: (1) whether or not the grades obtained previously in translation examinations correlate with the performance of each sub-group in translating Arabic collocations into English; and (2) the extent to which students in each sub-group agree collectively on the required sense equivalent(s) and hence a legitimate comparison between corresponding sub-groups and the two major groups. Because the two tests were not part of an examination, the students were encouraged to do their best in the test. They were told that 1-5 marks would be given as a bonus depending on the quality of their performance. They had never been made aware that the test was run for experimental purposes, designed in such a way as to measure their knowledge of Arabic and/or English collocations or intended to see how well one group would use any bilingual or general-purpose monolingual dictionary and the other would only use their mental linguistic repertoire. So the two tests, each of which took one hour to finish, was quite serious and competitive.


Test Material

The researchers agreed on testing the translation potential of only three lexical items: two Arabic verbs and one verbal noun, each contextualized in ten different sentences. All the 30 sentences (see Appendix) were assumed to be common to the testees. The three lexical items, viz. /đaraba/ 'hit', /ħaşara/ 'enclose' and /taxfiif/ 'diluting', the general meanings of which are given here for convenience, were chosen on purpose. Because they are polysemous, i.e. display multiple senses, the range of collocability is expected to be wider and hence requiring a considerable search for the best collocating sense in a manual/electronic dictionary and, to a lesser degree, the mental lexicon. In fact, both Wehr (1994) and Baalbaki (1995) list over 100

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