27 February, 2011

Lec.2 - LANE 334-EA-2011- Syntax: Transformational Grammar

Transformational Grammar
The transformational grammar was a theory of how grammatical knowledge is represented and processed in the brain. Developed by Noam Chomsky in the1960's, the transformational grammar consisted of:
1.   Two levels of representation of the structure of sentences:
·        an underlying, more abstract form, termed 'deep structure', and
·        the actual form of the sentence produced, called 'surface structure'.
The DEEP STRUCTURE is represented in the form of a hierarchical tree diagram, illustrating the abstract grammatical relationships between the words and phrases within a sentence.
2.   A system of formal rules specifying how deep structures are to be transformed into surface structures.
Consider the two sentences:
a)           "Steven wrote a book on language" and
b)            "A book on language was written by Steven."
Chomsky held that there is a deeper grammatical structure from which both these sentences are derived. The transformational grammar provides a characterization of this common form and how it is manipulated to produce actual sentences.
Take the sentence "Who will John see." This corresponds to its surface structure. According to the transformational grammar, we form this sentence by unconsciously applying transformation rules to the underlying deep structure given in the phrase structure tree of the form "John will see who." In this particular case, the transformation rule applied is termed "Wh-movement."
The transformational grammar formed the basis for many succeeding theories of human grammatical knowledge. Since Chomsky's original presentation, many different theories have emerged. Although current theories differ significantly from the original, the notion of a transformation remains a central element in most models.
Grammatical Knowledge

One of Chomsky's most influential and controversial views is that all human languages have a structure in common called universal grammar. A number of different lines of evidence help support this view. All normal speakers of a language have extensive knowledge of its grammatical structure (or syntax).

For example, any speaker of English knows that 'He loves her' is grammatical, while 'Him loves she' is not. This knowledge of syntax can be quite simple.  The results of removing the word 'that' from the sentence 'the dog that I saw has rabies' is a new sentence that is still well formed. But 'that' cannot be removed from the sentence 'the dog that bit me has rabies'. Although most of us are unable to explain the rule that governs when 'that' may be safely deleted from a sentence, we are all able to recognize which sentences are correct and which sentences are not correct. This ability to distinguish well formed from ill formed sentences is called our linguistic competence.

Competence - Performance Distinction
Linguistic competence is not always reflected in actual speech. Our linguistic performance is peppered with 'ums' and 'ahs', false starts and sentence fragments. Nevertheless, when asked, we are still able to judge the difference between those utterances that live up to the rules of English and those that do not. Although we are probably not consciously aware of any of these rules, our unconscious mastery of them is revealed in our linguistic competence.

Lec.1 - LANE 334-EA-2011- Syntax: Introduction

Within theoretical linguistics, syntax is the study of the architecture of phrases, clauses, and sentences. The modern roots of the study of syntax can be traced to the pioneering work of Noam Chomsky, who in 1957 wrote Syntactic Structures. Chomsky changed the face of linguistics by casting its domain inwardly. That is, the concern shifted from describing external language phenomena to characterizing the mental machinery that supposed to explain the native speakers' knowledge of language.

