University of Oxford

Literary Translation And (Tqa)

Many of the books written on translation through the ages deal largely with literary translation, and in particular with the difficulty of “translating well”, “preserving the quality” and also of being “faithful”. Such discussions are based on an assumption of universality and on a historical claims; on the one hand, they rarely offer any historical insight into the way actual translations have been produced and used through the ages; on the other hand, there is no clear historical foundation and so it is not actually clear what has happened before. Of course, scholarly work does exist, but it is rather heterogeneous, making it difficult to provide a reliable overview of either the history or current thinking about literary translation.

The very use and combination of literary and translation is symptomatic of the casual way in which the concepts of literature and of translation have so far been taken for granted. Since neither concept is simple or well defined in most cultures, defining literary translation is the first stumbling block confronting the scholars. In this respect, a historical explanation of the way in which the object of study has been conceptualized, with the aid of such things as dictionaries, encyclopedias and other key instruments of cultural knowledge, is therefore very much needed. The same applies of course to translation practices and their exact relationships with the more or less explicit theories at different points in history.

The use of the term literature and its equivalents in various languages to refer to specific patterns of creativity in style, genre, and so on seems to be a rather modern development, dating back only to the eighteenth century (Escarpit 1962; Culler 1989). Scholarship has not established clearly the extent to which literature is necessarily linked to one particular language and, even less, the extent to which particular literary traditions may be linked to a given territory, nation or state. A tenuous relationship between literature and other entities such as language, territory and nation would suggest that translated literature will not necessarily manifest signs of interaction between different literary traditions (Lambert, 1984). The concept of translation itself is similarly far from being universal, and where it does exist, the borderlines between it and related concept as rewriting are not necessarily clear or uniformly drawn, whether historically or at a given moment in time, not even within the same linguistic tradition (Van Gorp, 1978). The ubiquity of the type of event that is casually referred to in translation studies as literary translation makes it incumbent on scholars to define the conditions under which this type of event takes place, as well as to investigate the conditions under which it does not occur. However, this is no easy task, given the ambiguous status of translated literature, particularly in view of the problem of visibility vs. invisibility of the act of translation. In the former, translation is presented explicitly, while in the latter translation is disguised as an original, such as fairy tales and children’s literature which explains in turn why the majority of readers remain unaware of the foreign origins of some literary texts.

Historical Overview of Translation quality assessment (TQA)

Quality is certainly an important issue in modern industry. Consequently, industrial customers come up with quality requirements for translations of their documentation and localized products. At the same time we have to recognize that a growing number of customers are, to a certain extent, fully capable of assessing the quality of the translated product. They are not capable of producing the text themselves, but they do know how to pinpoint quality. Total Quality Management (TQM) as the mother of all the quality assessment subsystems defines the concept of quality as “Fully satisfying agreed customer requirements”. Furthermore, International Standard Organization (ISO) defines quality as “The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs”. Taking these matters into consideration, in recent years there has been a significant increase in interest in developing good criteria for solving the problems of assessing the quality of translation. This interest has resulted in many studies concerning the nature of translation, the techniques and procedures used in the translation process. There have also been attempts to build models for assessing translation quality which may be used as workable tools by translators and translation evaluators. To name just afew, Farahzad (1992) believes that the field of Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) is problematic, especially when the texts are long, and also there are various theories and applications about the evaluation of students’ translations. Some scholars are concerned with developing models that satisfy the needs of practitioners, thus attempting to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Others make attempt to draw up “objective” translation assessment criteria by means of incorporating conventional frameworks of educational measurement, such as reliability, validity, and objectivity, into their overall structures. She maintains that two main features are to be checked in scoring for each unit of translation (suggesting that sentence and clause might be the units of translation) and they are:

1. Accuracy: the translation should convey the information in the ST precisely i.e. the translation should be close to the ST norms.

