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The Objectivity of the Two Main Academic Approaches of Translation Quality Assessment: Arab Spring Presidential Speeches as a Case Study

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posted on 24.09.2018, 09:01 authored by Mashael Owaidh Lafi Almutairi
Translation quality assessment (TQA) is a controversial area in Translation Studies. Scholars attribute this to the subjective nature of quality, believed to result from the multiplicity of assessment criteria. However, the literature review reveals that translation scholars attribute different reasons to the decreased level of objectivity in current TQA practices. This study hypothesises that although subjectivity in TQA cannot be eliminated, it can be reduced to a more acceptable level if quality assessment adopts the criteria believed by translation scholars to lend more objectivity to the assessment. The most common approaches used in TQA are either based on error analysis or holistic assessment. As both approaches promise to be objective, this study empirically investigates the differences in the applicability of each with regards to the objectivity criteria proposed by specialists in the field. To this end, four Arab Spring presidential speeches selected for the purpose of this study are assessed by both approaches. Contrastive analysis of these speeches is carried out in order to identify how each approach reduces the subjectivity inherent to TQA. Furthermore, the error analysis model employed in this study is adapted from the theory of textuality proposed by Beaugrande and Dressler in 1981. Given that the seven standards in the original model do not encompass all the elements of the source text language (Arabic), amending the original model is necessary. In examining the applicability of the proposed adapted model as one that aids translators and evaluators with the assessment of Arabic-English translations, this study resulted in introducing new criteria of assessment in the standards of cohesion, coherence and informativity. This study also contributes to the field by empirically examining the differences between the outcome of the application of the two main approaches of translation quality assessment, i.e., error analysis approach and holistic approach; and identifying how each method reduces the level of subjectivity to quality assessment.



Elimam, Ahmed; Louwagie, Fransiska

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School of Modern Languages

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University of Leicester

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