Minggu, 24 April 2011

Assessing the Quality of Idiomatic Translation

Talking about assessing the quality of translation may be we directly question who has the right to assess the quality of a translation. Assessing a translation should be done by some person, so that they can do such a cross-check between themselves. (Larson, 1984: 532)

Actually, who ever the persons are available to check the quality of translation but, they have to have qualified in this field. It means that, they have a good knowledge of both of language, source language and target language. They have a good mind of sociology-cultural of both of language. They can be the translators themselves, a translation consultants, testers, or reviewers. (Larson, 1984: 533) Whatever kind of checking is being by them, it needs to be done systematically, and notes need to be taken carefully.

In his book, Larson proposed several ways of testing or assessing a translation. The ways are following:

1) Comparison with the source text

One of the main purposes of the comparison is to check for equivalence of information content. The comparison is actually a self – check; that is, it is done by the translator. Of course, it could be done by someone else who knows both languages well and knows translation principles. After checking to be sure that all of the information is there, the translator will make another comparison of source language and receptor language texts, looking for any problems.

A careful comparison with the source text will need to be made several times during the translation process. “The best way to do comparison check is to have a draft of the translation which is type with double spacing and wide margin so that ideas can be written in the margin and so that the alternatives can be written above the line for later evaluation.” (Larson, 1984: 534)

2) Back-translating into the source language

After we done the translation, second way to check the quality of translation is back-translating into the source language. That is having someone else, who is bilingual in the source and receptor languages, make a back – translation of the translated text into the source language. This person takes the translation and writes out the meaning he gets from it back into source language. He should do it without having read the source text used by the translator. This back translation will let the translator know what is being communicated to this person. Translating and back translating are very different. In translation one “uses natural and clear forms” while in back translating “literal forms are used in order to show up the structure of the translation being back-translated”. The back-translation focuses on meaning equivalences rather than naturalness (Larson, 1984: 535). So it is clear that this way does not test naturalness and it, of course, need other way to assess the quality of a translation.

3) Comprehension tests

The purpose is to see whether the translation is understood by the native speakers. This kind of test is done by persons who are fluent speaker or the receptor or target language. The thing that should be done by the testers is asking the question about the translated text. Styles of questions are concerned to the genre of the text of translation. The purpose is to see the appropriateness between source language and the target language.

This way is done by native speakers of the receptor language. These people should be ordinary people from various classes of the society. Testing should be done with young people, middle aged, and older people. It should be done with the more highly educated and with the newly literate, if the translation is intended for all. The respondent is asked to retell or give a summary of the material read. The tester should be careful to choose a section which is a unit and which is not so long that it would be hard to remember the content.

The second step in comprehension testing is asking questions about the translated text. The questions should be prepared beforehand, not made up on the spot. This gives the tester time to think through what he expects the respondent to understand and to decide exactly what he wants to check.

There are several kinds of questions, each with a different purpose. Questions may be asked to give information about the discourse style, or about the theme of the text, or they may be questions which have to do with details; Style questions are related to the genre and the style of the translation. Questions may also be asked which are designed to evaluate the translation of the theme. These questions focus on the high points of the story or argument. The purpose of these theme questions is to determine if the main points of meaning are clear in the translation. The theme questions are used to begin the discussion.

Detail questions are questions about words, phrases, and other matters which the tester does not want to ask while he is concentrating on the main points of the text. Detail questions often lead to complicated discussions and would cause the respondent to lose track of main points, if asked while discussing genre or theme. The answers to most detailed questions should be clearly found in the text unless one is checking to see if implicit information is retrievable. (Larson, 1984: 539)

4) Naturalness and readability testing

The purpose of naturalness tests is to see if the form of translation is natural and the style is appropriate. This test is done by reviewers that are people who are willing to spent reading the translation and make comments and suggestions to the translation. (Larson, 1984: 542)
For readability test, it is done by some one. The translator asks some one to read a part of translation aloud. While listen to the text red, the translator makes a note for evaluation. (Larson, 1984: 544) This kind of test is same with what Duff suggests for helping the translator produce a text translation sounds naturally. (Choliluddin, 2007: 43)

5) Consistency checks.

As the translation comes near to completion, it is very important that consistency checks of various kinds be made. Some of these have to do with the content of the translation and others have to do with the technical details of presentation. All of those who are testing the translation should be alert for reading problems related to formatting as well as content.

The source text will have had certain key terms which were identified and for which lexical equivalents were found. If the document being translated is a long one, or done over a long period of time, it is possible that the translator has been inconsistent in the use of lexical equivalents for some key terms. At the end of the translation project, a check should be done of such terms. This will be especially true in technical, political, or religious documents.

In order to make a good translation and acceptable to the target language well, doing consistency check is very useful for the translation. By doing this, the translator can aware the mistakes that can be occur while translation process. This way needs more careful attention because the thing that is checking, most of them, are small-looked thing, such as the use of capital and punctuation, question mark, commas, brackets, the spelling of name of a foreign words, peoples, and cities. (Larson, 1984: 546)


Larson, MIldred, L. (1998). Meaning-Based Translation, a Guide to Cross- Language Equivalence, 2nd Ed. New York, Oxford: Univesity Press of America inc.