2. Appropriateness: the sentences sound fluent and native, and are correct in terms of structure.

She declares that unnatural translations which convey the source text’s meaning receive half a score, whereas inaccurate translations receive no score, no matter how appropriate and natural the target texts sound. In addition, in error recognition items, one score is given for spotting the error, and another one for correcting it. Regarding the long texts, Farahzad believes that scoring them can be done in several ways:

A: it can be scored holistically: Since the item assesses a wide variety of competencies, the examiner may find it convenient to approach the text as the unit of translation and adopt this system, especially with a large number of students. The examiner may, for instance, come up with the following scheme:

1. Accuracy – 20 percent

2. Appropriateness – 20 percent

3. Naturalness – 20 percent

4. Cohesion – 20 percent

5. Style of discourse/choice of words – 20 percent

B: it can be subjected to objectify scoring: In this system the target text must be read two times, first to check the accuracy and appropriateness, then for cohesion and style. Albeit time-consuming, this system is more reliable.

Farahzad suggests that sentence and clause might be the units of translation. Thus each verb in the source language text marks a score. The main clause receives one score and each sub-clause another score. So the accuracy and appropriateness are checked in each sentence and clause. Cohesion and style cannot be checked and scored at the sentence and clause level. The elements of cohesion (e.g. transitional, appropriate use of pronouns, linkages, etc.) are spread all over the text as are the elements which form the style of discourse (choice of words, grammatical structures, etc.) If, for instance, the source text is fairly neutral, one may allot a smaller number of points to it than in other cases where the preservation of style is important. However, Farahzad’s method seems a holistic method and it may cause some problems in evaluation of translations. Hence, it seems that Waddington’s method might complete the Farahzad’s method in assessment, which is expressed as follows:

Waddington (2001) indicates that almost all the contributions in Translation Quality Assessment (TQA) have been descriptive or theoretical and have centered mainly on the following themes:

(i) Establishing the criteria for a “good translation” (Darbelnet 1977, Newmark 1991);

(ii) The nature of translation errors:

– Defining the nature of translation errors as opposed to language errors (House 1981, Nord 1993, Kussmaul 1995, Gouadec 1989);

– Drawing up a catalogue of possible translation errors (Gouadec 1981);

– Establishing the relative, as opposed to absolute, nature of translation errors (Williams 89, Gouadec 89, Pym 92, Kussmaul 95);

– The need to assess quality not only at the linguistic but also the pragmatic level (Sager 1989, Williams 1989, Hewson 1995, Kussmaul 1995, Nord 1996, Hatim & Mason 1997);

(iii) Basing quality assessment on text linguistic analysis (House 1981, Larose 1989);

(iv) Establishing various textual levels on a hierarchical basis and linking the importance of mistakes to these levels (Dancette1989, Larose 1989).

For instance, in order to find out the kind of translation exam and the kinds of methods of correction currently in use in Faculties of Translation, Waddington sent out a questionnaire to 48 European and Canadian universities. A total of 52 teachers replied from 20 of these universities and their answers reflected the following situation:

(i) All the teachers said that they require the students to translate a text, although over half also include other complementary tests.

(ii) As far as methods of evaluating student translations were concerned, 36.5% of the teachers use a method based on error analysis, 38.5% use a holistic method, and 23% combine error analysis with a holistic appreciation.

In accordance with these findings, he considers the validity of the results obtained through applying these different types of methods to the correction of translations of part of an authentic text done by students under exam conditions.

Al-Qinai (2000) indicates that translation is a complex hermeneutic process in which intuition plays a crucial role in interpreting the intentions of the ST writer. Further, languages vary in their choice of lexical connotations, sentence structure and rhetorical strategies, the only tangible tools for assessment. It is prudent, therefore, to talk about the adequacy of a translation rather than the degree of equivalence. In addition, quality is relative and absolutes of accuracy cease where the end user (i.e. client) imposes his own subjective preferences of style in TT. Concerning these challenges, standardization of quality is thus a fuzzy grey area. However, Al-Qinai in his study concerns to textual/ functional (or pragmatic) compatibility (i.e. quality of linguistic conversion) rather than to the logistics of management and presentation (i.e. quality of service). He points out that the ultimate end-users are interested in the quality of the product and not the means sought to serve its creation. According to him, the assessment of a translated text seeks to measure the degree of efficiency of the text with regard to the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic function of ST within the Cultural frame and expressive potentials of both source language and target language. He also states that since no two languages are identical, either in meaning or in form, the best we can hope for is an approximation given the following variables:

a) Nature of ST message.

b) Purpose and intent of ST producer.

c) Type of audience.

