Linguistik online 37, 1/09
limited that they were unable to provide as many senses as those given by group A. Yet when it comes to the question of which (sub)group is closer to the 30 optimal translations corresponding to the 30 Arabic sentences, we shall get a completely different picture. Table 4 below summarizes the results:
No. of students
Total no. of appropriate collocations
Average of appropriate collocations per one student for a single item
Table 4: Total no. of appropriate collocations given by (sub)groups and average of appropriate colloca- tions for a single lexical item given by one student
Table 4 should enable us to draw conclusions on the basis of comparing averages of selected items per one student in the (sub)group, irrespective of approximation to the required sense by each of the 30 sentences (as shown in table 3), with those of table 4, viz. averages of selected items per one student in the (sub)group in regard to how close the students were to the optimal sense relations. To draw a simple comparison more lucidly, an average student from A1 sub-group, for example, can select 3.0 appropriate senses from the dictionary in an attempt to translate 10 collocations for a single lexical item on average, whereas an average student from group B1 can retrieve from memory only 1.425. Without carrying out any statistical test, it is crystal clear that the performance of subjects in B1 is doubly poor. To reiterate, the students in B1, categorized as top, have just been judged tentatively that they seem to be slightly better than those in A1, again top, because they selected fewer senses on average and hence assumed to be better guided by their linguistic repertoire, i.e., mental lexicon. But selecting fewer senses is by no means an indicator of better proficiency; for if we reversed the two settings, group A might have chosen fewer senses in the absence of a dictionary. The same argument, however, applies to the rest of the sub-groups, a gloomy picture indeed. Yet it remains to say that he results are suggestive rather than conclusive because our sample is so small and, perhaps, our tested examples are not part of an examination. As such, novice translators, including our university students, are not to be blamed for their poor performance. Perhaps instructors, who often complain about their students' poor achievements in training courses, are held responsible for quality. We shall leave justifications in the background!
The two authors set out to resolve a disputed issue between them, viz. whether the translation product of a group of 4th year students using a general-purpose dictionary, whether bilingual or monolingual, is any better than those using only their minds, i.e. the mental lexicon. These two conflicting views have already been tested by Rangelova/Echeandia (2003) who hypothesized that "dictionary entries are not representative of the way humans link words together in their minds" (2001: 2). Although the dictionary-based and the dictionary-free views are mainly linked with test sessions in our case, the two authors decided to verify the