Thursday, March 08, 2007

CTTIC error criteria

In July 2006, I wrote about professional exam preparatory courses provided by ATIO and the interesting experience as a tutor that I have had over the last several years. Today, I want to share with my readers the criteria that are used to correct the course translations. They are of two kinds: comprehension and language:

Translation errors (Comprehension)

(T) Major errors - serious mistranslation denoting a definite lack of comprehen-
sion of the source language, nonsense, omission of a phrase or more.

T Minor errors - mistranslation of a single word, omission/addition affecting
meaning, lack of precision, wrong shade of meaning.

Language errors (Errors of expression)

(L) Major errors - gibberish, unacceptable structure.

L Minor errors - syntax, grammar error, ambiguity, convoluted structure,

unidiomatic structure, unacceptable loan translation.

l Minor errors - breach of spelling, punctuation or typographical conventions.

The first denotes the knowledge of the transfer mechanisms that are at play. A candidate deficient in this area would probably not have the target language as his mother tongue. He would also not have a very good grounding in recognizing the importance of the various elements of a sentence. He would thus omit or conceal certain elements, thinking that they are not important. My earlier post about Natural Canadian Spring Water is such an example where spring was translated as the springtime instead of small river.

Deficiencies in the second one usually denote lack of knowledge of the language proper. Errors in the use of the idiom, the syntax, the way sentences are built, the importance of signs such as accents and punctuation. Thus, in the post on Cultural interference, the Yield to Bus sign using the word Cédez, instead of Donnez la priorité or Priorité. Véhicule prioritaire would have been another way of expressing this.

This way of analyzing a translation is part and parcel of the method used in university translation courses so it should not be foreign to the aspiring candidate. A linguist who cannot tell the difference in these areas would not make a good translator.

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