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An english – vietnamese translation quality assessment on “the great gatsby” by f scott fitzgerald

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES



TRIỆU THU HẰNG

AN ENGLISH - VIETNAMESE
TRANSLATION QUALITY ASSESSMENT ON
“THE GREAT GATSBY” BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
ĐÁNH GIÁ CHẤT LƯỢNG BẢN DỊCH ANH – VIỆT
TÁC PHẨM “ĐẠI GIA GATSBY”
CỦA NHÀ VĂN F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

M.A THESIS

Field: English Linguistics
Code: 60220201

HANOI – 2015



VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES



TRIỆU THU HẰNG

AN ENGLISH - VIETNAMESE
TRANSLATION QUALITY ASSESSMENT ON
“THE GREAT GATSBY” BY F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
ĐÁNH GIÁ CHẤT LƯỢNG BẢN DỊCH ANH – VIỆT
TÁC PHẨM “ĐẠI GIA GATSBY”
CỦA NHÀ VĂN F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

M.A THESIS

Field: English Linguistics
Code: 60220201
Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lê Hùng Tiến

HANOI – 2015


STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP
I certify that this thesis entitled: ―An English-Vietnamese Translation Quality
Assessment on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald‖, which is submitted in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, is the result
of my own work. I have provided fully documented references to the works of
others. The material in this thesis has not been submitted for any other formal
course of study.

Signature

Date:

i



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This thesis would not have been made possible without the guidance and the
support of individuals who contributed and extended their valuable assistance in the
preparation and completion of this study.

I would like to sincerely express my innermost gratitude to my supervisor, Assoc.
Prof. Dr. Lê Hùng Tiến who inflames fervent passion inside me towards research
topic and research progress. Without his continuously constructive feedback and
overwhelming encouragement, the graduation paper could not come into being.

Besides, I wish to thank my warm-hearted family for their immense tenderness,
deep empathy, inspiration and support to show me throughout upheavals and realize
tremendous ambition. I also wish to thank genuine companions and colleagues
always beside me.

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ABSTRACT
Needless to say, people today can approach innumerable foreign literature works
through their translations; however, the questions regarding the quality of a good
translation still triggers ongoing debates. With the deep concerns about the issue,
the researcher conducts a study entitled: ―A Vietnamese-English translation quality
assessment on the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.‖

This study firstly aims at reviewing different models for translation quality
assessment all over the world and indicating the comprehensive model for assessing
the translation of literary works, which is the model proposed by House (1997).
Secondly, based on the model proposed by House (1997), the study assesses the
translation quality of ―The Great Gatsby‖ – an American masterpiece translated into
a host of different languages including Vietnam.
The major methods adopted throughout the study include both qualitative and
quantitative approaches, which enables the researcher to figure out the similarities
and differences between the source text and the translation. The findings reveal a
number of mismatches in comparison with the source text. On the basis of such
findings, implications for literary translations are drawn out. Hopefully, the study
proves beneficial to translators and researchers who share the same topic interest.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP ........................................................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT .....................................................................................................ii
ABSTRACT..........................................................................................................................iii
LIST OF DIAGRAMS.........................................................................................................vii
PART A: INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................. 1
I. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study..................................................... 1
II. Significance of the study ............................................................................................... 2
III. Research aims and research questions ......................................................................... 2
IV. Scope of the study........................................................................................................ 3
V. Research methodology .................................................................................................. 3
VI. Design of the study ...................................................................................................... 4
PART B: DEVELOPMENT .................................................................................................. 5
CHAPTER 1: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND ............................................................... 5
I. Translation theory ........................................................................................................... 5
1. Concepts of translation .............................................................................................. 5
2. Translation methods and procedures ......................................................................... 6
II. Literary translation ........................................................................................................ 8
1. Definition ................................................................................................................... 8
2. Difficulties in literary translation ............................................................................. 10
III. Translation quality assessment .................................................................................. 12
1. Definition of TQA ................................................................................................... 12
2. Different approaches to TQA .................................................................................. 13
IV. Related studies and literature gaps ............................................................................ 33
CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................... 36
I. Research design ............................................................................................................ 36
1. Case study ................................................................................................................ 36
2. Qualitative and quantitative approach ..................................................................... 38
II. Research questions ...................................................................................................... 39
III. Analytical framework – House’s model (1997) ........................................................ 22
1. Theories underlying House’s model (1997) ............................................................ 22
2. Operation of House’s model (1997) ........................................................................ 24
3. Translation typologies following House’s model (1997) ........................................ 29
4. Advantages and shortcomings of House’s model (1997) ........................................ 31

