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The Journal of Specialised Translation - page 5 / 16





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The Journal of Specialised Translation

Issue 8 - July 2007

Google, but not thinking to use the text itself as an information source. The author opines that even experienced translators and revisers start working at the lexical level at the expense of the textual level when doing technical texts, because they are mesmerized by technical terms.

Time required for revision A vital practical question is how quickly a good revision can be done. The one study relevant to this matter had (yet again) rather discouraging results:

4. Künzli, Alexander (2007). “Translation Revision: a study of the performance of ten professional translators revising a legal text” in Y. Gambier, M. Shlesinger & R. Stolze (eds), Translation Studies: doubts and directions, Amsterdam: Benjamins, 115-126.

This article concerns the same ten translators revising a legal text. Again their spoken comments were recorded as they revised, and then a teacher of legal translation with degrees in both translation and law evaluated their output by comparison to the unrevised translation. If the changes made by the translators are counted (without regard to the types of error, which are not described in the article), and the number of justified changes are compared to the total of changes that were unnecessary + changes that introduced errors + changes that ought to have been made but were not, only 3 of the 10 subjects had more good changes than bad changes or failures to change. And 4 of the 10 ended up with revised versions deemed worse than the draft!

As regards time spent, the two translators who spent the most time turned out the two best revised versions, and these were not merely better than the others but were also deemed acceptable by the evaluator. These two were also among the four who said they were familiar with legal translation. However the next two subjects in terms of time spent turned out two of the worst revised versions— and both were worse than the draft; one of these was among the four familiar with legal translation. In other words, spending a lot of time on revision did not necessarily produce a high quality text.

These results need to be understood in light of the fact that the subjects had two other (non-legal) texts to revise. Those who did the legal text first made the draft translation better, while those who did it last made the draft worse. Thus performance was probably affected by how tired the subjects were, as manifested in some of the recorded comments (“I’m fed up”). The subject who did worst on the legal text, and did it last, was ranked best on one of the other texts. This question of tiredness is certainly of practical interest: should


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