1. Dillon and Joelle went to the beach
2. [*]Dillon and Joelle put to the beach
Our intuitions about English (driven by our unconscious linguistic knowledge) allow us to effortlessly judge (1) as acceptable (i.e., grammatical, well formed) and (2) as unacceptable (i.e., ungrammatical, ill formed-signified by an *). If you were asked why this is so, you might hypothesize that "sentence (1) is well formed and sentence (2) is not because they have different verbs." But such a statement doesn't really tell us anything substantial; it's just a description of the difference between the two sentences. For example, to explain the grammaticality of (1) and the ungrammaticality of (2), we would have to know something about how we acquire the lexical category of verbs, how phrasal categories are constructed out of lexical categories, how each verb picks its linguistic environment (some verbs go with some phrases and some go with other phrases, to which both [1] and [2] attest), and how this information comes together to yield knowledge of the grammatical sentences of a language. Later, the theoretical machinery that some syntacticians claim is necessary to explain the facts about (1) and (2) will be described.
Our syntactic knowledge also allows us to go beyond making judgments about whole sentences. If (1) were to be divided into two sections, where would the division occur? It is very likely that the sentence would be divided between its subject (Dillon and Joelle) and its predicate (went to the beach). Thus, a first pass at the syntactic structure of the sentence might be:
3. [[Dillon and Joelle] [went to the beach]]
Note that the outer set of brackets marks out the entire sentence and the inner sets of brackets divide the sentence up into further parts. But why wouldn't (1) be divided into the following?:
4. [*][[Dillon and] [Joelle went to the beach]] or
5. [*][[Dillon and Joelle went] [to the beach]]
Sentence (1) would likely be divided as (3) and not as (4) or (5) because you have the mental capacity to effortlessly know that (3) yields well-formed parts (or constituents) and (4) and (5) do not. Now take what we have called the predicate and divide it further, into two parts:
6. [[went] [to the Beach]]
What we have done in (6) is to divide the predicate into a verb (went, the past tense of go) and a prepositional phrase (to the Beach). And, of course, we can further divide the prepositional phrase into a preposition (to) and its noun phrase object (the Beach).
Our grammatical knowledge also allows us to make judgments about reference; we know that some lexical items refer to others in the same sentence or in the discourse (i.e., extra-sentential reference). For example:
7. Dillon hit himself
8. Dillon hit him
We know that himself must refer to Dillon in (7), yet in (8) we know that him cannot refer to Dillon.
Our syntactic knowledge also allows us to make judgments of "sameness of meaning." For example:
9. Dillon hit Joelle
10. Joelle was hit by Dillon
We know that although the focus may be different in (9) and (10), the basic meaning is the same.
Finally, our syntactic knowledge allows us to recognize structural ambiguities, sometimes subtle ones:
11. The mechanic fixed the car in the garage
If some thought is given to what (11) can, in principle, mean, we come to the conclusion that it can mean either something like "it was in the garage where the mechanic fixed the car" or it can mean "it was the car in the garage (instead of the car outside the garage) that the mechanic fixed." These meanings, as we shall see later, are reflected by where the prepositional phrase (in the car) fits into the phrasal geometry of the sentence.
It is likely the reader cannot verbalize the rules and principles that the judgments about examples (1)-(11) were based on, basically because knowledge of language is tacit or unconscious. The job of the theoretical syntactician is to observe, hypothesize, and test what this knowledge consists of.
Lexical and Functional Categories
Categories are theoretical constructs that linguists use to explain the fact that some words behave differently than others. Instead of using vague notions like "nouns are persons, places, or things" (the word run can be a noun or a verb), "verbs refer to actions" (destruction is an "action," but is actually a noun), and "prepositions are words referring to locations" (La Jolla is a location, but is a noun), linguists have looked to phonological, morphological, and distributional evidence to determine or rationalize lexical categorization, or parts of speech. For example, phonologically, the primary stress often falls on the first syllable of multisyllabic nouns (e.g., PERmits, RECords), yet on verbs the primary stress often falls on the second syllable (e.g., perMITS, reCORDS).
Morphologically, nouns can be pluralized (boys, women) and verbs cannot. Nouns and verbs can form complex words made up of more than one morpheme, but prepositions cannot; they are invariant.
Distributionally, nouns occur in particular and in different parts of a sentence than do verbs; thus, they cannot be substituted for each other (they are said to be in complementary distribution). For example, nouns can be pre-modified by adjectives (very big boy, pretty woman, etc.) yet verbs cannot ([*]very big know); nouns can be quantified and specified (e.g., made definite or indefinite) (e.g., the boy, a boy), yet verbs cannot ([*]a / the know). So, a verb cannot be substituted for a noun, and vice versa (Dillon kissed Joelle, [*]Kissed Dillon Joelle).
 Indeed, substitution is one constituency test that linguists use to help determine the category of a lexical item.
Because of these phonological, morphological, and distributional facts, linguists have hypothesized a limited set of lexical categories such as Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Prepositions, as well as a set of functional categories like Determiners (the, this, some, many, etc.), Complementizers (that, whether, for, etc.), and Inflections (modals such as will and should, for example, and tense and agreement morphemes). Claiming that there are distinct categories that behave differently allows the linguist to make general statements, like "nouns can be pluralized, verbs cannot." Such general statements allow lexical items to be represented economically. For example, because only nouns can be pluralized, it is not necessary to represent the plural noun separately from its singular version. All that is needed is a representation of the singular noun and a rule that states that nouns can be pluralized; this will automatically generate the plural form for the noun. Importantly, this productive mechanism simplifies the acquisition process that the child undergoes. That is, the child does not need to "memorize" each plural form for each singular noun counterpart; all the child needs to know is the rule for the plural and the fact that any noun can have a plural form (although the child will indeed have to memorize irregular forms). This emphasis on language acquisition forms the basis for much of linguistic theory.


Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, Apr97, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p254, 19p.
Item: 9710295746

Defining Translators: LANE 462, FA + HA, Term 2- Year 2011- Lecture 2

Defining Translators


Translation means the transfer of written messages from one language to another, while interpreting refers to the transfer of spoken messages. Sometimes 'translation' is used as a generic term covering both practices, but when hiring someone's services it will be less confusing if you distinguish between these different skills.

  • Give you access to documents written in a language you don't understand
  • Enable you to communicate your views in another language
  • Enhance the image of your company or organization by producing a professional document that is accurate and uses a style and terminology that are consistent and appropriate for your target audience
  • Help sell your products or services and ensure that a bad translation does not compromise your reputation or the quality of your products or service
  • Save you money by reducing the number of errors in your documents and eliminating delays and the need for expensive patch-up jobs later
  • Save you the worry and problems that arise from working with amateurs
  •  Save you from possible embarrassment by pointing out any problems in cross-cultural communication.
If you care about the quality of the end product, it is essential to use a professional translator rather than somebody who simply has a knowledge of two languages.


  • A sophisticated understanding of the foreign language

  • An ability to transfer ideas expressed in one language into an equally meaningful form in the other language

  •  An above-average capacity to write well in the target language (the language in which the translation is written), using language appropriate for the topic and readership

  •  Broad general knowledge

  • A sound knowledge of the two cultures involved

  •  Mental agility

  • Sensitivity and attention to detail

  •  An understanding of specialized terminology in the field of the translation and a willingness to do further research if necessary

  • Training or experience.
Translation is more than just a mechanical exercise in looking up words in a dictionary and substituting the grammatical constructions of one language for those of another. Often there is no one-to-one equivalence between words in different languages - for instance, a particular word might have different emotional connotations in the other language. A professional translator will be aware of these potential difficulties and know how to cope with them.

Accuracy, logic and clarity in expression are key characteristics of a good translation, along with an appropriate tone and level of language (e.g., level of formality or technicality). On-time delivery is also essential. Above all, a translation must fulfill the function you require of it. With a translation for use in court, accuracy will be of paramount importance, even if the translation reads somewhat awkwardly, whereas with texts for publication it is vital that the translation reads smoothly. Tell the translator about your needs, what and who the translation is for, and what you expect the final product to look like. This won't take a minute, but could save you a great deal of money and frustration and will help ensure a good translation.


It is very rare for a translator to be able to translate equally well in both directions, even if both languages are spoken fluently. Writing well, with correct grammar and full expressiveness, requires particular skills and greater expertise than spoken fluency. In general, a translator working into his or her native language is less likely to make grammatical errors, and is more likely to be able to produce text in the desired style of the target language and/or market. Conversely, a translator working from his or her native language is less likely to make mistakes in comprehension of the source text, but is more likely to make grammatical errors and to be limited in his or her command of syntax and style in producing the translation. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, as some non-native writers are indeed capable of producing fine text, and even native readers may on occasion misunderstand the source text they are reading. In addition, in certain specialized fields it is simply not possible to find a good translator who is a native speaker of the target language and has the requisite field-specific knowledge to understand the topic.

How much will it cost?

• Translators normally charge based on either the length of the source text or the length of the target text.
• The billing unit varies from translator to another (e.g., per word, 100 or 1,000 words, character, byte, line or page)
• Qualified translators cost more, but paying less means incomplete work with weaknesses.

 How long will it take?
• The time varies from a translator to another

• The average is 10 pages a day

• However, specialized translators are expected to work more rapidly

 Is it acceptable for the translator to make changes to the text?

• Slight changes are acceptable as long as the intended meaning is conveyed
• Beside the intended meaning, making the text more suitable for the target audience allows slight changes according to the target culture to avoid communication breakdown caused by cultural differences
• On the other hand, there shouldn't be major changes between the two texts.