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IV. Data collection procedures and analysis .................................................................... 39
CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ................................................................. 41
I. The Profile of the Source Text ..................................................................................... 41
1. Field ......................................................................................................................... 41
2. Tenor ........................................................................................................................ 57
3. Mode ........................................................................................................................ 62
4. Genre ........................................................................................................................ 64
II. Statement of function .................................................................................................. 64
III. Comparison of Target Text and Source Text............................................................. 66
1. Covertly erroneous errors ........................................................................................ 66
2. Overtly erroneous errors .......................................................................................... 77
IV. Statement of quality ................................................................................................... 86
PART C: CONCLUSION .................................................................................................... 88
I. Key findings ................................................................................................................. 88
II. Implications ................................................................................................................. 90
REFERENCES .................................................................................................................... 92

v


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ST

Source Text

TT

Target Text

SL

Source Language

TL

Target Language

TQA

Translation Quality Assessment

vi


LIST OF DIAGRAMS
Diagram 1.

House’s model for Translation Quality Assessment (1997)

Diagram 2.

Translation Errors by House’s model (1997)

Diagram 3.

Data collection procedures and analysis

LIST OF TABLES

Table 1.

Some main approaches in The Great Gatsby

Table 2.

Alliteration in The Great Gatsby

Table 3.

Compound words in The Great Gatsby

Table 4.

Loan words in The Great Gatsby

Table 5.

Spoken language in The Great Gatsby

Table 6.

Spoken language in The Great Gatsby

Table 7.

ST Profile

Table 8.

Lexical mismatch in Field dimension

Table 9.

Syntactic mismatch in Field dimension

Table 10.

Textual mismatch in Field dimension

Table 11.

Lexical mismatch in Tenor dimension

Table 12.

Transference of proper names

Table 13, 14, 15.

Creative translations

Table 16.

Overtly erroneous errors

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PART A: INTRODUCTION

I. Statement of the problem and rationale for the study
The massive global integration has witnessed a proliferation of translating as
Munday (2001: 5) accentuates ―Throughout history, written and spoken translations
have played a crucial role in interhuman communication‖. More notably, the 21st
century fosters nations around the world to come together in tremendous vigor to
promote socio-economic development; thus, translators have been entrusted with
the role of bridging the gap between people coming from various cultures.
As a result, a surging number of novels have been translated into different
languages. Among those, ―The Great Gatsby‖, a masterpiece by F. Scott Fitzgerald
first published in 1925, has also been made available for the readership all over the
world. With a unique and original writing style and profound insights into American
values, Fitzgerald has been greatly regarded as one of the most influential
representatives of American literature in the 1920s (Perkins, 2004). His novel ―The
Great Gatsby‖ has gained its recognition since the World War II. It is also widely
known as a literary classic and ranked among the greatest works of American
literature. More strikingly, the Modern Library Editorial Board voted it the 20th
century’s best American novel in 1998.
Following its fame, the novel has also been translated into Vietnamese. In fact,
there are three translated versions of ―The Great Gatsby‖, namely ―Con người hào
hoa‖ by Mặc Đỗ (1956), ―Gatsby vĩ đại‖ by Hoàng Cường (1985), and the recent
―Đại gia Gatsby‖ by Trịnh Lữ (2009). Among these three translated versions, the
translation of Trịnh Lữ (2009) has indeed attracted a myriad of contending reviews
from translators (Đỗ Phước Tiến, 2010).
Moreover, there have been little agreement about how ―good‖, ―satisfactory‖ or
―acceptable‖ of a translation is. The concept of acceptability in translation still
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remains the issue of ongoing debate. National and international translation standards
now exist, but there are no generally accepted objective criteria for assessing the
quality of the translations.
All these aforementioned reasons have motivated the researcher to conduct the
study entitled ―A Vietnamese-English translation quality assessment on the Great
Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.‖

II. Significance of the study
It is of great importance to be able to assess a translation as translation has become
a pivotal part in human civilization. In Vietnam, English is a popular foreign
language, a tool of communication as well as a key to unlock human knowledge.
The demand for knowledge has fostered the development of translation; however, it
seems that many non-professionals and semi-professional translators undertake the
task of translating. This research serves as an useful source for both nonprofessionals and professional translators to improve the quality of other literary
translated works in general. Within the scope of this study, it is hoped to greatly
enhance the translation of the masterpiece ―The Great Gatsby‖. Besides, the study
can be used as guidelines for other researchers to conduct further research with the
application of House’s model (1997) in assessing literary translation and other
different genres.

