The Linguist

The Linguist 54,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES 22 The Linguist Vol/54 No/4 2015 Elsa Huertas Barros and Juliet Vine attempt to close the gap between the assessment methods used by the translation industry and academia E veryone involved in translation will regularly assess translations. University lecturers assess student translations; self-employed translators assess their own translations and those of their colleagues; project managers, clients and end users may all assess translations. But are we all doing the same thing when assessing a translation? And, indeed, should we all be doing the same thing? Although assessment lies at the heart of much translation practice, both academically and professionally, it is extremely difficult to establish what it is that is being assessed and how it should be assessed. As professional translator Emma Wagner said in a debate with Translation Studies academic Andrew Chesterman: 1 'I sometimes wonder how we manage to mark exams and revise translations with such confidence, when we have no objective way of measuring quality and no agreed standards.' Whether the new international standard ISO 17100:2015 becomes an 'agreed standard' remains to be seen, but like other attempts to assess translations via standards, it sidesteps the issue of defining the quality of the product. Instead, it outlines the processes for producing quality-assured translations. The premise of the dialogue between Chesterman and Wagner – that academics and professionals are not part of a seamless whole but two opposing sides that need to be encouraged to find ways to communicate – is the focus of much of the discussion on assessment. Both professional translators and translation trainers have considered ways in which assessment can 'bridge the gap' between the two sides in an attempt to answer two questions: can academia help industry to assess translations; and, conversely, can industry help academia to assess more effectively? Do we need translation theory? As soon as we start to analyse what exactly we do when we assess a translation, we begin to consider what constitutes a good translation. This leads to questions about the very nature of translation. Juliane House has stated that there can be no effective assessment without a theory of translation, because it is not possible to assess whether something has been successfully translated without a well-defined concept of what translation is. 2 However, deciding how to apply the theory to the practice in order to evaluate a translation is not easy, especially if every individual translation choice needs to be evaluated. As Joanne Drugan points out, perceptions of quality differ between academia and industry. 3 This can be generalised as academics trying to find a definition of 'good' and industry trying to find a definition of 'good enough'. The pragmatic approach informs the Skopos theory, which evaluates translation in terms of how it conforms to the translation brief or commission of the task at hand. Assessing the situation Academics try to find a definition of 'good' and industry tries to find a definition of 'good enough'

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