Another translation scholar, Sainz (1992), discusses a student-centered approach to correction of translations. She believes that teachers must make it clear that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions and that the students’ answers are going to be used only as feedback for discussion later on.

The process which Sainz suggests for correction of translations

Comprises five stages as follows:

1. Development is a stage during which it is intended to understand and anticipate students ‘needs in order to meet them more efficiently.

2. Implementation is a stage during which students get the “correction chart” shown on the following:

Mistakes

Possible Correction

Source

Type of Mistake

Under “Mistakes” students write the word, phrase or sentence which was understood as incorrect in their translation. Under “Possible Correction” they try to produce an “error free” version. The source of the answer for students’ correction is entered under the column “Source” as: ‘Myself’; ‘Peer’; ‘Dictionary’; ‘Teacher’. The column “Type of Mistake”, filled in by the students, can become a good exercise to help students recognize what types of mistake they are making and consequently eliminate them.

3. Monitoring is a stage during which teachers can monitor the process in order to make adjustments as the course unfolds, on the basis of the information they retrieve from the ‘Correction Chart’.

4. Integration is a stage during which teachers can fill in their own chart of “Types of Mistakes” for a particular translation piece.

5. Self-monitoring is a stage during which students can check their own progress in the course, at the same time, become critical about their learning.

Besides, at the bottom of the ‘Correction Chart’, students are asked to circle the figure, ranging from +3 to -3, which they think best matches their idea about their performance in that particular translation passage and to make any other comments.

Bell‘s Model of TQA

This model is developed from Hallidayan Systemic Functional Linguistics which was rooted in the linguistic intellectual tradition in Europe and grew following the work of Ferdinand de Saussure. According to this model to translate and evaluate a text, an understanding of three layers of meaning, ideational, interpersonal and textual must be gained first and then followed by the next step, that is, the translation process. According to Bell, the three layers of meaning are:

 (a) Ideational revealing a cognitive meaning. This meaning is embodied in a transitivity system to create a proposition starting the “user’s experience of the external world of the senses and the inner world of the mind” (Bell, 1991:121). In this transitivity system, there are many kinds of processes, such as material, mental, verbal, verbal behavior, mental behavior, attributive and identification relation, etc.

(b) Interpersonal expressing the functional meaning of speech which is realized in a mood system creating sentences containing propositions or proposals and describing the interpersonal relationships between one speaker and another. This mood system realizes the social reality and explores the clauses in the exchange of information of goods and services.

 (c) Textual describing a discourse meaning which is realized in a thematic system producing speech in a communicative event. The speeches are arranged in such a cohesive and coherent way.

The macrofunction of language (which Halliday called also it as ‘metafunction’) is described in the illustrative diagram at the next page. This diagram clearly shows the “network” and “system” of languages. The description of the functions of language by Halliday contributes a lot to the understanding of a text.

According to this diagram and by analyzing it in detail, it is evident that the three layers of meaning, that is to say, ideational, interpersonal, and textual construct the foundation of the macro (or Meta) function of the language. First of all, the ideational layer of meaning governs and determines the field of discourse by which the subject matter of the text is known. This case has to do with the genre of the text referring to the category or field domain in which the language is embedded. The ideational layer of language macrofunction is in turn itself divided into logical and experiential subfunctions by which the process, role and circumstance of the speech, under the title of transitivity, are expressed. The process points to all of the challenges and stumbling blocks before the translator as well as the stages s/he should make attempts to remove and traverse, respectively, so as to reach to an ultimate product guaranteed both in quality and reader’s acceptance. The significance of this step arises from the fact that the process of the translation and its dilemmas are usually denied to the reader when he thinks of translation as a product, since the reader encounters with only an end product resulting from a decision-making endeavor, ignoring the process of translation. The subsequent sub-branches fallen in this category, viz. role and circumstance, refer to the function or position of a piece of text in different tongues as well as the overall atmosphere surrounding it, respectively.