III. Research aims and research questions
The study firstly aims at providing a theoretical background on some issues relevant
to the topic of the study, which are translation, literary translation and TQA,
particularly a model for TQA proposed by House (1997).
Secondly, based on a model for TQA proposed by House (1997), the study is to
assess the quality of the translation of ―The Great Gatsby‖ – a popular American

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novel translated into a host of different languages including Vietnam.
These aims can be formulated into the following research questions.
1. To what extent does the translation of ―The Great Gatsby‖ achieve the
dimensions of House’s model for TQA?
Addressing the aforementioned issues is hoped to assist English translators in
enhancing their awareness of TQA for literary works and improve their own
translations. The study is also expected to be a beneficial reference to any
Vietnamese readers who fancy romantic novel and are fans of ―The Great Gatsby‖
for a high-quality translation.
IV. Scope of the study
First, the theoretical background of the study limitedly focuses on some
fundamental issues in translation theory of vital importance to the examined issue
including translation, literary translation and particularly TQA.
Second, the study concentrates on the analytical scheme for TQA that is proposed
by House (1997). The analytical scheme proposed by House (1997) are employed to
assess the translation quality of the whole novel ―The Great Gatsby‖ (1993) by F.
Scott Fitzgerald of Wordsworth Editions Publisher and its translation ―Đại gia
Gatsby‖ (2009) by Trịnh Lữ of Nhã Nam Publisher.
V. Research methodology
In order to achieve the aims of the study, case study from both qualitative and
quantitative approach is employed. The researcher conducted the study in the
procedure proposed by Munday (2001):
Phase 1: ST is analyzed in details to produce a profile of the ST register with the
text-specific linguistic correlating to the situational dimensions (syntactic, lexical,
and textual means).
Phase 2: A description of the ST genre realized by the register is added.

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Phase 3: A statement of function of the ST is made, including the ideational and
interpersonal component of that function.
Phase 4: A similar profile and statement of function is made of the TT.
Phase 5: The TT profile is compared to the ST profile based on House’s model
(1997) and a statement of ―mismatches‖ is produced, categorized according to genre
and to the situational dimensions of register and genre.
Phase 6: A statement of quality is made of the translation.
Phase 7: The translation is categorized into either overt translation or covert
translation.
VI. Design of the study
PART A – INTRODUCTION identifies the central problems and main aims of the
study. Research questions, scope, methodology and significance of the study are
also clearly stated in this part.
PART B – DEVELOPMENT comprises three chapters.
Chapter 1 – LITERATURE REVIEW represents fundamental theoretical
background that precedes and necessitates the formation of the research. A brief
overview on several previous studies is also indicated in this chapter.
Chapter 2 – RESEARCH METHODOLOGY covers the sources of data, research
methods and analytical framework to collect and analyze the data to facilitate the
research progress.
Chapter 3 – FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION contains the analysis, presentation
and interpretation of the results.
PART C – CONCLUSION draws important conclusions, yields implications and
proposes recommendations for further research.

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PART B: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
This chapter sheds light on fundamental concepts of translation theories and TQA
approaches by analyzing, synthesizing related-topic works and indicating their
strengths and weaknesses.

