Should We Blame Machine Translation for the Inadequacy of English? A Study on the Vocabulary of Family and Relationships


UZUN L.

WORKING WITH TEXT AND AROUND TEXT IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ENVIRONMENTS, pp.273-288, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume:
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/978-3-319-33272-7_17
  • Title of Journal : WORKING WITH TEXT AND AROUND TEXT IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ENVIRONMENTS
  • Page Numbers: pp.273-288

Abstract

The present study was carried out as classroom research after it was noticed that there are obvious cultural elements peculiar to Turkish society which do not have equivalents in English, thereby creating confusion and difficulty particularly for beginner-level Turkish learners of English. This confusion in the learning process stems from the inadequacy of the English lexicon. The study investigated the translation skills of Turkish EFL learners concerning vocabulary related to family and relationships in the language education curriculum, and compared the accuracy and clarity of learner outputs with machine translation outputs. Additionally, the participants were interviewed about the lexical gap and its affects, if any, on their motivation. The participants were 52 beginner-level learners of English (12 male and 40 female) whose ages ranged between 18 and 55. Results revealed that the texts produced by group 1, mostly with the help of MT, were lexically stable and poorer in content and density, but semantically quite confusing for average Turkish learners of English. The texts produced by group 2, mostly by manual explanation and correction of the literal vocabulary, were lexically richer in content and density, and relatively detailed. It was also observed that the translation outputs of group 3 were similar to those of group 1, showing an inclination to use online and android translational tools, which was confirmed afterwards in interviews. The study concluded that the lexical gap in the English lexicon related to the family and relationships especially, but also to other cultural domains, might create serious confusion and gaps in the minds of beginner FL learners that should be approached with extra consideration during the development of learning materials and implementation of educational sessions, which in turn might contribute positively to the motivation of the learners.