 Should the translation be checked?

• If the translator does not have a full written competence, the translation is better checked by a native speaker.
• Even with natives, having a second ‘checker’ is advisable for more accuracy
• Beside being a native speaker, the ‘checker’ should be an experienced translator or editor to monitor the work.
• If the translation is for publication, having a professional ‘checker’ is necessary
• For legal purposes, the translator can provide a notarized statement that the translation is true and accurate to the best of his or her knowledge.

 Selecting a freelance translator

To select a regular translator, his/her qualifications, and his/her linguistic & subject expertise should be ascertained through the following procedure:

 to keep an eye out for good translations in a related field and track down the translator if possible

 to ask potential translators for references or samples of work they have already done (both source &target texts)

 to have prospective translators do a half-page sample text, then show the translation to a language-sensitive native speaker of the target language

 to verify the translator’s capabilities through cross-checks and on-going checks.

Working with a translation company

• Translation companies offer additional services and quality control, and have the facilities to provide camera-ready artwork and can handle large volumes, tight deadlines and complex or unusual subjects.

• However, some translation companies rely on both freelance and in-house translators, so a person should be careful when selecting the company.

• Translation companies are more expensive than working with a translator directly.

• It is recommended to be consistent in working with a specific company.

 Helping your translator helps you

The more preparation and corporation a person does with his /her translator, the better the outcome is:

1. Before assigning the work to a translator

 Take a particular care the original text is written clearly and unambiguously

 Don’t send a document till the prospective translator is available

 Show the translator the actual document in advance

 Provide clearly legible text (i.e. not a handwritten copy or a third generation faxes, etc.)

 If the material is to be published, agree on who will do the proofreading (the translator or a third party?)

2. Information to provide the translator

 Brief your translator on the purpose of the translation (e.g. whether it is for information, publication, etc.)

 Clearly mark any sections that are not to be translated

 Let the translator know if the terminology should confirm to any specific requirement

 Provide the translator with as much background material as possible (e.g. related correspondence, specifications, relevant web site details)

 Inform the translator of any particular style that should be followed.

 Brief the translator fully on any particular layout requirements (i.e. handling of tables and diagrams)

 Inform the translator of any software requirements (e.g. preferred word-processing)

 Provide sufficient context (not a list of isolated items or an extract from a text)

 Provide any drawings, illustrations, table or graphs that may help explain the rest of the text.

 Give the name and the number of a contact person in case the translator needs to clarify something

 Let the translator know if the source text and the reference material should be returned.

3. Deadlines and financial arrangements

 Allow sufficient time in the documentation schedule for translation

 Agree on a realistic deadline before the translator starts working.

 The translator may be better paid for the time involved, and not for the length

 Decide whether the translation is for information purposes only or publication, and allocate the budget accordingly (i.e. the former is less expensive)

 Agree on financial arrangements in advance

4. General tips

 Understand that if translators ask you questions, it does not mean they are incompetent.

 Don’t try to economize by asking your translator to compromise on quality

 Beware of splitting large jobs between several different translators.

 With translated text that is for publication, it is a good idea to show the proofs to the translator before going to press.

 B willing to give feedback once the job has been completed.

What about format qualifications for translators?
Qualified translators are one of the following:

• those who have studied translation courses academically

• those who have professional and technical background

• those who pass the accreditation test

• those who have experience in a particular field in which s/he has a good reputation of being a qualified translator.

 Translator ethics

Translators operate under general principles:

• not to disclose information acquired in the course of their work

• not to undertake work that is beyond their ability

• to be accurate

• to be responsible for the quality of their work

• to continue developing their professional knowledge and skills

• to respect and support their fellow professionals

Is machine translation a viable alternative?

• Machine translation works on basic and uncomplicated texts which are written according to strictly controlled guidelines

• But, it does not work with authentic or complex texts that encompass a full range of expression and ambiguity

• Using machine translation requires extensive pre-editing and post-editing by human experts.