I. Translation theory
1. Concepts of translation
The concepts of ―translation‖ have been thoroughly discussed by a number of
researchers in various publications.
From linguistic approach, Catford (1965: 20) indicated that translation means ―the
replacement of textual material in one language by equivalent textual material in
another language‖. However, this notion remains ambiguous concerning the type of
equivalence in which culture had not been taken into account. To a certain extent,
the notion proposed by Catford (1965: 20) shares the same viewpoint with Hartman
and Stork (1972: 713), Newmark (1981), Bell (1991), Landa (2006). They defined
that translation is a procedure of transferring a written text into another language in
the way that the author aimed in the text. Generally speaking, the notion of
translation from linguistic approach shares two main similarities. Firstly, translation
means rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the same way that
the author intended in the ST. Secondly, the translator has an obligation to seek for
the closet equivalent in the TL. Nonetheless, there is no indication that culture is
taken into consideration.
From cultural approach, Nida put strong emphasis on cultural aspect in 1964.
More specifically, translators pay sufficient attention to not only lexical aspect but
also cultural issues. Differences between cultures may even cause more aching
complications for the translators. Since then, Toury (1978) considers translation as
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―a kind of activity which inevitably involves at least two languages and two cultural
traditions‖. Snell-Hornby (1988: 39), Larson (1994) shares the same viewpoint that
that previous studies approaching translation from linguistic aspect ignore
―extralinguistic reality‖ including culture, situation, context and so forth. Therefore,
the latter approach views language as an integral part of culture. All in all, it can be
witnessed that the above-cited definitions, though differed in wording, all agreed on
the nature of translation, denoting it as the accuracy of the written transference of
messages from one language into another and resolving problems relating to
cultural differences.
2. Translation methods and procedures
In ―A textbook of translation‖ (1995), Newmark mentioned eight translation
methods. In word-for-word translation, SL order is preserved; words are translated
by their most common meaning and out of context. The SL grammatical structures
are converted to the nearest equivalent in the TL in literal translation, but words are
still translated singly and out of text. In faithful translation, words are translated in
context but uncompromising to the TL. Semantic translation is more flexible than
faithful translation and greatly focuses on the aesthetic beauty of the SL text.
Communicative translation is freer than semantic translation and gives priority to
the effectiveness of the message to be communicated. Free translation reproduces
the matter without the manner, or the content without the form of the original.
Idiomatic translation reproduces the ―message‖ of the original but tends to distort
nuances of meaning by preferring colloquialisms and idioms where these do not
exist in the original. Adaptation is the ―freest‖ form of translation and used mainly
for the translation of plays (comedies) and poetry.

Newmark (1995) proposes 16 main types of translation procedures. Transference
is the process of transferring an SL word to a TL text. Naturalization adapts the SL
word first to the normal pronunciation, then to the normal morphology of the TL.
Cultural equivalent replaces a cultural word in the SL with a TL one. Functional
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equivalent requires the use of a culture-neutral word. In descriptive equivalent, the
meaning of the ST is explained in several words. Componential analysis means
―comparing an SL word with a TL word which has a similar meaning but is not an
obvious one-to-one equivalent, by demonstrating first their common and then their
differing sense components.‖ Synonymy is a ―near TL equivalent‖. Throughtranslation is the literal translation of common collocations, names of organizations
and components of compounds. Shift or transposition involves a change in the
grammar from SL to TL. Modulation means a change in perspective or thought.
Recognized translation occurs when the translator ―normally uses the official or the
generally accepted translation of any institutional term‖. Compensation occurs
when loss of meaning in one part of a sentence is compensated in another part.
Paraphrase: in this procedure the meaning of the ST is explained. Couplets occur
when the translator combines two different procedures. Footnotes are additional
information in a translation.
3. Translation equivalence
Translation equivalence is undeniably the central issue of translation studies. The
definition, categorization and applicability of equivalence have been discussed,
analyzed, synthesized from different perspectives.
Jakobson (1959) introduced the notion of ―equivalence in difference‖; and on the
basis of his semiotic approach to language, he suggests three categories of
translation: Intralingual (within one language), interlingual (between two
languages), and intersemiotic (between sign systems). In his opinion, there is
ordinarily no full equivalence between code-units because the translator recodes and
transmits the message from another source. Thus, translation involves two
equivalent messages in two different codes.
Nida (1964) approaches the issue from function-based perspective. From Nida’s
viewpoint, equivalence should be dynamic and formal types. Formal equivalence

