EDITOR: Ilse Depraetere TITLE: Perspectives on Translation Quality SERIES TITLE: Text, Translation, Computational Processing PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton YEAR: 2011
Daniele Russo, Department of English Studies, University of Milan
This book is a collection of articles on translation quality edited by Ilse Depraetere. The authors of the contributions are both academics and industry professionals who share their experience and expertise in their fields of specialization. The articles are all in English, but in the Acknowledgements the editor states that several articles were translated from French.
The edited volume is divided into four sections, and a total of eleven articles discuss translation quality from different perspectives. More specifically, the aim of this volume is to share insights which are training-oriented or industry-based. This broad approach includes the quality of human translation and machine translation, specialized translation (also called ‘pragmatic translation’ in the volume) and literary translation, as well as translations done by both students and professionals. The methodological approach in this volume is based upon concrete translation evaluation contexts supported by data analysis and hands-on experience, and the contributions can be read through a pragmatic notion of translation in which a translated text (and hence the evaluation thereof) must be adapted to the communicative context of use.
In the Introduction, the editor states that “there are three issues that are important when it comes to translation: quality, quality, and quality” (p. 1), which means that regardless of the translation theory we are pursuing, the main objective of our research effort should be the improvement of the quality of the translation output. Depraetere emphasizes the importance of the variety of contributions included in the volume and its connections with current studies; also, the editor stresses the need for building a bridge between theory and practice and provides a gist of each paper in the volume.
Part I: “Translation quality in the translation training context”
The first article, “A global rating scale for the summative assessment of pragmatic translation at Master’s level: an attempt to combine academic and professional criteria”, by Anne Delizée, discusses the challenges faced by university teachers when evaluating student translations. She presents the evaluation model used in the Master’s degree program in Specialized Multilingual Translation at the University of Lille 3, which is aimed at making students aware of industry standards while giving necessary attention to the pedagogical requirements of the training context. The goal of the model is to evaluate pragmatic texts, i.e. technical, scientific, legal, economic, financial or commercial texts, with the primary goal being communication. The evaluation method combines the assessment of the translation output and the assessment of professional performance. The rating scale is thus based on the following criteria: linguistic skills, translation skills, discipline, linguistic skills in the target language, professional skills, methodological skills, and technical skills.
The second article, “Comparing formal translation evaluation and meaning-oriented translation evaluation: or how QA tools can(not) help”, by Ilse Depraetere and Thomas Vackier, is based on a collaborative project between the Applied Languages Department of the University of Lille 3 and Yamagata Europe, a service provider for translation and localization. The project employs a corpus of Spanish into French student translations and aims to compare the scores attributed to the students’ translations by a human evaluator (using the assessment model presented in the previous article) with the results of an automated formal quality check done via a computer-aided tool (QA Distiller). The purpose of the study is to check to what extent formal translation quality is indicative of overall quality.
The third article, “Number and gender agreement errors in student translations from Spanish into French”, by Carmen Núñez-Lagos and Nathalie Moulard, is based on the same corpus as the previous article and focuses on a frequent error type -- number and gender agreement -- in Spanish to French student translations and explains the reasons underlying the different kinds of mistakes that the authors have identified in their corpus. In fact, number and gender errors can be very common between “gendered” languages such as Spanish and French. This study shows a relative unawareness of the syntactic hierarchy in noun phrases in the trainees’ mother tongue. In order to avoid these errors, the two authors maintain that it is necessary to raise the trainees’ awareness of the impact of linguistics courses in a translation curriculum.
The fourth article “A Lexicogrammar approach to checking quality: looking at one or two cases of comparative translation”, by Christopher Gledhill, shows how a lexicogrammar approach can be used in order to check the quality of a translation. The core of this approach is built on the basic assumptions that each sign in the language has its own particular lexical and grammatical niche in the language system, and empirical data, such as corpora, as well as concordances and contextualized examples, are to be used in order to analyze the habitual use of signs in discourse. In this sense, the lexicogrammar approach is less demanding than other statistical approaches, and more rewarding than a manual and unsystematic approach, as it requires the use of an on-line or corpus-based concordancer and the ability to observe and compare typical patterns of signs in different textual contexts.
Part II: “The evaluation of machine translation”
The fifth article, “A contrastive analysis of MT evaluation techniques”, by Ilse Depraetere, gives a survey of methods to evaluate machine translation. Machine translation is a technology that is more and more employed in the translation industry, which is why there are continual attempts to search for more adequate evaluation techniques. In this study, a corpus of 2,250 source words was machine-translated with a rule-based system and a statistical system and the customized output was evaluated through four techniques: human evaluation of adequacy and fluency, automated evaluation, evaluation based on error analysis, and evaluation based on post-editing time. The correlation and non-correlation of the results offer new insights into these cutting-edge applications.
The sixth article, “MT evaluation based on post-editing: a proposal”, by Nathalie De Sutter, presents a new evaluation technique of machine translation based on post-editing time and post-editing distance. The article shows that the time spent on correcting the mistakes of machine translation and the textual similarity between the machine translation output and the post-edited version of the machine translation output correlate with the general quality of the output as assessed by human evaluators.
