A huge flow of information creates difficulties in identifying the information that can be necessary in professional activities. The courses "Economic Translation" and "Business Communication" taught at MGIMO-University allow developing the skills of both search and semantic reading, which are so relevant for performing high-quality translation and analysis, systematization and assimilation of information. Despite the availability of machine translation, the author proves the relevance of teaching these courses since MGIMO students get a significant edge over other graduates. The study is based on the descriptive method, which includes methods of observation, interpretation, comparison and generalization. The author used the methods of synchronous and comparative analysis as well. Combining the language and professional tasks of these courses made it possible to increase motivation of students as well as to increase the level of intercultural communication and competencies. In the article, the author aims to analyze the methodology of teaching these courses which to a great extent relies on different types of reading as the basis for the development of students' language competencies necessary for the qualitative implementation of further professional activities.
Keywords: Business communication, competencies, economic translation, intercultural communication, machine translation, semantic reading
Who has the information owns the world. In the modern world, a huge flow of information makes it difficult to isolate essential and necessary data for work. Reading is the main way to get professional information. In MGIMO-University, two aspects are taught in the framework of studying a foreign language at faculties with an economic orientation: business/commercial communication and economic translation. Both courses are important components of the general English language teaching course, as they are aimed at preparing graduates for their professional activities, developing skills for identifying the most important information, and communicating on professional topics.
Since nowadays according to different research younger generations tend to read less the author tries to highlight the importance of reading in general and semantic reading in particular. To understand how crucial it is the author gives a brief outline of the methods of teaching these courses.
As part of the "Business Communication" aspect, students learn the basics of business correspondence and negotiation, while studying such topics as "Offer", "Request", "Order", "Payments", "Insurance", "Transportation", "Claims and Disputes". Students study contracts and other documentation related to these topics. There is a very interesting and relevant line within the framework of the course "Business Communication" dedicated to writing a resume /CV and passing an interview for the appropriate position, the requirements for which are as close as possible to reality. During the exam, students act as interpreters in negotiations on the topics covered translating Russian phrases into English and vice verso English ones into Russian.
Within the framework of the aspect of "Economic Translation", students read, analyze, translate and reproduce authentic texts of economic content from English into Russian. They can also reproduce or sum up texts from Russian but surely they do it in English. When reading foreign language texts, students use all types of reading: viewing, search, introductory, semantic, etc. Since reading remains one of the main types of obtaining and assimilation of information, and the volume of information is constantly increasing, the requirements for skills applied to its analysis, assimilation, systematization and reproduction are changing. Different scientists distinguish different types of reading, the main of which are:
3. semantic/learning/extended. (Rumbeshta & Shvalova, 2020).
Or if classified by the degree of involvement they are:
3. extensive reading,
4. intensive reading.
Or, for instance, Adler and Doren (1972) suggest the following levels of reading:
1. Elementary reading,
2. Inspectional reading,
3. Analytical reading,
4. Syntopical reading.
Reading in general is a very important skill that promotes reflection, stimulates imagination, develops intelligence, improves the quality of oral speech, gives an opportunity to learn and acquire new information. In psychology and medicine, other types of reading are also distinguished such as mechanical reading, responsive reading, phonetic reading, silent reading, reflexive reading, etc. In fact, students use all 3 or in some cases 4 types of reading. At the first stage of reading, they isolate certain information from the text. At the second stage, during the introductory reading or skimming, they identify the main ideas of the text and its essence. At this stage, students begin to create a mind map of the text. The goal of the third stage is to understand the content of the text as accurately as possible, practically comprehend the information received, draw conclusions and be able to reproduce the text in English. An important component of this type of reading is the study of words, expressions and terms found in the text. Students should find or give the most adequate translation into Russian, taking into account the context as well as learn these terms with their translation. And here there is a dissonance: there are students who know the translation of the term in Russian and English, but do not understand what is behind the term itself, for example: “monetary policy”. But quite often they do not understand what actions of the state are meant by this term. This often leads to difficulties with understanding the text. It can be said that students even resort to research reading, but the amount of information obtained from educational texts is still not so great. Semantic/analytical reading implies continuous analysis of information, words and expressions, which contributes to vocabulary replenishment (Dutta, 2021). After reading the text, they should translate the foreign language text, as closely as possible transferring the content of the source text into Russian, observing the rules of style, using the appropriate vocabulary and concepts. In this case, the translation should not be subscripted, it shouldn’t contain the translation of separate words in the text but the meaning of the words in the context (Adler & Doren, 1972; Pulman, 1997). Reading the text, they isolate the basic information from the text, put it in the form of a mind map and on its basis should reproduce the text in English. As part of the course "Economic Translation", students study various topics, including: "Economic cycle", "Mergers and Acquisitions", "Banks and Banking", "Stock Markets", "Labor Market", "Initial public offering", etc. During the oral exam, students orally translate an authentic text from English into Russian. They are given time to prepare (about 10 minutes), but they are not allowed to use paper dictionaries or any other devices.
