Lost in Translation: Erroneous Use of Australian Professional Terms in Public Korean Texts

When:13 May 2014, 3pm - 4pm
Venue:Quadrangle 1001 (map Ref E15)
Who:Dr. Seong-Chul Shin, Korean Studies, UNSW
seong-chul seminar

Interpreting & Translation Seminar

Abstract: This paper aims to examine professional terms and concepts used in Australian Government texts translated into Korean, with a focus on socio-educational concerns and professional practices. Recent observations have witnessed extensive cases of the distortion and mistranslation of various Australian terms and concepts in the translated version of governmental documents, community media, training and publicity materials. Currently, Australian Government texts translated into Korean by individual translators and the community media are published in various text types without any linguistic monitoring system. Distortions or mistranslations of terminologies can be caused by a number of factors, including false equivalents and lack of cultural or contextual understanding as well as lexico-semantic knowledge. To examine this, the study takes an empirical and ‘bottom-up’ action research approach. An error analysis of Australian terms in translated Australian Government texts (over 40,000 Korean word-units) is used to generate a list of terms under specific topics. The analysis identifies Australian professional terms used in two areas, immigration and social welfare, by examining online public texts from Australian Government departments. By using an error analysis method, the study identifies 222 erroneous terms for analysis and describes them in five categories, then explains linguistic and socio-cultural (i.e. contextual) accounts as to why it is considered distorted or inappropriate and which term would be more appropriate. It then discusses the implications of these findings in relation to professional practices and socio-educational contexts.


Dr Seong-Chul Shin

Dr Seong-Chul Shin is a Senior Lecturer in Korean Studies at the School of Humanities and Languages. He has a PhD in Linguistics from UNSW, a Master of Applied Linguistics from Macquarie University and a Master of Education in Korean as a Foreign Language from Yonsei University in Seoul. His research areas include error analysis and teaching methodology in L2 Korean; curriculum issues in Korean at both secondary and tertiary levels; sociolinguistic issues with reference to Korean L2 contexts. Currently, he is working on a research project focused on erroneous translation of Australian professional terms and concepts (with Brad Wilke) and two other projects on remedial teaching and perceptions of difficulty.

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