To define translators, we need to differentiate between translators & interpreters; identify the role of translators, identify the qualities of a good translation, list the characteristics of a good translation; determine to what extent the translator can work in both languages; determine the cost; determine the time needed for translation; determine the degree of freedom the translator has to change the text; determine whether or no the translation should be checked; define the procedure of selecting a freelance translator; decide whether or not to work with a translation company; define translators qualifications and ethics; and decide whether machine translation a viable alternative or not.

23 February, 2011

CRITICAL THINKING:LANE-462-FA + HA - Term2- 2011- Lec. 1-

Critical thinking is a cognitive activity, associated with using the mind. Learning to think in critically analytical and evaluative ways means using mental processes such as attention, categorization, selection, and judgment. However, many people who have the potential to develop more effective critical thinking can be prevented from doing so for a variety of reasons apart from a lack of ability. In particular, personal and emotional, or 'affective', reasons can create barriers.

Critical Thinking as a Process
Critical thinking is a complex process of deliberation which involves a wide range of skills and attitudes. It includes:

·        identifying other people's positions, arguments and conclusions;
·        evaluating the evidence for alternative points of view;
·         weighing up opposing arguments and evidence fairly;
·        being able to read between the lines, seeing behind surfaces, and identifying false or unfair assumptions;
·        recognizing techniques used to make certain positions more appealing than others, such as false logic and persuasive devices;
·        reflecting on issues in a structured way, bringing logic and insight to bear;
·        drawing conclusions about whether arguments are valid and sensible assumptions;
·        presenting a point of view in a structured, clear, well-reasoned way that convinces others.
Skepticism and trust
Ennis (1987) identified a range of dispositions and abilities associated with critical thinking.
These focused on:
·        the ability to reflect skeptically;
·        the ability to think in a reasoned way.
Skepticism in critical thinking means bringing an element of polite doubt. In this context, skepticism doesn't mean you must go through life never believing anything you hear and see. That would not be helpful. It does mean holding open the possibility that what you know at a given time may be only part of the picture.
Critical thinking gives you the tools to use skepticism and doubt constructively so that you can analyze what is before you. It helps you to make better and more informed decisions about whether something is likely to be true, effective or productive. Ultimately, in order to function in the world, we have to accept the probability that at least some things are as they seem. This requires trust. If we can analyze clearly the basis of what we take as true, we are more able to discern when it is reasonable to be trusting and where it is useful to be skeptical.
Method Rather Than Personality Trait
Some people seem to be more naturally skeptical whilst others find it easier to be trusting. These differences may be because of past experiences or personality traits. However, critical thinking is not about natural traits or personality; it is about a certain set of methods aimed at exploring evidence in a particular way. Skeptical people can require structured approaches that help them to trust in the probability of an outcome, just as those who are more trusting require methods to help them use doubt constructively.
Critical Thinking and Argument
The focus of critical thinking is often referred to as the 'argument'. The argument can be thought of as the message that is being conveyed, whether through speech, writing, performance, or other media. Critical thinking helps you to identify the obvious and the hidden messages more accurately, and to understand the process by which an argument is constructed.

Knowing Our Own Reasons

Critical thinking is associated with reasoning or with our capacity for rational thought. The word ‘rational’ means 'using reasons’ to solve problems. Reasoning starts with ourselves. It includes:
·        having reasons for what we believe and do, and being aware of what these are;
·        critically evaluating our own beliefs and actions;
·        being able to present to others the reasons for our beliefs and actions.
This may sound easy, as we all assume we know what we believe and why. However, sometimes, when we are challenged on why we believe that something is true, it becomes obvious to us that we haven't really thought through whether what we have seen or heard is the whole story or is just one point of view. There are also likely to be occasions when we find we are not sure what we consider to be the right course of action or a correct interpretation. It is important to examine the basis of our own beliefs and reasoning, as these will be the main vantage points from which we begin any critical analysis.