Nowadays there are various online translators, which from the point of view of some students can replace human translators. The author aims at proving that it is not right. At least now.
The author would like to focus on the possibility of using machine translation and the relevance of teaching these aspects within the English language course. Machine translation is becoming more and more "high-quality". Now there are a large number of fairly good applications: Google Translator, Yandex.Translate, Bing Microsoft Translator, Im Translator, PROMT, etc. Together with some online translators, a human translator review service is available (Translate.com). The use of machine translation is possible if the recipient needs to understand the basic meaning of the text, however, it is incomparable with a high-quality literary translation performed by a qualified human translator. Online translators do not provide accurate and sometimes even adequate translation. A human translator can identify and reproduce the style and emotional color of the text, can recognize the cultural and professional features of the text. Therefore, online translators cannot preserve the style, especially of legal documents. The text translated by online translators very often turns out to be inconsistent. Modern online translators cannot recognize the context. Unlike an online translator, a professional human translator will try to convey all the features of the source text using both dialect and professional slang, jargon, metaphors, idioms, allegories, etc.
Purpose of the Study
Information "born" in another culture is difficult to understand and decode, as it is based on different perceptions of the worldview and different linguistic cultures, different experiences, background knowledge, and even religion. In modern texts of professional and economic content, a large number of different phraseological units, idioms and various kinds of allegories are increasingly present. If earlier metaphors, phraseological units, idioms and other types of allegories were actively used in oral speech, for example, in speeches of politicians, now they penetrate into business publications and the sphere of business communication. For the correct understanding of allegories, especially in a foreign language, background knowledge is needed: knowledge of the socio-cultural characteristics of the country, history, economic and political features of this state. The purpose of the study is to show that reading in general is of great importance as it helps to broaden our horizons regardless of the profession chosen (Haaheim, 2020). The more students read and know the more they can comprehend and perceive, the easier they can understand any authentic text. The basis of high–quality translation is the understanding of the text. Translation is an intercultural bilingual text communication. Semantic reading allows students to perceive the text adequately and translate it correctly, to perceive the right meaning of the words in the context (Pulman, 1997). A qualitatively translated text should clearly and precisely convey the essence and plot of the original text, trying to preserve the structure and content as much as possible. It should be easy to read and perceive by the appropriate recipient. Although the translation of the authentic text is a secondary text, it must correspond to the specifics and style of the author of the source text and its recipient. Thus, the student-translator becomes a co-author and mediator of the transmission and interpretation of intercultural features between two cultures. In the process of semantic reading, the student must not only thoroughly understand its content and determine the main idea of the text, but also determine the emotional nature of the text, highlight the supporting words and expressions, study their meaning and translation.
The study is based on the descriptive method, which includes methods of observation, interpretation, comparison and generalization. The author used the methods of synchronous and comparative analysis as well
According to the author semantic reading skill plays a significant role in educating students not only when studying a foreign but when studying in general. In connection with teaching English semantic reading allows to:
Determine and define, analyze and perceive information which is a very sophisticated task taking into account the growing amount of information.
Combine language and professional tasks and skills.
Perform a high-quality translation, which is the main goal of the courses.
Replenish students’ vocabulary.
Upgrade students’ level of knowledge of specialized subjects (management, marketing, business, accounting, etc).
Due to the increasing amount of information and decreasing amount of reading students quite often face a lack of some skills that allow them to study well. Reading as one of the basic needs and skills for studying is crucial. The aim of the research was to prove the importance of semantic reading for translating and interpreting authentic economic texts from English into Russian. The research suggests that for MGIMO students semantic reading plays an important role in teaching and studying. Furthermore, both “Business Communication” and “Economic Translation” courses are aimed at improving the level of intercultural communication and students' competencies, namely the ability to analyze, interpret and create texts giving them a competitive advantage over other graduates.
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Haaheim, M. (2020). Why are semantics important? https://www.quora.com/Why-are-semantics-important
Pulman, S. G. (1997). Semantics. In C. Ron, V. Zue, J. Mariani, et al. (Eds.), Survey of the state of art in human language technology (pp. 105-111). Cambridge University Press.
Rumbeshta, E. A., & Shvalova, T. V. (2020). Formirovanie smyslovogo chteniya i umeniya rabotat’ s tekstom v processe primeneniya poznavatel’noj problemnoj deyatel’nosti [Formation of semantic reading and ability to work applying cognitive activity]. https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/formirovanie-smyslovogo-chteniya-i-umeniya-rabotat-s-tekstom-v-protsesse-primeneniya-poznavatelnoy-problemnoy-deyatelnosti
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About this article
12 October 2022
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Teaching methods, language for specific purposes, business English, translation studies, applied linguistics, intercultural business communication
Cite this article as:
Zhukova, M. V. (2022). The Significance of Semantic Reading Skill for “Economic Translation” and “Business Communication”. In V. I. Karasik, & E. V. Ponomarenko (Eds.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication - TILTM 2022, vol 4. European Proceedings of Educational Sciences (pp. 95-99). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epes.22104.11