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focuses on the messages itself in both form and content, and the message in the
receptor language should match as closely as possible the different elements in the
SL. Dynamic equivalence is based on the principle of equivalent effect where the
receptor and message should be substantially the same at that which existed
between the original receptors and the message.
Koller (1979) utilizes meaning-based approach in order to classify equivalence into
five main groups including denotative, connotative, text-normative, pragmatic and
formal equivalence. Denotative equivalence means that both SL and TL words refer
to the same thing in the real world. Connotative equivalence is achieved by the
translator’s choices of words. As for text-normative categorization, both SL and TL
words are used in the similar context in their respective languages. Pragmatic
equivalence focuses on practical situations. Formal equivalence creates an analogy
of form in the translation by their exploiting formal possibilities of TL.
Equivalence can also be approached from form-based perspective proposed by
Baker (1992). Equivalence can appear at word level and above word level when
translating from one language into another. This means that the translator should
pay attention to a number of factors when considering a single word, such as
number, gender and tense (Baker, 1992: 11). Textual equivalence means the
equivalence between the ST and the TT in terms of information and cohesion.
In short, as various scholars have dissimilar methods of classifying equivalence,
there are many categorizations including form-based equivalence, meaning-based
equivalence and function-based equivalence.
II. Literary translation
1. Definition
The definitions of literary translation have been discussed by many scholars Toury
(1993), Venuti (1996), Holmes (1988), Jones (2009), Berman (2000), Pilkington

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(2000), Landers (2001), and Stockwell (2002). Most of literary definitions agree
with the following definition proposed by Bush (1998: 127): ― Literary translation is
the work of literary translator. […] The imaginative, intellectual and intuitive
writing of the translator must not be lost to the disembodied abstraction often
described as ―translation‖. In general, literary texts include all forms of literature
written in prose or poetry. Reiss (1989) also indicated that literary texts belong to
expressive text type in which the authors use the aesthetic dimension of language.
In literary translation, the typical features of the source literary text not only need to
be considered but also are the influential elements.
When it comes to the work of a literary translation, Lamberts (1998: 130) considers
―a published translation is the fruit of substantial creative effort by the translator,
who is the key agent in the subjective activity and social practice of translation‖. He
claims it is the literary translator who decides how to translate and gives the literary
translation its existence no matter what restraints of the network of social and
cultural factors are. To emphasize the challenges of the literary translation, Landers
(2009:9) added: ― literary translation entails an unending skein of choices‖.
In general, definitions of literary translation vary depending on the authors’
emphasis. While writers such as Bush, Lampert and Newmark emphasize the
subjective work of the translators, others focus on the degree of equivalence
between the ST and TT. No matter how different they are in their views of literary
translation, no one can deny that literary is challenging. The next part will discover
prominent difficulties that translators have to cope with literary translation as
―when there is any kind of translation problem, literal translation is normally out of
question‖ (Newmark, 1988:70).

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2. Difficulties in literary translation
2.1 Cultural translation problems
It is apparent that the first challenge of literary translation lies in the differences
between cultures. According to Catford (1965), instance of untranslatability can
arise from two sources: one is culture; the other is linguistics. Nida (1964) also
mentioned that words have meanings only in terms of the total cultural setting.
Seeing eye to eye with other scholars, Newmark (1995) defined the culture as the
way of life and manifestation that are peculiar to a community that uses a peculiar
language as its means of expression. It is widely known that language is an
important aspect of culture. Culture includes and affects language; it is the ground
from which language grows and develops.
According to Cui (2012), challenges pose literary translators can be material
culture, traditional culture, religious culture and historical culture. First, different
nations live in different places and will have different images for the same thing.
For example, Vietnamese culture has ―áo dài, bánh chưng, nhà sàn‖ and so on.
Western culture may have ―pizza, sushi, continental breakfast‖. It would be a huge
challenge to deal with those cultural materials. Second, people live together in one
country or region and will form their own traditions, these traditions will pass from
generation to generation. In other countries or regions, people may not have those
traditions, thus making these traditions untranslatable. For example, in Quan Ho
Bac Ninh folk songs, there are some traditional customs such as ―tục kết chạ, tục
ngủ bọn‖ which exist only in Vietnamese culture. Third, the history of a nation is
the record of social development. Idioms and legends provide ready support in this
respect. An idiom or fixed expression may have no equivalent in the TL. The
expression such as ―Kangaroo Court‖ is an example that is difficult to translate into
Vietnamese.