The second layer of meaning, i.e. the interpersonal, expresses the functional meaning of speech and governs the tenor of discourse by which the degree of emotional charge, social attitudes and mutual relationships between various addressers and addresses (in short, who is communicating with whom) are explained. In addition, the interpersonal meaning expresses the functional meaning of speech which is realized in a sub-system, known as mood, creating sentences containing propositions or proposals in the form of indicative or imperative. The mood system also identifies and realizes the social and communicative realities based on the accepted norms both on the speakers’ and hearers’ sides.

The third sub-division of language macrofunction shown in the diagram, i.e., the textual, governs the mode of the discourse by which the kind of language one uses, either oral or written, is determined. The notion of theme, known as the subject or main idea in the reciprocal conversation between the interlocutor and audience, is the most important background here, by which the information provided inside the language system can be instrumental to realize the textual layer of meaning in a thematic context. Accordingly, operating all these three sub-divisions of language macrofunctions together, a network of systems is produced, where understanding the layers of meaning totally along with the translation process followed can come to a propitious product.

   

Bell gives an example; Alfred hit Bill with a hammer. The three layers of meaning contained in the sentence can be reconstructed as follows:

Table OF Illustration Case of Bell’s Three Layers of Meaning

Alfred

hit

Bill

With a hammer

ideational

actor

Material

process

goal

circumstance:

manner: means

interpersonal

S

F/P

C

adjunct

            Mood

              Residue

             

textual

Theme

Topical

unmarked

                              Rheme

 
 
 
 
 
 

The process that happens in the sentence as seen from the ideational level is that a material process hit was carried out by ‘an actor’ named Alfred against a person named Bill using the means of a hammer. Seen from an interpersonal level, the sentence is indicative and declarative with the purpose of giving information. From a textual level, the thematic structure of the sentence is topically unmarked. After reconstructing the meaning of the sentence, the transfer process takes place. The translation should have the same ideational level, while the interpersonal and textual levels might be different. To sum up, it can be said that Bell’s model of TQA is helpful for text analysis at the ideational, interpersonal and textual levels. A good translation still carries the ideational meaning of the source text, while the other meanings, interpersonal and textual might be different.

 

The Role of Textual Function in TQA

The essence of translation lies in the preservation of “meaning” across two languages. There are three aspects to this meaning: semantic, textual and pragmatic such that translation may be defined as the replacement of a text in the SL by a semantically and pragmatically equivalent text in the TL. In this definition of translation the term “equivalent” is the key term, and the concept of equivalence is taken to be the fundamental criterion of translation quality. Thus an adequate translation text is a semantically and pragmatically equivalent one. As a first requirement for this equivalence it is posited that the translation text has a function equivalent to that of its source text.

Function can be divided into two main groups:

1) Cognitive-referential (also known as ideational or informative) which is content based and reveals facts about objects and realities.

2) Non-cognitive (also known as emotive-expressive, interaction- or person-oriented) which is form focused and adopts perspective of ST author.

The resultant two broad functional categories are useful for providing convenient labels for the two components of a text’s function, which are always co-presented. The notions of “ideational” and “interpersonal” functions proposed by Halliday (1973) are also applied alternatively for these two branches. Considering the above classifications, the function of a text can be defined as the application or use which the text has in the context of a particular situation. In order to characterize the function precisely and establish functional equivalence between ST and TT, the ST has to be analyzed first in detail, such that the equivalence which is sought for TT can be stated clearly. The situational dimensions and linguistic materials (syntactic, lexical and textual) are then considered to be the means by which the text’s function is determined or realized. By using situational dimensions for opening up the ST, a particular textual profile is obtained for the ST which characterizes the function of the text and a norm against which the quality of the text is to be measured. Therefore, the degree to which TT’s textual profile and function match or don’t match ST’s is the degree to which TT is more or less adequate in quality.