Part III: “Quality Assurance in the translation workflow”
The seventh article, “Quality Assurance in the translation workflow -- A professional’s testimony”, by Nancy Matis, gives a survey of various quality assurance processes that can apply to standard translation projects or to software, websites, and other e-content localization projects. The author distinguishes two main levels of quality check: linguistic quality assurance and technical quality assurance. The choices regarding revision processes depend on several factors, such as type of project, subject of the project, customer, volume of the project, resources, schedule, and budget. The quality assurance process may be very quick and general or, on the contrary, extensive and very precise.
The eighth article, “A contrastive analysis of the automated QA tools (QA Distiller 6.5.8, Xbench 2.8, ErrorSpy 5.0, SDL Trados 2007 QA Checker 2.0 and SDLX 2007 SP2 QA Check)”, by Antonia Debove, Sabrina Furlan and Ilse Depraetere, shows that quality assurance tools constitute a welcomed technique in the translation industry, since they offer a means of performing automated checks of the consistency, terminology, number values, tags and punctuation, and in this way, make the reviewers’ task easier, leaving them more time to focus on semantic errors. This contribution offers a comparison of five formal quality evaluation tools on the basis of the most relevant features: interface and user-friendliness, performance, and cost. Finally, the article emphasizes the importance of integrating such tools into the translation workflow.
The ninth article, “Management of translation memory quality in the Spanish Department of the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission”, by José Luis Vega Expósito, is aimed to show, using examples from experiences in the Department of the Directorate- General, how translation memory management applications can contribute to terminological and phraseological consolidation, and consequently, to the stability, clarity and consistency of the administrative language.
Part IV: “Domain-specific quality: legal translation and literary translation”
The aim of the tenth article, “Quality issues in the field of legal translation”, by Patricia Vanden Bulcke and Armand Héroguel, is to tackle the issue of quality assurance in the field of legal translation. Firstly, this contribution discusses the nature of the legal text and the role of its specific features in translation by proposing a taxonomy of sub-genres according to function, translation strategies and genre characteristics. After showing a number of examples from English, Dutch, French and Spanish, the author concludes that the translation of a legal text is bound more to comparative law analysis than language. As soon as the legal text is defined with regard to category, genre, and system, the translation is to align with the function that the translated text must fulfill within the new legal context (according to Nord’s Skopos Theory, 1997. Finally, the authors state that concrete quality criteria for legal translation should go beyond the realm of terminology and include other considerations such as phraseology and structure, style, and syntax which are peculiar in legal texts.
In the last article, “The problem of self-assessment in literary translation”, by Olivier Vanwersch-Cot, the author proposes to analyze the process of self-assessment on the basis of concrete examples drawn from his experience as a literary translator. He specifically focuses on his translation of the novel ‘De joodse messias [The Jewish Messiah]’, by the writer Arnon Grunberg. The author concludes that self-assessment is not an accessory but rather an essential part of the translation process of literary works because it helps recreate meaning, rhythm, images, and connotations.
This volume presents a collection of eleven articles exploring various topics on translation quality from both theoretical and empirical points of view, while also introducing the state-of-the-art technologies used in this field. It is very informative and, on the methodological level, puts forward new hypotheses that can prove useful both to trainers and language professionals. In fact, this volume can be of interest both to the layman interested in translation quality and to the language specialist interested in evaluation techniques; it is actually free of the excessive use of technical jargon typical of other similar publications. The language use is thus very precise, scientific, and clear but not parochial.
The articles are all in English, but the copious examples of translation are in English, French, Spanish, and Dutch (in some cases Spanish into French and Dutch into French translations include English translations for those who do not understand those languages). Many of the articles focus on the role of technologies in the translation process and in the translation evaluation of specialized texts, while other contributions explore diverse approaches involving literary and legal texts. Compared with previous work in the field, this collection of articles shows a very pragmatic approach and provides sensible solutions to the task of assessing a translated text, especially for educational purposes.
Those interested in translation quality models will find valuable insights in the first section of this collection, in which Delizée presents the evaluation model used in the Master’s program in Specialized Multilingual Translation at the University of Lille 3, and Depraetere discusses the use of a cutting-edge computerized translation quality checker to implement formal quality in translated texts. Both contributions illustrate the necessity of interaction between human quality assessment and computer-assisted technologies. Gledhill introduces another empirical hands-on approach that is particularly feasible and systematic, as it is based on deep-rooted lexicogrammar notions.
The editor, who also authored and co-authored three articles of the volume, has done an excellent job of selecting and compiling the contributions, which show a wide range of themes and approaches. Even with such variety, the cohesion of the collection is maintained through frequent links between the articles of the book, thus highlighting interdependencies among apparently distant fields, such as literary translation and technical translation.
The best aspect of this book is that it is the result of the collaboration between academics and industry professionals. Therefore, it synthesizes varying viewpoints based on real professional experiences. The volume stands out from other books on translation quality because it does not oppose machine translation on ideological grounds. Conversely, it shows that it is bound to become a common support tool in translators’ daily practice, and thus, fully integrated within the human translation (''transediting'' in Ulrych’s words, 2011) process.
Nord, Christiane. 1997. Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained. Manchester UK, St. Jerome Publishing.
Ulrych, Margherita. 2011. Transediting and its relevance to medical discourse. In Loiacono, A., Iamartino, G., and Grego. K. (eds.). Teaching Medical English. Monza, Polimetrica Publisher, pp. 75-93.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Dr. Daniele Russo is a faculty member at the University of Milan, where he
teaches English Language and English Linguistics to undergraduates. His
research interests include translation criticism, diachronic linguistics,
medical specialized language and translation. He is also a translator of
fiction and specialized literature.