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Newmark (1988) indicates the use of two translation procedures of two opposite
perspectives. At one end, it is transference popular in literary text characterized by
local color and atmosphere in specialist texts that make it possible for readers to
identify the referent in other texts without difficulty. However, brief and concise as
it is, transference may block comprehension for its emphasis on the culture and
exclusion of the intended message. At the other end, it is componential analysis, the
most accurate translation procedure, which excludes the culture and highlights the
message. In componential analysis, one can add extra contextual distinguishing
components in addition to a component common to the source language and the
target language. Unavoidably, a componential analysis is not as economical and
does not have the pragmatic impact of the original.
In general, in the process of translating literary texts, there are problems in the
translation of cultural words in a literary text due to the cultural gaps between the
SL and the TL. It is not enough for the translator to know what words are used in
the TL. It is even more important for the translator to make the readership
understand the sense as it is understood by the readership of the SL.
2.2 Stylistic translation problems
Style is also a challenging problem of literary translation. Style can be understood
as the way something is written as distinct from its subject matter. In a natural way,
each language has its own problem of style.
For a technical text, for example, style is not a problem in that its informational
content remains from the ST to the TT. Landers (2001: 7) used the metaphor to
illustrate the importance of taking style into consideration in literary translation. ―In
technical translation the order of the cars is inconsequential if all the cargo arrives
intact. In literary translation, however, the order of the cars- which is to say the style
- can make the difference between a lively, highly readable translation and a stilted,

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rigid, and artificial rendering that strips the original of its artistic and aesthetic
essence, even its very soul‖.
According to Landers (2001), ―style‖ in a translator is an ―oxymoron‖. In order to
perform his or her task well, it would be best if the translator strives to have no style
at all and disappears into and become indistinguishable from the style of the SL
author. Preferably, the translator should adapt to the style of each author translated
but always as faithful to the original as circumstance permit.
2.3 Linguistic translation problems
Linguistic translation problems arise due to structural differences between the SL
and the TL. Linguistically, each language has its own metaphysics that determines
the spirit of a nation and its behavioral norms. It rejects the commonly held belief
that all people of different countries have a common logical structure when
processing with language independent of communication. Instead, it emphasizes the
influence of linguistic patterns on the way people perceive the world. Consequently,
the modes of thinking and perceiving in groups utilizing different linguistic systems
will result in basically different worldview. Since words or images may vary
considerably from one group to another, the translator need to pay attention to the
style, language and vocabulary peculiar to the two languages in order to produce an
exact translation of the SL text.
III. Translation quality assessment
1. Definition of TQA
It can be seen that ―the assessment of translator performance is an activity is underresearched and under-discussed despite being widespread‖ (Hatim and Mason
1997:199). For decades, TQA has received much attention in the academic sphere
(House 1997; Nord 1997; Lauscher 2000; Brunette 2000; Colina 2008; William
2009). House (1981:127) assumed that ―What is a good translation?‖ should be

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―one of the most important questions to be asked in connection with translation‖.
Halliday (1994: 14) also shared the same viewpoint that ―it is notorious to say why
or even whether, something is a good translation‖.
Although there have been little agreement about the need for a translation to be
―good‖, ―satisfactory‖ or ―acceptable‖, scholars reach a consensus that TQA is of
great significance all the time. Newmark (1995) and Schiaffino (2005) proposes
some benefits of TQA such as enhancing competence; improving language
proficiency, background knowledge and comprehensive understanding about
translation-related topic; reducing poor quality; increasing customer satisfaction and
creating benchmarking, competitive advantages and so forth.
2. Different approaches to TQA
Approaches to TQA have drawn numerous discussions from scholars. The
comprehensive table below gives an overview on several main and outstanding
TQA approaches.
Functionalist approach

Reiss (1971)
Skopos Theories (1991)
E.Steiner (1998)
Jamal Al-Qinai (2000)
House (1977, 1986, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2015)
Quantitative approach
SEPT (1979)
Sical (1986)
Waddington (2001)
Linguistically
oriented Baker (1992)
approach
Hatim and Mason (1997)
Steiner (1998)
Munday and Hatim (2004)
Teich (2004)
Munday (2008)
House (1977, 1986, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2015)
Behavioristic approach
Nida (1964)
Nida and Taber (1969)

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Argumentation-Centered
approach

Williams (2009)

Comparative approach

Newmark (1995)

Non-comparative
approach

Toury (1978, 1980); Lefevere (1993)

