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The Journal of Specialised Translation

Issue 8 - July 2007

people be assigned to other-revise all day long, or should the revision task be interspersed with other activities? A study specifically focused on revision quality as time passes would be of use.

Analysis of the recorded comments made by the translators revealed subjects explicitly saying that they should not make unnecessary changes, even though they were in fact making such changes. Interestingly, however, one subject went back over his changes and explicitly asked himself whether they were necessary. This was the subject who took longest to revise, but also produced the second best final product. There are also examples of subjects trying to think how else something might have been translated without first deciding whether the draft was alright as it was. Another interesting comment: “I’d have to invest more time [on researching this term] or know that the text has been translated by a trustworthy legal translator”. This shows awareness of the need to revise on the basis of who did the translation.

Revision quality An issue that comes up in all the above studies is the quality of the subjects’ revisions. An empirical study concerned solely with describing revision does not need to consider quality, but all of the above studies touch on the practical question of success in revision and must therefore have some way of evaluating the subjects’ efforts. This is not only an issue for those conducting empirical studies; it is of course also an issue in translation practice, since salaried revisers must be evaluated, and employers may want to know how much revisers are contributing to their products.

While Brunette, Krings and Künzli do each provide quantitative evaluations of revision quality, there is also an early study devoted entirely to this question of evaluation (though in a practical rather than scientific context):

5. Arthern, Peter (1983). “Judging the Quality of Revision”, Lebende Sprachen 28(2), 53-57. A somewhat reworked version is also available: Arthern, Peter (1987). “Four Eyes are Better than Two.” Catriona Picken (ed.), Translating and the Computer 8: A Profession on the Move. London: Aslib, The Association for Information Management, 14-26.

In this study, the author looked at work by twelve revisers in the into-English translation service (which he headed) of the former Council of the European Communities, now the Council of the European Union. For each reviser, he checked enough of a month’s output to find 200 interventions or failures to intervene, and


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