Translation Competence Development

Claudia F Hegrenæs
In her dissertation PhD Candidate Claudia Förster Hegrenæs operationalizes the concept of cognitive resources to explore the developmental process of professional translation competence. Hegrenæs is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, NHH. Photo: Sigrid Folkestad
PhD Defense

26 October 2018 11:26

Translation Competence Development

On Friday 9 November 2018 Claudia Förster Hegrenæs will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend her thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:

Metaphor in translation: Challenges in measuring competence development

Trial lecture:

10:15 in Jebsen Centre, NHH

Title of the thesis:

Translation Competence Development and the Distribution of Cognitive Effort: An Explorative Study of Student Translation Behavior


Professional translation is distinct from bilingual language use. It involves more than rendering text from one language into another. Translation competence models picture an interwoven system of psychological, physiological, cognitive and linguistic sub-competencies differentiating the bilingual speaker from the translator. In other words, professional translation competence is the result of a developmental process from being bilingual to being a translator.

The development of professional competence of any kind is characterized by the acquisition and operationalization of new knowledge and competences, as well as the restructuring of existing knowledge to adapt to the specific requirements of the profession. This process requires cognitive resources, which are assumed to be limited.

This dissertation operationalizes the concept of cognitive resources to explore the developmental process of professional translation competence. The distribution of cognitive resources during specific translation operations (as indicated by production times) is investigated in students of translation (English-German, English-Norwegian) at different levels of their education (1st, 2nd, 3rd year). Do less experienced students resort to cognitively less demanding translation operations, because cognitive resources are tied up in the acquisition and restructuring of knowledge to develop (an unspecified level of) the different competences which form the construct of professional translation competence? Do experienced students, on the other hand, perform cognitively demanding translation operations, which evidence professional development, because knowledge structures and competences are acquired and cognitive resources are freed?

The study finds that all participant groups, irrespective level of experience, resort to cognitively less demanding translation operations. A three-year training period does not appear to be sufficient to implement the necessary level of professional knowledge and competences to re-distribute cognitive resources. However, the results also suggest that it is not the allocation of cognitive resources, but some form of linguistic and conceptual formal relationship between the original text and the translated text that governs the students' translation behavior.


12:15 in Jebsen Centre, NHH

Members of the evaluation committee:

Professor Gisle Andersen (leader of the committee), Department of Professional and Intercultural Communication, NHH

Professor Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow, ZHAW School of Applied Linguistics

Professor emerita Christina Schaeffner, Aston University


Professor Sandra Louise Halverson (main supervisor), Department of Language, Literature, Mathematics and Interpreting, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Professor Sunniva Whittaker, dean at Faculty of Humanities and Education, UiA

Professor Torodd Kinn, Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, UiB

The trial lecture and thesis defence will be open to the public. Copies of the thesis will be available from