To analyze the discussion of textual function as a necessary factor in TQA more clearly, it can be concluded from the above mentioned statements that TQA, like language itself, has two basic functions, an ideational and interpersonal function. The first, which is mostly regarded as the primary one, refers to linguistic-textual analysis, description, explanation, and comparison, and it is also based on empirical research and on professional knowledge of linguistic structures and norms of language use. The second one refers to value judgments, social, interpersonal and ethical questions of socio-political and socio-psychological relevance, ideological stance or individual persuasion. Without the first, the second is useless, in other words, to judge is easy, to understand less so. In other words, in TQA we have to make explicit the grounds for our judgment basing it on a theoretically sound and argued set of inter-subjectively verifiable set of procedures. A detailed analysis of the “hows” and the “whys” of a translated text (i.e., its linguistic forms and functions) in comparison with the original form from which it is derived, is the descriptive foundation for any valid, and argued assessment of whether, how, and to what degree a given translation can be taken to be more or less adequate in quality. Clearly, this means recognizing the inevitable subjective part of any TQA by a human evaluator. However, this recognition does not invalidate the objective part of the assessment; it merely reinforces its necessity.

TQA in Three Different Schools of Thought

The most important schools of thought involving the miscellaneous notions towards TQA are as follows:

Mentalist Views

In this school, subjective and intuitive evaluations of a translation have been undertaken since long by writers, philosophers, and many others, consisting of such global judgments as “the translation does justice to the original” or “the tone of the original is lost in the translation” and so forth. In a newer guise, such intuitive assessments are being propagated by neo-hermeneutic translation scholars who regard translation as an individual creative act depending exclusively on subjective interpretation and transfer decisions, artistic-literary intuitions and interpretive skills and knowledge. In short, this school is subjective and intuitive in nature, where vague and hermeneutic statements of translation quality are the prevailing norms.

Response-Based Approaches

This school of thought is illustrated precisely in its two sub divisions as follows:

Behaviorist Views

As opposed to the previous subjective-intuitive approach to TQA, the behaviorist view aims at a more “scientific” way of evaluating translations dismissing the translator’s mental actions as belonging to some in principle unknowable “black box”. This tradition which has been influenced by American structuralism and behaviorism is most famously associated with Nida’s pioneering work (1964) in which readers’ reactions to a translation were taken as the main yardstick for assessing a translation’s quality, positing global behavioral criteria, such as e.g. intelligibility and informativeness and stating that a “good” translation is one leading to “equivalence of response”a concept clearly linked to his principle of “dynamic equivalence of translation”, i.e., that the manner in which receptors of a translation respond to the translation should be “equivalent” to the manner in which the source text’s receptors respond to the original. Nida operationalzed this equivalence as comprising equal “informativeness” and “intelligibility”. Assuming that it is true that a “good’ translation should elicit a response equivalent to the response to its original; we must immediately ask whether it is possible to measure an “equivalent response”, let alone “informativeness” or “intelligibility”. If these phenomena can’t be measured, it is useless to postulate them as criteria for TQA. And indeed, even the most imaginative tests designed to establish verifiable and observable responses a translation presumably evokes using for instance reading aloud techniques, various close and rating procedures have finally failed to provide the desired results, because they were unable to capture such a complex phenomenon as the “quality of a translation”. Further, the source text is largely ignored in all these methods, which means that nothing can be said about the relationship between original and translation, nor about whether a translation is in fact a translation and not another secondary text derived via a different textual operation.