Table 1. Some main approaches in TQA
In fact, mentalist views in TQA came into being long time ago. In mentalist views,
the assessment of a translation is subjective and intuitive. In the researcher’s point
of view, this trend should be dismissed due to its bias, and the translation
assessment depends on each individual position.
2.1 Behaviouristic approach
As opposed to mentalist views, behavioristic views give way for a more scientific
way of translation assessment. This tradition was influenced by American
behaviourism, and it is associated with Nida (1964) and Nida and Taber (1969).
Nida (1964) suggested several behavioural tests to enable translation evaluators to
formulate more ―objective‖ statements about the quality of a translation. The tests
used broad criteria such as ―intelligibility‖ and ―informativeness‖, and they were
based on the belief that a good translation is one leading to equivalence of response,
a criterion linked to Nida’s famous principle of ―dynamic equivalence‖. In the
heyday of behaviourism, several imaginative tests were suggested such as reading
aloud techniques, and various cloze and rating tasks, all of which took observable
responses to a translation as measuring its quality.
Nevertheless, these tests ultimately failed because they were unable to capture
something as intricate and complex as the ―overall quality of a translation‖ (House,
2009). Furthermore, the ST is largely ignored in such texts which implies that

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nothing can be said about the relationship between the original and texts resulting
from different textual operations.

2.2 Quantitative approach
The Canadian Government Translation Bureau’s Quality Measurement System
created a system for TQA known as Sical (1986). However, this system itself
illustrates the limitations of quantitative approach to translation quality. The system
was based on the quantification of errors; and there was a distinction between major
and minor errors. Texts were given quality ratings following the number of major
and minor errors in a 400-word passage: A: superior (0 major errors/maximum of 6
minor); B: fully acceptable (0/12); C: revisable (1/18); and D: unacceptable. The
major error was defined as follows: The translation fails to render the meaning of a
word or passage that contains an essential element of the message; mistranslation
resulting in a contradiction or significant departure from the meaning of an essential
element of the message. The language is incomprehensible, grossly incorrect
language or rudimentary error in an essential element of the message. (Williams
1989: 26).
However, the application of a quantified standard still sparks dissatisfaction among
translators inside and outside the Bureau. Working conditions, deadlines, level of
difficulty of the ST and the ―over-assessment‖ of the TL errors were regularly cited
by the opponents of the system. As a result, the ―official‖ set of quantifiable quality
ratings has been abandoned.
Another model of quantitative approach is Systeme devaluation positive des
traduction named (SEPT). This model was developed for the Translation Bureau by
Daniel Gouadec but never put into practice due to its complexity.
Waddington (2001) explored TQA in his work Different Methods of Evaluating
Translations in which he compared four different methods used at various
universities around the world. These methods are quantitative error analyses.
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Method A includes possible errors divided into three categories. (1) Inappropriate
translation which affects the understanding of the ST such as nonsense, addition,
omission, etc. (2) Inappropriate translation which affects the expression in the TT
such as spelling, grammar, text and style; (3) Inadequate translation which affects
the transmission of either the main function or secondary functions of the ST. In
each category, the difference is made between serious errors (-2 points) and minor
errors (-1 point). The fourth category describes plus points for good (+1 point) and
exceptionally good (+2 points). Method B is based on the work of Kussmaul
(1995: 129) and Waddington (1997). The evaluator has to determine whether each
mistake is language mistake (-1 point) or translation mistake (-2 points). Translation
mistakes affect the transfer of meaning from the ST to the TT. The final mark for
translation is calculated in the similar way with method A. Method C is a holistic
method of assessment. The scale is unitary and treats the translation competence as
a whole. Method D is a combination of error analysis of method B and C in the
proportion of 70/30. In other words, method B accounts for 70% of the total result
and method C accounts for 30%.
However, Waddington’s model (2001) was criticized due to four main reasons.
Firstly, this model is highly academic, and it may not be applied to real cases
outside academic contexts. Secondly, this model ignores translation shifts.
According to Catford (1965), translation shifts are ―departures from formal
correspondence in the process of going from the SL to the TL‖. Regarding textual
equivalence and particular the ST-TT pairs, there sometimes occurs a divergence
between the pairs of languages; thus, translation shifts are inevitable in translation.
Thirdly, the holistic method C is general and vague, causing the high subjectivity
during the translation assessment process. In this method, the assessment depends
on the evaluator, and judgment is different from assessor to assessor. Finally, the
critique falls upon the errors of addition in method A. Klaudy (1996) indicated that
it is essential to add some information to the concepts, even grammatical structures

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