Lateralization refers to how the human brain centralizes certain thinking processes in either the right or left side of the brain. This does not mean that the whole brain isn’t active at once. It simply means that one hemisphere is more relied upon than the other for certain activities. Through studying stroke victims and other special medical cases, neurologists have determined that motor skills is a cross-lateral brain function. Physical movement on the right side of the body is governed by the left side of the brain and vice versa. Certain other areas of thinking and expression have also been localized to one side of the brain or the other. The left side of the brain is generally considered the more logical/mathematical side while the right brain is thought of as the creative/dreamer side.
It is important to understand that no individual is fully “right brained” or fully “left brained.” Furthermore, most activities in either realm require some crossover into the other realm. Recent studies and theories have emerged to counter the ideas sometimes promoted that suggest individuals are completely left or right brain in their thinking. Usually individuals have a dominant side, but all healthy human beings use both sides of their brain!
What is significant to our purposes is the theory that in order to expand upon one’s understanding of something, the whole brain needs to be engaged. In other words we must encourage thinking that employs both sides of the brain. Learning is more likely to take place, and more information will be retained if the learner has interacted with it on both sides of the brain. Purposeful switching from a left-brain focus to a right-brain focus can also lead to better problem solving and more success in expressing new learning.
The MAST steps actually require the translator to switch back and forth from the left to the right side of the brain several times. Let’s see what that looks like.
1. Consume: this is largely a left-brain activity, as it requires analytical thought and a focus on details, as well as awareness of order of events, and logical conclusion.
2. Verbalize: this step shifts the translator to a more right brain focus, as it requires the re-stating or summarizing of what they have heard/read. This requires creativity and connection with not just the analytical nature of language, but with the essence of human expression.
3. Chunk: Again the translator switches hemispheres. Chunking is an analytical process that our brain naturally does when a body of information is input into the brain. To cognitively process those chunks, requires analysis, order, and rational thought.
4. Blind draft: This is both a left and right brain activity. The fact that it is “blind” forces the right brain to be more active than it would be otherwise. Creativity of thought, clear and natural expression in one’s mother tongue flow from the right brain. But the analytical thought and orderly expression of those thoughts from steps one through three are also evident at this point.
5. Self-edit: During this phase the translator works primarily from the analytical left-brain, to compare his work with the original, following a defined order, paying attention to details, and thinking logically.
6. Peer-edit: This step is also left brain for the translator. He is analyzing his friend’s work and comparing it with the source text in much the same way that he has done with his own text.
7. Key-word check: This is both a left and right brain activity. It requires analytical thinking and attention to detail. It is logical and orderly. But it also requires creative thought, searching for words or phrases that encapsulate the true meaning of the original and sometimes having to create those words or phrases.
8. Verse-by-verse chuck: At this stage the translators are working primarily from the left brain again. They must be analytical and orderly as the check each verse against the original. But certainly the right brain comes into play often as the translators look for the best solutions to apparent discrepancies, and again must sometimes create new words or phrases to convey the appropriate meaning.
Lateralization has significant implications into the process of transferring the message across language mediums. Although translators may not be aware of it, this switching from one hemisphere to the other, engages their whole brain and results in more retention of the material as well as better output.