Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 20, May, 2009

Harald Martin Olk

Translation, Cultural Knowledge and Intercultural Competence


The article suggests that translation can be a suitable activity to explore and develop aspects of foreign language studentsí intercultural competence. This point is illustrated with a study into the translation processes of British university students of German. As the study indicates, cultural knowledge problems impinged on the studentsí translation performance in various ways. Thus, frequently students did not seem to be sufficiently familiar with concepts of their native culture and with German standard terminology for British concepts. Furthermore, decisions as to whether German readers would comprehend transferred English terms were regularly based on a bilingual dictionary. This led to the transference of items which would probably be obscure for a fair proportion of German readers. Based on a discussion of these problems some suggestions for foreign language teaching practice are made.

Key words: Translation, intercultural competence, cultural knowledge, German, English, linguistic equivalence

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