Many of you will be familiar with the way we recruit new translators. Anyone who is interested in applying to become one of our panel translators needs to fill out an application form and do a translation test. When possible, we will ask two of our existing panel translators Images of a checklist showing ticks and crosses(i.e. you) to assess the translation and help us decide whether that person is a good translator and should be added to our panel.

To a certain extent, the assessment process is very similar to a revision (see the article on revision in this issue). Both tasks require you to compare the target and source texts, and make sure that the meaning has been translated correctly. While a reviser makes corrections and suggestions, an assessor only makes comments to mark up errors and explain why they are errors (if you aren’t sure how to use comments, read this page).

To help you with this task, we recently established a new quality assessment system and defined two types of mistakes:

  • Translation errors: these are related to the transfer of meaning. They may be omissions, additions, mistranslations etc. – the rendered meaning is different to the original;
  • Language errors: they relate to the language used in the target text, i.e. spelling mistakes, improper syntax, inadequate language level etc.

There are two severity levels: errors may be either minor or major. For example, the colour of a car in a short description in a novel may not be a major piece of information to the reader – if the car is red in the translation when it is burgundy in the original, it won’t be of great consequence, and would normally be considered minor; however, in a theft report to the police, the colour of the car is an essential element and any mistake in that regard would be major. Another example is punctuation. While it may generally be considered a minor issue, in a sentence like ‘Let’s eat Grandma!’, the lack of a comma determines what will be served for dinner…

Your comments should contain an error code, as well as a note explaining why this should be considered as an error (in English).

 Error type  Translation  Language
 Severity  Major   Minor   Major   Minor 
 Code  MT  mt  ML  ml

For example:

‘A grey, blue-eyed cat jumped into his lap and started puring.’

Comments:

  • his – MT: wrong possessive pronoun. The character is female
  • puring – ML: spelling mistake. This should be written ‘purring’.

Here’s an example of what you should not do:

A grey, blue-eyed cat jumped into his lap and started puring.’

Comments:

  • A grey, blue-eyed cat – The cat was grey and had blue eyes and jumped into her lap.
  • his – her
  • puring – purring

Two general questions round up the assessment process:

  1. What is the intended purpose of the original text? Can the target text be used for that purpose?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 = doesn’t sound natural at all; 5 = well written and sounds as if it had been written by a native speaker of the target language), how natural does the translation sound?

As you can imagine, the assessment process is very important. If we ask you to do one, it means that we trust you to give a fair and informed assessment of a test translation that we can then send back to the applicant, so that he/she may become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. As with a revision, you should only focus on errors, and accept that different translators have different styles.