Functionalist, “Skopos” Related Approach

Adherents of this approach (Reiss and Vermeer1988) claim that it is the “skopos’ or purpose of a translation that is of overriding importance in judging a translation’s quality. The way target culture norms are heeded or flouted by a translation is the critical yardstick in evaluating a translation. It is the translator or more frequently the translation brief he is given by the person(s) commissioning the translation that decide on the function the translation is to fulfill in its new environment. The notion of “function”, critical in this theory, is however never made explicit, let alone operationalized in any satisfactory way. It seems to be something very similar to the real-world effect of a text. How exactly one is to go about determining the relative equivalence and adequacy of a translation, let alone how exactly one is to go about determining the linguistic realization of the “skopos” of a translation, is not clear. Most importantly, however, it naturally flows from the crucial role assigned to the “purpose” of a translation that the original is reduced to a simple “offer of information”, with the word “offer” making it immediately clear that this “information” can freely be accepted or rejected as the translator sees fit. But since any translation is simultaneously bound to its ST and to the presuppositions and conditions governing its reception in the new environment, Skopos theory can not be said to be an adequate theory when it comes to tackling the evaluation of a translation in its fundamental bidirectionality.

Text and Discourse Based Approaches

The most significant subgroups fallen under this category are enumerated as follows:

Literature Oriented Approaches: Descriptive Translation Studies

This approach is oriented squarely towards the translation text: A translation is evaluated predominantly in terms of its forms and functions inside the system of the receiving culture and literature (Toury, 1995). The original is of subordinate importance, the main focus retrospective from translation to original being “actual translations”, and the textual phenomena that have come to be known in the target culture as translations. The idea towards TQA in this approach is to first of all attempt to “neutrally” describe the characteristics of that text as they are perceived on the basis of native (receptor) culture members’ knowledge of comparable texts in the same genre. However, if one aims at judging a particular text which is plainly not an “independent”, “new” product of one culture only, such a retrospective focus seems peculiarly inappropriate for making valid statements about how and why a translation qua translation is as it is. While the solid empirical-descriptive work and the emphasis put on contextualization at the micro-level of the reception situation and the macro-level of the receiving culture at large, as well as the inclusion of both a “longitudinal” (temporal, diachronic) and a (synchronic) systemic perspective (considering the poly-systemic relations into which the translation enters with other texts in the receiving cultural system), is certainly commendable, the approach does fail to provide criteria for judging the merits and weaknesses of a particular text. In other words, this shortcoming entails such debatable questions as: How are we to judge whether one text is a translation and another one not? And what are the criteria for judging merits and weaknesses of a given “translation text”?

Post Modernist and Deconstructionist Thinking

Scholars belonging to this approach (e.g. Venuti, 1995) try to critically examine translation practices and processes from a psycho-philosophical and socio-political stance in an attempt to unmask unequal power relations, which may appear as a certain skewing in the translation. In a plea for making translations (and especially translators as their “creators”) “visible” and for revealing ideological and institutional manipulations, proponents of this approach aim to make politically appropriate (and “correct”) statements about the relationship between features of the original text and the translation text. They concentrate on the hidden forces shaping both the process of selecting what gets translated in the first place and the procedures that result in the ways original texts are bent and twisted in the interests of powerful individuals and groups when choosing texts for translation and adopting particular strategies of re-textualization. This is thus certainly a worthwhile undertaking, especially when it comes to explaining the influence translators can exert through their translation on the receiving national literature and its canon.

Linguistically Oriented Approaches

Pioneering linguistic work in TQA includes the programmatic suggestions by Catford (1965), the early Reiss (1971), Wilss (1974), Koller (1979) and the translation scholars of the Leipzig school. In more recent times, several linguistically oriented works on translation such as e.g. by Baker (1992), Doherty (1993), Hatim and Mason (1997), Hickey (1998), Gerzymisch-Arbogast and Mudersbach (1998) have made valuable contributions to evaluating a translation by the very fact that all these authors although not directly concerned with TQAwidened the scope of translation studies to include concerns with linguistics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, stylistics and discourse analysis.

Linguistic approaches take the relationship between source and translation text seriously, but they differ in their capacity to provide detailed procedures for analysis and evaluation. Most promising are approaches which explicitly take account of the interconnectedness of context and text, since the inextricable link between language and the real world is both definitive in meaning making and in translation. Such a view of translation as re-contextualization is the line taken in a functional-pragmatic TQA model first developed 25 years ago and recently revised by Juliane House (1997 and 1981), which is also the model to be studied in the current thesis.

