Research


The GENTT (Textual Genres for Translation) Research Group works, from a conceptual point of view, on the notion of textual genre, a complex and versatile notion which permits us to raise the object of study from diverse perspectives. For us, genre is the real organizing principle of the investigation (see Borja, García Izquierdo & Montalt 2009:57):

Text genre is the main epistemological tool we use to approach the reality we call translation in an attempt to describe certain parts of it that we feel to be especially significant.

GENTT research is based upon the descriptive analysis as well as the applied investigation. Descriptive analysis, on the one hand, allows us to observe reality in order to extract knowledge from it. Applied investigation, on the other, contributes to the development of useful tools which ease the work of specialized translators.

Our scientific activity lies, therefore, on two pillars: the genre itself and the three phases of the research process as considered by the scientific community:

  1. Conceptual: GENTT follows the genre scientific tradition, starting from the textual approaches of translation (Hatim & Mason, 1990; Baker, 1992; Neubert & Shreve, 1992; Baker, 1992; Hatim & Mason, 1990; among others). With regard to the classical approaches to the study of genre, we combine the proposals of the Australian School (based on functional systemic Linguistics) with those adopted by the North American School (focused on the typification of the rhetorical action). 
  2. Empirical: From an empirical perspective, we work with a quantitative methodology (electronic corpora, statistics, readability tests and formulas, etc.) as well as with qualitative actions (focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, etc.); we also consider data “triangulation” (Patton 1987) and try to apply the results to real contexts so as to contribute to optimising the specialised translators’ work (action research).
  3. Interpretative: The object of our study affects the interpretative phase, which is thus reflected in the application development (the Corpus itself). Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of the data extracted from the previous phase is also included, by means of contrast hypothesis, reflection on the scope and limitations of the investigation, or the study of the possibilities opened after the acquisition of new knowledge, among other issues.

Research aspects

García Izquierdo (2002:15) defines ‘genre’ as:

[…] a conventionalised text form that has a specific function in the culture to which it belongs, and which reflects a purpose that is intended by the sender and can be foreseen by the receiver.

The concept of genre is described, consequently, as a central notion at which description converge other contextual notions which are relevant for textual analysis as much as for the analysis of translation as a text. In order to study the concept of genre in depth, we follow a holistic approach in which formal, communicative and cognitive aspects are deemed.

The formal aspects of genre are, probably, the most tangible, as they become directly and immediately apparent in the documents which belong to that genre. From the formal perspective, we deal with monolingual or contrastive (that is, multilingual) textual characterisations, as well as with the comparative analysis of transgenres and families of genres.

The communicative aspects of genre emanate from the difference between use (register) and user (dialect) suggested by Halliday, McIntosh & Stevens (1964) and enable the research of professional genres and their translation: the analysis of socio-cultural contexts and communicative situations in which genres are placed (in each language and contrastively), of transgenres and families of genres. But the study of the evolution (creation and disappearance) of genres is also relevant, as well as the important role played in socio-professional contexts.

Finally, regarding the cognitive aspects of genre (García Izquierdo, Montalt & Ezpeleta 2008; Borja, García Izquierdo & Montalt 2009; García Izquierdo & Montalt, 2014; Martí Ferriol, 2014), the possibilities are endless since genre is, above all, a cognitive tool which permits one to establish relations and hierarchies to knowledge continuum for this to be seized in a logic and systematic way. In this respect, factors that ease the understanding of genres can be analysed, in each language or contrastively, as well as cognitive transference, mental schemes and models or the transformation of the  degree of conceptual complexity and cognitive burden in independent genres.

Research lines

GENTT attempts to promote a holistic empirical approach for the characterisation of genres, based on the following template:

1. GENRE Denomination in the different working languages
2. SUBGENRE If applicable
3. COMMUNICATIVE SITUATION Register: socio-professional field, mode, level of formality; participants: sender(s), receiver(s); and function
4. FORMAL ISSUES Grammatical cohesion (connectors, metadiscursive elements, collocations, deixis, ellipsis, etc.); Lexical cohesion (terminology, phraseology, semantic fields, etc.); includes contrastive aspects
5. MACRO-STRUCTURE Identification of the fundamental parts of the text, of the moves
6. RELATION TO OTHER GENRES Systems of genres, Bazerman (1994)
7. COMMENTS Bibliographical references, interesting websites, etc.

 

The basic characterisation of genres is the starting point to undertake the following research lines:

1. analysis of textual genres in mother tongue (Spanish and Catalan);
2. analysis of textual genres in languages B and C (English, German and French); or
3. contrastive analysis of textual genres.

The analysis proposed in the above areas may be both micro- and macrolinguistic (formal and communicative aspects), or be carried out from a socio-professional perspective. Within the macrolinguistic analysis, research is structured on the following aspects:

  • macrostructure,
  • rhetoric structure (moves),
  • modality,
  • informative structure, etc.

From a microlinguistic perspective, research might be undertaken on the following aspects:

  • phraseology,
  • terminology (frequency, keywords, etc.),
  • grammatical and lexical cohesion (connectors, deixis, ellipsis, etc.; and semantic fields), etc.

From a socio-professional perspective, the analysis of thematic fields considering specifications within the professional and cultural framework is undertaken:

4. analysis of textual genres’ translations;
5. characterisation of genre systems in mother tongue; and
6. characterisation of genre systems in languages B and C.

From a purely communicative perspective, research can be undertaken on the following aspects:

7. documental and instrumental needs from professional translators and final users of genres;
8. actual use of genres, subgenres, transgenres and family of genres in the fields to which they belong to; or
9. actual use of genre as support to the translation of texts from students and from the professional sector.

And, finally, from a cognitive perspective, the concept o f genre enables the analysis within the research lines related to:

10. factors that ease the understanding of genres (readability tests) and the procedures used to transform the degree of their conceptual complexity (reformulation and recontextualization; Montalt & Shuttleworth 2012);
11. genre awareness on the professional translator and the translation student’s mind; 
12. the evolution of intellectual skills associated to the notion of genre, as the formation of mental models; or
13. the notion of prototypicity in relation with the concept of genre so as to study vague or cross-border case.

 

Diffusion and future

One of our highest priorities is not just to extrapolate our achievements to the experts’ community who work with translations, but also to spread the scientific knowledge achieved through our studies and investigations. Indeed, GENTT is periodically taking part in international congresses and has published its results in specialised magazines and monographs, as other sections of this site show.

Future is full of fascinating challenges. To the start-up of the new Corpus will hopefully follow a considerable increase of its documents and genres, so analysis and exploitation options like semi-automatic extraction of genres will also increase.

Furthermore, we will advance in the implication of the professional fields by carrying out action research projects that allow the transfer of results to real socio-professional contexts. To do so, we aim to keep developing, improving and expanding the functionalities of the on-line multilingual documentation management platforms, which have been built upon the Gentt Corpus philosophy with the aim of meeting the requirements of specialised translators (see “JudGentt and MedGentt platforms” in The Corpus section).

Finally, we also aim to foster the cognitive spectrum inherent to the concept of genre through readability research projects with real users of certain genres.