Evaluation of the quality and language complexity of the translation
Translation quality – the results of the translation process, which are determined by the degree of its compliance with the translation norm and the nature of involuntary or conscious deviations from this norm.
Translation quality is determined by:
• the degree of semantic closeness of the translation to the original;
• genre and stylistic affiliation of the texts of the original and translation;
• pragmatic factors influencing the choice of translation option.
These aspects of translation are:
• are of a normative nature;
• define the translator’s strategy and criteria for evaluating the translation.
Normative requirements for the quality of translation make sense only in relation to a certain type of texts and certain conditions of translation activity. It would be fundamentally wrong to use the same criteria for evaluating the translation of a boulevard novel and a highly artistic literary work, the translation of an opera libretto and a patent certificate.
The most objective criterion for characterizing the results of the translator’s activity is the equivalence of the translation to the original.
In practice, the criticism of translations is based on an intuitive idea of the genre-stylistic norm:
• the translation of a work of art is evaluated according to its literary merits;
• technical translation – according to terminological correctness;
• translation of advertising – according to its effectiveness.
For a number of practical purposes, such a system of criteria is needed, which would proceed from the gradation of errors based on the degree of distortion of the original content during translation.
Main types of errors:
• which constitute a gross misrepresentation of the content; as a result, the translation points to a completely different situation and actually misinforms the receptor;
• leading to an inaccurate transfer of the meaning of the original, but not distorting it completely – the translation describes the same situation as in the original, but its individual details are not indicated accurately enough. For example: He was one of the best British football players in 1930’s. – In 1930 he was one of the best footballers in England. The translator did not pay attention to the plural formant when naming the year in the original – “thirties”.
• not violating the general meaning of the original, but reducing the quality of the translated text due to deviations from the stylistic norms of the target language, the use of units of little use in this type of text, the abuse of foreign borrowings or technical jargon, etc.;
• violations of the mandatory norms of the target language, which do not affect the equivalence of the translation, but indicate the translator’s insufficient knowledge of this language or his inability to overcome the influence of the original language.
When assessing the quality of a particular translation on the usual five-point scale, errors of these types are assigned a certain “evaluative weight”.
For example: each error of the first type reduces the overall assessment of the translation by one point, the second – by half a point, and errors of the third and fourth types will affect the assessment only if they are not isolated, but typical, and then they collectively reduce the assessment even more by half a point. These standards are correlated with a certain amount of translation material – in case of a large volume, an appropriate recalculation is made.
Such criteria are, of course, conditional. They may include additional coefficients depending on the degree of importance of the translated materials and the type of translation:
Translation norm – a set of requirements for the quality of translation, which is determined by the degree of its compliance with the translation norm and the nature of involuntary or conscious deviations from this norm. The concept of a translation norm includes:
• requirement of normative use of the target language by the translator;
• the need for the results of the translation process to be consistent with generally accepted views on the goals and objectives of translation activities.
Normative requirements are formulated in the form of principles or translation rules. Regulations may be formulated as a single rule, or be accompanied by indications of the conditions under which the rule is applicable, or of more or less cases of its inapplicability.
In each case, the normative recommendations apply to a certain range of phenomena and have a different degree of generalization, for example:
• rules for the transmission of non-equivalent vocabulary;
• rules for transferring proper names;
• rules for the transfer of Indian names such as “Cunning Fox”, “Great Serpent”;
• the rule of preservation in the translation of the traditional names of kings – Louis, Heinrich, Karl.
The translation norm is formed as a result of the interaction of the following types of regulatory requirements.
• norm of translation equivalence – the need for the greatest possible commonality of the content of the original and the translation. Violation of the norm of equivalence can be absolute, when the translation is recognized as non-equivalent, not conveying the content of the original at least at the lowest level, or relative, if it is established that the remaining normative requirements could be met at the highest level of equivalence than that which was actually achieved in translation;
• genre-stylistic norm – the requirement that the translation correspond to the dominant function and stylistic features of the type of text to which the translation belongs. In many respects, it determines both the required level of equivalence and the dominant function, the provision of which is the main task of the translator and the main criterion for assessing the quality of his work;
• pragmatic norm – the requirement to ensure the pragmatic value of the translation. In an effort to fulfill a specific pragmatic task, the translator may refuse the maximum possible equivalence, translate the original only partially, change the genre of the text during translation, reproduce some formal features of the translation, etc. The pragmatic conditions of the translation act may make it necessary to completely or partially reject compliance with the translation norm; to replace the actual translation with a paraphrase, abstract or some other type of transmission of the original content;
• conventional norm – the requirement of maximum closeness of the translation to the original; its ability to fully replace the original both in general and in detail, fulfilling the tasks for which the translation was carried out.
In practical terms, there is a certain hierarchy between the various aspects of the translation norm:
• the translator and the users of the translation primarily pay attention to the pragmatic value of translation, to the success of solving the pragmatic “super task”;
• genre and stylistic norm – it also turns out to be set for the majority of translations and does not require each time to re-analyze the stylistic features of the original;
• conventional norm – remains unchanged for a long period of time and determines the general approach of the translator to his work, the degree of his desire to achieve maximum equivalence;
• equivalence norm – represents the final normative requirement, which must be fulfilled, provided that all other aspects of the translation norm are observed.
Undoubtedly, the completeness of the transfer of the content of the original in the translation is the most important – this is the most “proper translation” normative requirement for translation. The equivalence of the translation to the original is also the most objective criterion for characterizing the results of the translator’s activity.