Linguistic Description vs. Social Evaluation in TQA

In TQA it is important to be maximally aware of the difference between linguistic analysis and social judgment. In other words, a distinction must be made between describing and explaining linguistic features of the original text and comparing them with the relevant linguistic features of the translation text on the one hand and judging “how good a translation” is on the other hand. Judgments of the quality of a translation depend on a large variety of factors that enter into any linguistic as well as social evaluative statements. Critical in the case of TQA is the fact that evaluative judgments emanate from the analytic and also comparative process of TQA, i.e., it is the linguistic analysis which provides grounds for arguing an evaluative judgment.

As mentioned previously, the choice of an overt or a covert translation depends not on the text alone, or on the translator’s subjective interpretation of the text, but also on the reasons for the translation, the implied readers, on a variety of publishing and marketing policies, i.e., on factors which clearly have nothing to do with translation as a linguistic procedure because these are social factors which concern human agents as well as socio-cultural, political or ideological constraints and which in the reality of translation practice turn out to be often more influential than linguistic considerations or the professional competence of the translator him/herself. However, it must be stressed that despite all these “external” influences, translation is at its core a linguistic-textual phenomenon, and it can be legitimately described, analyzed and evaluated as such. It is for this reason that the primary concern of TQA should be linguistic-textual analysis and comparison, and any consideration of social factors if it is divorced from textual analysis must be of secondary relevance in a scientific discipline such as translation studies. Of course, linguistic description and explanation must not be confused with evaluative assertions made solely on the basis of social, political, ethical or individual grounds. If we take translation seriously as an object of scientific inquiry, translation must be seen first and foremost for what it is, namely a phenomenon in its own right: A linguistic-textual operation. And the nature of translation as a linguistic-textual operation should not be confuse with issues such as what the translation is for, what it should, might, or must be for.

Translation quality is a problematic concept if it is taken to involve individual and externally motivated value judgment alone. Obviously, passing any “final judgment” on the quality of a translation that fulfills the demands of scientific objectivity is very difficult in deed. As an evaluator, one will always be forced to flexibly move from a macro-analytical focus to a micro-analytical one, from considerations of ideology, function, genre, register, to the communicative value of individual linguistic items. In taking such a multi-perspectival viewpoint, a responsible translation critic will arrive at a position where he or she can give a probabilistic reconstruction of the translator’s choices, and with the support of the translator’s own voice, be able to throw some light on his or her decision processes in an objective manner as possible.

 References

Al-Qiani, J. (2000). Translation Quality Assessment. Strategies, Parameters and Procedures. Meta, XLV, 3, 2000.

Baker, M. (1992). In Other Words. A Coursebook on Translation. London, Routledge.

Basting, M. (2009). Four Steps to Achieving Quality in Translation and Localization.

Bell, R. T. (1991). Translation and translating, theory and practice. London and New York: Longman.

Bensoussan, M. and Rosenhouse, J. (1990). Evaluating Stusents’ Translations by Discourse Analysis. Babel, pp. 65-84.

Biber, D. (1988). Variation Across Speech and Writing. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Catford, J. (1965). A Linguistic Theory of Translation. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Chapelle, C. A. (1998). Some Notes on Systemic-Functional Linguistics.

Crystal, D. and Davy, D. (1969). Investigating English Style. London,    Longman.

Culler, J. (1988). On Puns: The Foundation of Letters. Oxford,: Basil Blackwell.

Daryna, Z. (2009). Seven Secrets of Good Translations

Ebrahimi, B. (2007). Translation Evaluation in Educational Setting for Training Purposes: Theories and Application. Available at 

Farahzad, F. (1992). Testing Achievement in Translation Classes. Amsterdam/Philadelphia. John Benjamins Publishing Co.

Gerasimov, A. (2009). Review of Translation Quality Assurance Software.

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