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Translation quality assessment: an application of a rhetorical model

By MAM Barghout


Translation quality assessment is a fast growing sub-field of\ud Translation Studies. It focuses on the inter-relationships between the\ud text translated from (ST) and the text translated into (TT). These\ud inter-relationships involve the lexis, grammar, syntax, and semantics\ud of both texts. Unlike sentences in isolation, texts are context-bound.\ud Distinctions between text and sentence are made. Text-bound\ud translation can only be conducted and assessed within the domain of\ud text-linguistics.\ud Assessment of translation quality should be based on a definable,\ud applicable, and testable model which, in turn, should be based on a\ud sound, comprehensive theory of translation. Current models for\ud translation emphasite one aspect against other aspects. For instance,\ud the grammatical model focuses on the linguistic aspect of translation.\ud The cultural model, on the other hand, highlights the communicative\ud aspect whereas the interpretive model concentrates on the pragmatic\ud aspect of translation. Such artificial compartmentalization is alien\ud to the nature of translation. As a process translation, in fact,\ud involves the integrated synthesis of the above aspects.\ud This theris presents a model for translation quality assessment\ud based on a sound theory of translation which comprehends the\ud philosophical (pragmatic), communicative (cross-cultural), and semiotic\ud (linguistic) aspects of langauge. Since translation is a semantic entity, our model - which we label 'rhetorical' - focuses on the\ud concept of 'meaning shifts' according to which the meaning of a text is\ud classifiable into obligatory, extended, and accessory meanings. This\ud does not suggest that the semantic structures of a text exist in a\ud state of utter un-relatedness. On the contrary, they survive in the\ud form of inter-related layers within the macro-structure of the text.\ud The relative dominance of any of the three meaning categories\ud determines the type of text.\ud According to this model, texts are broadly classified into\ud literary, non-literary, and hybrid texts. In a literary text, extended\ud and accessory meanings abound leaving a tiny room for obligatory\ud meaning. In non-literary texts, on the other hand, extended and\ud accessory meanings recede to the background leaving the obligatory\ud meaning in the foreground. In hybrid or fuzzy texts, semantic\ud structures are disproportionately distributed with no dominance of any\ud specific category. The topic and scope of a hybrid text determine the\ud volume of extended and accessory meaning in relation to obligatory\ud meaning.\ud The model is not intended for translation quality assessment only.\ud It has pedagogical implications as well. Translation students and\ud trainees can implement this model in textual analysis before they\ud embark on the process of translation. Phonological, grammatical,\ud syntactic, semantic, and lexical correspondences between SL and TL texts are identified before assessment of translation quality is\ud established

Topics: PB0001, mem_text_and_place
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