The Future of Education

Edition 8

Accepted Abstracts

Learning Environmental Terms Evolution

Marina Avdonina, RUDN University (Russian Federation)

Natallia Zhabo, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (Russian Federation)


Texts on environmental topics represent a very fertile field to teach the means necessary to interpret and translate new meanings of vernacular words of the studied foreign language. The purpose of the research is to make Russian students in ecology learn to identify new environmental terms in English and French texts of the socio-political content, including chat rooms and Internet forums and to find equivalent lexical units in the mother tongue acting on a specific readership: professionals, government officials, general public. The present paper describes also the tasks of the teacher organizing this work based on texts concerning new researches, namely: making constantly selection of news with new terms, especially when a common word acquires a term function changing its semantic structure; to prepare exercises for a work at the lesson or at home. A significant part of the environmentalist texts is written by journalists and not by scientists, so students have to analyze examples of funny or sometimes erroneous ways of translation of English and French news sites into Russian (the native language) as well as to compare video and scripts where common words are used as synonyms to special terms (e.g. water bear / tardigrade). Another feature of such texts is the reluctance of journalists to use accurate but long word combinations. Consequently, the role of figurative means is increased, a journalist involves shortened units, sometimes one word acquires the whole semantics of an expression. The analysis with the help of different on-line tools leads students to the fact that the laws of semantic compatibility of words could be broken, a semantic change could occure and the meaning of the unit is to be rethought in the given context. The aim of the teacher when translating is not only to find such new meaning, but to make students find an equivalent in case such collocations have not yet been introduced even in on-line bilingual dictionaries. In many cases, a scientific neologism has potential value for a momentary transition into the category of commonly used widely spread lexical units, or, on the contrary, for turning into a narrow useable professional word. There are cases of an obsolete special term-historicism coming back to everyday life (e.g. pastille verte, loi Grenelle) demanding a special historical commentary when translating. The present study focuses on a general pedagogical target: the students of the Ecological faculty are realizing that in the beginning of the 21st century they need to learn how to interpret the information, to communicate it in a clear and interesting manner to a precise addressee, finding common point of reference when discussing the new event with experts – scientists and practitioners.

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