The definition of value or quality with respect to work in translation has historically been a particularly vexed issue. Today, however, the growing demand for translations in such fields as technology and business and the increased scrutiny of translators' work by scholars in many disciplines is giving rise to a need for more nuanced, more specialized, and more explicit methods of determining value. Some refer to this determination as evaluation, others use the term assessment. Either way, the question is one of measurement and judgement, which are always unavoidably subjective and frequently rest on criteria that are not overtly expressed. This means that devising more complex evaluative practices involves not only quantitative techniques but also an exploration of the attitudes, preferences, or individual values on which criteria are established.
Intended as an interrogation and a critique that can serve to prompt a more thorough and open consideration of evaluative criteria, this special issue of The Translator offers examinations of diverse evaluative practices and contains both empirical and hermeneutic work. Topics addressed include the evaluation of student translations using more up-to-date and positive methods such as those employed in corpus studies; the translation of non?standard language; translation into the second language; terminology; the application of theoretical criteria to practice; a social?textual perspective; and the reviewing of literary translations in the press. In addition, reviews by a number of literary translators discuss specific translations both into and out of English.
Table of Contents
Evaluation and Translation: Contents
Introduction, Carol Maier, pp 137-148
Translation Quality Assessment: Where Can Theory and Practice Meet?, Susanne Lauscher, pp 149-168
Despite increased interest within translation studies to provide orientation for translation quality assessment (TQA), academic efforts in this area are still largely ignored, if not explicitly rejected by the profession. The purpose of this paper is to investigate why scientific models for evaluating translations are difficult to apply and to outline a number of ways in which the gap between theoretical approaches and practical needs may be negotiated. Following a critical analysis of some TQA models, the paper suggests that a reductionist view of translations as products and a neglect of the conditions under which translations are produced ultimately result in evaluation criteria which cannot account for the individuality of target texts. An examination of an actual instance of English-German translation demonstrates that the translation process is guided by case?specific values. These values, as well as the macro?level and micro?level strategies employed to realize them, are set and agreed by the interested parties during the translation process. In order to judge the quality of a translation, the values should be made accessible to the evaluator and operationalized as evaluation parameters. Because the use and application of evaluation parameters always depends on situational and individual factors, translation quality is ultimately a matter of agreement and consensus.
Toward a Terminology for Translation Quality Assessment: A Comparison of TQA Practices, Louise Brunette, pp 169-182
Recent research on the revision and assessment of general texts has revealed that the terms and concepts used in discussing this process are somewhat confused, hence the need to map out the terminology used in various evaluative practices. This article offers an overview of translation assessment and attempts to define the key terms specific to this field, including subfields such as translation management quality control (assessment; formative revision) as well as revision theory (assessment criteria; purpose). Each concept and term is discussed at length and exemplified. The article focuses initially on various assessment procedures, including pragmatic revision, translation quality assessment, quality control, didactic revision, and 'fresh look'. For these procedures to be scientifically credible and ethically acceptable, they must be based on clearly defined criteria. Thus, the second part of the article puts forward criteria which have been delimited and duly tested in prior research, namely: logic, context, purpose and language norm.
A Corpus-Based Approach to Evaluating Student Translations, Lynne Bowker, pp 183-210
Translation evaluation is highly problematic because of its subjective nature. In a translation classroom, efforts must be made to develop an approach to translation evaluation that enables evaluators to provide objective and constructive feedback to their students. This article describes a specially-designed Evaluation Corpus and presents an experiment which demonstrates that such a corpus can be used to significantly reduce the subjective element in translation evaluation and illustrates that this reduced subjectivity will benefit both evaluators and students.
Critical Structures in the Evaluation of Translations from Arabic into English as a Second Language, Stuart Campbell, pp 211-229
It is argued in this paper that the output of translators working into English as a second language can be evaluated by means of examining their ability to translate certain critical structures. These claims are made on the basis of data-based research with the support of a cognitive theory about language processing during translation, and an analytical procedure that models the decision pathways of translators. In brief, it will be argued that in timed translation into English as a second language, certain critical structures can provide important data, which can assist in evaluating translation students and in syllabus design. Specifically, the structures of ellipsis and relative clauses appear to be critical cases. The paper begins with a discussion of the relevance and distinctiveness of translation into English as a second language (TRESL). A sketch of the underpinning theory is presented, followed by a study of translations by Arabic-English student translators. The paper ends with a discussion of the usefulness of critical structures in evaluating cross-clause processing and cognitive style in translators working into English as a second language.
Evaluating Beginners' Re-Expression and Creativity: A Positive Approach, Georges L. Bastin, pp 231-245
Although translation may be considered a two- (or three-) phase communication process, consisting of comprehension - (conceptualization) - re-expression, most theoretical and pedagogical studies have been devoted to comprehension and conceptualization. There is, however, an increasing need to establish a theoretical basis for the third phase, since, contrary to Boileau's dictum (that well conceived ideas can be easily expressed), even when comprehension is complete, words do not come easily. If re-expression is to be better taught, evaluation of re-expression must be better thought. This paper focuses on the evaluation of re-expression in translation. Based on an in-depth study of various English texts translated into French by some 38 first-year translation students, it first calls attention to the difference between expression and re-expression and between creativity and literality, viewing the former as a 'deviation' from the latter. Second, it argues in favour of positive evaluation, given that negative evaluation has a relatively limited impact on the learning process, and further study of it would not be very productive. Positive evaluation involves analysis of successful solutions rather than of errors. The paper goes on to analyse which aspects of re-expression need to be evaluated and how this should be accomplished.
The Two Faces of Standardization: On the Translation of Regionalisms in Literary Dialogue, Ritva Leppihalme, pp 247-269
Non-standard language varieties such as dialect and sociolect are known to present serious problems for translators. The function(s) they serve in the source text can be weakened or lost in translation because there may well be no target-language variety with sufficiently similar situational characteristics. On the other hand, the common strategy of rendering non-standard source-language dialogue by standard target-language dialogue can lead to loss of the linguistic identity of the work and its author. This paper examines standardization through the English translation of one of the Finnish author Kalle Päätalo's early novels. It suggests that standardization is not necessarily only negative in its results, as target readers may be more interested in other aspects of the target text than its linguistic identity.
Quality Assessment and Literary Translation in France, Isabelle Vanderschelden, pp 271-293
This article examines the current place of literary translation in the French literary polysystem. By considering the perspectives of various parties, such as publishers, literary translators and book reviewers, its objective is to survey the impact of translated literature in France and to explore the visibility of the literary translator and of translated literature. More specifically, the article raises the issue of quality assessment of translations published in France and analyzes some of the criteria applied both explicitly and implicitly when literary texts in translation are evaluated. The arguments developed here are based mainly on information collected about French publishers and literary translators from interviews or other accounts, and also on recent reviews of translated literature published in the French press.
Translation in the Broadsheets, Peter Fawcett, pp 295-307
Despite the decline in literary translation into English documented by some scholars, the broadsheets and review journals published in the United Kingdom continue to invite reviewers - who are themselves usually creative authors in their own right - to review translated literature. Occasionally, broader questions of translation are also discussed. This paper examines a sample of such reviews in an attempt to uncover the parameters defining the usually implicit framework within which translation criticism is conducted and what seems to be the overwhelmingly preferred translation strategy.
Revisiting the Classics
Wintering Out with Irish Poetry: Affiliation and Autobiography in English Translation
Review of Seamus Heaney's Sweeney Astray (Maria Tymoczko, USA)