Really need some advice - issues over Masters dissertation (language) Watch

superfluous112
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Hey all,

Could do with some insight.

My dissertation is an analysis of media texts in contemporary Russia. The websites I have also have an English function, so not bad. However, one of my dissertation supervisors said that from the university's standpoint, I have to at least analyse some sources in Russian - she knows that I only studied Russian for beginners (for a year) + one semester at intermediate. I am nowhere near fluent, and my comprehension is terrible - both my supervisors are aware that I am not fluent. One of my supervisors is fluent, not so sure about the other. She reassured me that they're not going to meticulously go through my sources - as they understand my situation - and if I do quote a line from a text, they will probably check it. I'm quite uncomfortable with this to be fair. I just have terrifying visions of the third member on the panel at my oral defense will assume I am fluent and question my language skills.

Have I got 2 options here?

1) Google translate - but I mentioned it to them and I really want to avoid this, since it does generally pick up on the main content - however meaning can be lost and it may not be an accurate representation.

2) Could I get them professionally translated? They are not to know because it will be accurate. This option may be tricky since I am pushed for time ( I have under 3 months, and I'm just in the analysis stage).

Thanks!
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by superfluous112)
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You probably need to discuss this with a professional translator, because I am sure this is a dilemma that has a relatively 'standard' professional answer.

As a non-professional, but general post-grad, academic response, I would have thought that having a professional translation done would be the only acceptable option. If the whole point of the dissertation is textual analysis, then any automated translator will introduce an error that is likely to defy the underlying data you are trying to analyse. What you will really be reporting on will be the translation programme. or at least, you won't be able to tell the difference between linguistic styles of the original author and the translation programme.

By getting a professional translation you can also interrogate the translation standards, and alternatives etc. Translation is a very nuanced activity, as I'm sure you know, and using a computer programme simply isn't likely to cut it.

Translation of sources that are in another language is quite different to the core of the research question being about textual analysis in another language. To be honest, I'm surprised you were allowed to do a dissertation on textual analysis without being fluent in the second language.
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superfluous112
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
You probably need to discuss this with a professional translator, because I am sure this is a dilemma that has a relatively 'standard' professional answer.

As a non-professional, but general post-grad, academic response, I would have thought that having a professional translation done would be the only acceptable option. If the whole point of the dissertation is textual analysis, then any automated translator will introduce an error that is likely to defy the underlying data you are trying to analyse. What you will really be reporting on will be the translation programme. or at least, you won't be able to tell the difference between linguistic styles of the original author and the translation programme.

By getting a professional translation you can also interrogate the translation standards, and alternatives etc. Translation is a very nuanced activity, as I'm sure you know, and using a computer programme simply isn't likely to cut it.

Translation of sources that are in another language is quite different to the core of the research question being about textual analysis in another language. To be honest, I'm surprised you were allowed to do a dissertation on textual analysis without being fluent in the second language.
Thanks for that. The thing is, it was my supervisors who suggested looking at media articles - however I thought it wasn't an issue and naturally assumed they would realise that my analysis would be based on Russian websites which has an in-built English alternative (quite a few do). It was only the other week that my supervisor said that it is fine to analyse the English version, however - even if it was a little, I need to analyse Russian. All of my research up until now hasn't been based on analysing the Russian language - it isn't a research question. I haven't explicitly stated that is the case because I'm interested in looking at Russian news geared to an international audience - and therefore, these websites are in English.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by superfluous112)
..........................
OK, then that detail may change things a bit. If your research question is about Russian presentation of news stories in English, for international consumption, that's one thing. However, if you are comparing it, even in part to how they present the same stories internally, then I still think it would need a professional translator. Presumably for example, there are nuances of 'severity' that can be different just by use of a word of phrase, only a professional translator can tell you about those.
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