1st Edition

Evaluating the Evaluator
A Novel Perspective on Translation Quality Assessment

ISBN 9780367417130
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
296 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This book offers a theoretical framework for assessing translation quality grounded in supportive argumentation. The volume outlines a systematic framework for translators and translation critics to substantiate their decisions and judgments on a translation’s quality and in the case of negative criticism, put forward a more effective translation solution. The book traces the decision-making process underpinning translation practice, considering the different factors surrounding a particular translation to inform the most appropriate translation strategy, such as the temporal and geographical relationship between source and target texts, special provisions required by clients, timeframe, qualifications, and sociocultural and political issues. The framework posits that such factors should underpin any arguments used by the translator in adopting a given strategy and in turn, that any criticism of a translation’s quality must be in line with the same argumentative structure. Applied to a corpus of translation examiners’ reports of translation, the book demonstrates how this framework can act as a tool to be scaled to fit the needs of the different actors of a translation – translators, critics, and scholars. This book will be of interest to scholars in translation studies and practicing translators.

Table of Contents



The quality of translation: different approaches

Juliane House

Malcolm Williams

Heidrun Gerzymisch-Arbogast and Klaus Mudersbach

Ernst-August Gutt

Other approaches to translation quality

Approaches to translation quality in the twentieth century

Approaches to translation quality in the twenty-first century

Preliminary assumptions

Defining translation quality and translation quality assessment

Some thoughts on measuring quality

Some thoughts on achieving good quality

Revisiting overt and covert translation

Refining the concept of overt/covert translation: overview

Refining the concept of overt/covert translation: detailed discussion

The problem of subjective evaluation

The problem of subjectivity from a philosophical point of view

The process of translation quality assessment

The problem of subjectivity from a translation studies point of view

How to curb the subjective in translation quality assessment

Towards evaluating the evaluator

Some views on how to evaluate translations

The evaluation of commented translations

Quality factors of translation

The "translator’s daffodil"

Underlying assumptions

Factor categories

Source text

Language pairs in translation and source text analysis (Nord)

Sender and sender’s intention

Audience and medium

Place and time of communication

Motive for communication and text function

Source text defects

Summary of source text factors

Text form

Intratextual factors

Subject matter and content

Text composition and non-verbal elements

Lexis, syntax, and suprasegmental features

Selected text types

Poetry, drama, and comics

Audiovisual translation

Summary of text form factors


Client roles



Stipulations and specifications


Summary of client factors


Overview and translation tools

Translation competence

Qualification and motivation

Summary of translator factors


The relativity of culture

Cultural norms

Translation in different cultures at different times in history

Borderline cases: unlikely successes and EU translations

Summary of culture factors


Power relations


More power issues

Politics and the evaluation of translation quality

Summary of politics factors

The principle of argumentation

The need for an argumentative translation quality assessment

The need for translation theory

The need for argumentation in translation

Summary – the need for an argumentative translation quality assessment

Translation decisions

Decision-making and translation

Defining the translation strategy

Summary of the decision-making process in translation

The argumentation process

A theory of dialectical structures

Dialectical structures in translation quality assessment

Examples of argumentation

Criticising the translation of a young adult novel

Criticising the translation of a survey

Evaluating the evaluator

The corpus: examiners’ reports of commented translations


Looking at formal characteristics

Looking at aspects of translation quality assessment

Source and target

Errors and achievements

Evidence and arguments

Summary of methodological issues


Formal characteristics

Aspects of translation quality assessment

Source and target

Errors and achievements

Evidence and arguments

Summary of results



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Hansjörg Bittner served as a lecturer at Eastern Mediterranean University (English Literature) and at the University of Hildesheim (Translation Studies). His publications cover poetics, translation theory, and audiovisual translation. A practising translator, he is currently a lecturer at Hof University of Applied Sciences, teaching business English and technical English.