The Journal of Specialised Translation
Issue 8 - July 2007
An empirical study in which subjects are given different amounts of time to revise a text by another translator could be valuable. Does the proportion of introduced errors decline? Does failure to make necessary changes increase? Among the changes made, does the proportion which was unnecessary decline?
Unnecessary changes are usually thought of as merely time-wasting rather than quality-reducing. But that is only true when a good translation is replaced by another good translation. Whenever a reviser makes a change, there is always a potential for introducing error and not noticing it. Translation students tend to make vast numbers of changes, and typically manage to reduce quality in doing so. They often say that they wish they had simply left their original draft alone. On tests, where time for making changes is limited, many students do better than on assignments which they have a week to prepare. Readers with Spanish may be interested in the following empirical study of self- and other- revision by students working into L2:
Lorenzo, María Pilar (2002). “Competencia revisora y traducción inverse.” Cadernos de Tradução 10, 133-166. She found that the more time the students spent revising, and the more changes they made, the worse the output.
3. Is there a revising method that produces higher quality? While different approaches to revision have been identified, and correlated to some degree with experience, it would be nice to identify differences between successful and less successful revisers (with success measured by some combination of time taken, percentage of errors corrected, and non-introduction of errors). Is there a correlation between success and familiarity with the subject matter of the text? Does success in self- revision go hand in hand with success in other-revision? Do successful revisers tend to prefer this or that work method?
One might expect that there is no one method that yields the best results (i.e. everything depends on individual psychology), but on the other hand the whole point of empirical studies is to determine whether such expectations are true. For example, some people at workshops report that during comparative revision, they read a sentence or so of the translation first, and then the corresponding bit of source text, while others say they do the opposite. Does one of these produce better results? Or again, some people report that when self-revising, they think they make a change whenever they happen to see a problem, while others think they make certain kinds of change during drafting and other kinds during post- drafting, or certain kinds during a first read-through and other kinds during a second read-through. The latter sounds more organized and efficient, but does it actually produce better results?