Translation interpretation of the text
Translation problems are problems of analysis, understanding and construction of the text. In this regard, many translators consider the text as the main unit of translation.
A text is a speech work with the help of which verbal communication is carried out. The text consists of statements that the speaker creates by selecting language units and connecting them according to the grammar rules of another language in accordance with his communicative intention. The construction and understanding of the statement occurs on the basis of both linguistic and extralinguistic factors.
The text is a complex structural and meaningful whole, the communicative potential of which is much greater than the total content of its constituent statements. The translator must be able to perceive this integrity of the original text and ensure the integrity of the translation text they create.
Given the paramount role of the text in translation, translation theorists are trying to develop a translation typology of texts that would reflect differences in the overall strategy of the translator, different degrees of reproduction of individual elements or functions of the original, and the role of the translator as the creator of the translated text.
K. Rice suggests distinguishing between the following types of texts:
• in the first one, the description function dominates – such a text is content-oriented, and when translating these texts (commercial, scientific, business), the translator’s task is to convey this message as fully as possible;
• in the second – the function of the expression. It is considered form-oriented (fiction), and the task of the translator is to preserve the artistic and aesthetic impact of the original;
• in the third – the call function. Focused on the appeal, seeks to achieve a certain extralinguistic effect, and therefore this appeal to the listener or reader must be clearly conveyed in the translation;
• the fourth type of texts is audio-media (texts of radio and TV programs, stage works). When translating such texts, it is necessary to take into account the conditions of the non-linguistic environment in which they will be used.
A. Neubert believed that the most important task of translation is to convey the real impact of the original text on its reader, so that the readers of the translation would have the same pragmatic attitudes towards the transmitted message. In this regard, he classified translated texts based on their pragmatic orientation:
• In the first type, the original text and the translation have common goals based on common needs. The content of the original is not intended exclusively for the audience of the source language (advertisements, scientific and technical literature);
• the second type of relationship is characteristic of texts exclusively intended for the audience of the source language (official orders, local information);
• the third – fiction – although texts are created for the audience of the source language, they can also express universal needs;
• fourth – created in the source language, but intended for translation into another language and initially focused on the audience of the target language.
The content structure of a text can be viewed in three different dimensions.
The vertical structure of the text is created by its formal thematic content, starting with the general idea or theme of the text, which unfolds in ever smaller fragments of the text: subtopics, subsubtopics, microtopics, up to individual judgments. Such a “top-down” deployment is carried out by the speaker, who creates the text in accordance with his communicative intention. The perceiving text forms this hierarchical structure in the opposite direction – “bottom-up”, from smaller parts of the content to a holistic understanding of the entire text.
The horizontal structure is created by formal and semantic connections between statements. The formal cohesion of the text (cohesion) is achieved with the help of various linguistic means: unions, repetitions, substitute words, coordination of temporary and other forms, etc. The semantic unity of the text (coherence) is ensured by the logical consistency and consistency of the presentation, logical connections (“so” , “therefore”, “to summarize”, etc.), the use of stereotypical formulas denoting the beginning and ending of the narrative, anaphoric and cataphoric references to other parts.
Directly related to the coherence of the text is its theme-rhematic structure.
In the content of the statement, two semantic focuses can be distinguished:
• subject – the starting point of the message; what is supposed to be known to the interlocutor or offered to him as something given;
• rheme – the main semantic center of the message; what is reported; the new information for which this message was created.
The correlation of theme and rheme or actual articulation is also characteristic of the semantic structure of an individual utterance.
The deep structure of the content of the text reflects the process of constructing speech statements and including them in the text. The linguistic means that the speaker uses to convey the intended message serve as a kind of “meaning building blocks”, and in each utterance they are selected and organized in such a way as to interpret the meanings in relation to each other and in relation to the reality they designate.
In any act of communication, the “depth” of understanding the transmitted message may not be the same for different communicators, and some of them may be content with the generalized linguistic content of the statement. There are cases when the linguistic content of the utterance is only partially understood or is not recognized at all by the communicant due to his lack of the necessary linguistic or background knowledge, which deprives him of the ability to compare and correctly interpret the “bricks of meaning”.
The linguistic content of the text is only the first layer of its “deep” semantic structure. This layer plays the role of the basis of such a structure, since the global content of the text is extracted from and through it. However, it usually contains only a minor part of the information conveyed in the text.
To a large extent, the secondary actualization of the meanings of language units expands and enriches the information that communicants can extract from individual statements and the text as a whole. Although the linguistic content of the text can independently perform some communicative functions, its main role in speech communication is carried out due to the fact that this description of a typical situation is correlated with specific referents and thus each statement is included in a single context associated with the same contexts of other statements in the same text, becomes a real speech statement, a unit of text. Now the “bricks of meaning” that make up the state of the utterance are additionally interpreted in relation to specific objects of thought.
The contextualization of the utterance is the basis of speech communication, a prerequisite for the functioning of the language as a means of communication between people. It is the concrete-contextual meaning of the utterance that is the main content of most acts of verbal communication. The ability to describe many specific situations using the same set of language units significantly expands the communicative potential of the language; includes verbal communication in the practical activities of people; connects what is said with what is perceived through the senses.
The global content of the text is composed of the following semantic layers:
• language content;
• concrete-contextual sense;
• implicit sense.
Of no small importance in speech communication is the ability of the linguistic content of the utterance to convey additional meaning implicitly associated with it and derived from it by communicants.