Critical Analysis of Other People's Reasoning
Critical reasoning usually involves considering other people's reasoning. This requires the skill of grasping an overall argument, but also skills in analyzing and evaluating it in detail.
Critical analysis of other people's reasoning can involve:
·        identifying their reasons and conclusions;
·        analyzing how they select, combine and order reasons to construct a line of reasoning;
·        evaluating whether their reasons support the conclusions they draw;
·        evaluating whether their reasons are well-founded, based on good evidence;
·        identifying flaws in their reasoning.
Constructing and Presenting Reasons
Reasoning involves analyzing evidence and drawing conclusions from it. The evidence may then be presented to support the conclusion. For example, we may consider that it is a cold day. Someone who disagrees may ask why we believe this. We may use evidence such as a thermometer reading and observation of weather conditions. Our reasons may be that the temperature is low and there is ice on the ground. We use basic examples of reasoning such as this every day. For professional and academic work, we are usually required to present such reasoning using formal structures such as essays, or reports with recommendations. This requires additional skills such as knowing how to:
·        select and structure reasons to support a conclusion;
·        present an argument in a consistent way;
·        use logical order;
·        use language effectively to present the line of reasoning.

Benefits of critical thinking skills
Good critical thinking skills bring numerous benefits such as:
·        improve attention and observation
·        more focused reading
·        improved ability to identify the key points in a text or other message rather than becoming distracted by less important material
·        improved ability to respond to appropriate points in a message
·        knowledge of how to get your own point across more easily
·        skills of analysis that you can choose to apply in a variety of situations.

Benefits in Professional and Everyday Life
Skills in critical thinking bring precision to the way you think and work. You will find that practice in critical thinking helps you to be more accurate and specific in noting what is relevant and what is not. The skills listed above are useful to problem-solving and to project management, bringing greater precision and accuracy to different parts of a task.
Although critical thinking can seem like a slow process because it is precise, once you have acquired good skills, they save you time because you learn to identify the most relevant information more quickly and accurately.
Ancillary skills
Critical thinking involves the development of a range of ancillary skills such as:
·        observation
·        reasoning
·        decision-making
·        analysis
·        judgment
·        persuasion
Realistic Self-appraisal
It is likely that you already possess some or all of these skills in order to cope with everyday life, work or previous study. However, the more advanced the level of study or the professional area, the more refined these skills need to be. The better these skills are, the more able you are to take on complex problems and projects with confidence of a successful outcome.
It is likely that many people over-estimate the quality of the critical thinking they bring to activities such as reading, watching television, using the internet, or to work and study. It is not unusual to assume our point of view is well-founded, that we know best, and that we are logical and reasonable. Other people observing us may not share this view. A lack of self-awareness and weak reasoning skills can result in unsatisfactory appraisals at work or poor marks for academic work. Certainly, comments from lecturers indicate that many students are prevented from gaining better marks because their work lacks evidence of rigorous critical thinking.


Critical thinking assumes abilities in a range of skills such as categorizing, selection and differentiation, comparing and contrasting.
We use basic thinking skills in everyday life, usually with little difficulty. However, many people find it difficult to apply these same skills automatically to new contexts, such as more abstract problem-solving and academic study. This is partly because, although people use these skills in contexts familiar to them, they are not always sufficiently aware of the underlying strategies that they are using so as to be able to adapt them to new circumstances. The more used we are to applying skills easily in one context; the more difficult it can be to identify the underlying skills.

Critical thinking skills are based on underlying sets of thinking skills such as:
·        focusing attention so as to recognize the significance of fine details;
·        using attention to fine detail in order to recognize patterns, such as similarities and differences, absence and presence, order and sequence;
·        using recognition of pattern in order to compare and contrast items and to predict possible outcomes;
·        sorting and labeling items into groups, so that they form categories;
·        using an understanding of categories to identify the characteristics of new phenomena and make judgments about them.

These skills are not only useful for critical thinking in academic and professional life, but are tested as part of the procedures for selecting job applicants for interviews.

Aspects of the critical thinking process:
·        an analytical strategy for the material;
·        understanding of the wider context;
·        an evaluative and selective approach;
·        being self-critical about your own understanding, interpretation and evaluation.


Critical thinking is a process that relies upon, and develops, a wide range of skills and personal qualities. Like other forms of activity, it improves with practice and with a proper sense of what is required. For some people, this may mean changing behaviors such as paying attention to detail or taking a more skeptical approach to what they see, hear and read. Some need to focus on developing critical thinking techniques.
Developing good critical thinking skills can take patience and application. On the other hand, the rewards lie in improved abilities in making judgments, seeing more easily through flawed reasoning, making choices from a more informed position and improving your ability to influence others.
Critical Thinking Skills
Developing Effective Analysis and Argument
Stella Cottrell