Translation criticism

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Translation criticism is the systematic study, evaluation, and interpretation of different aspects of translated works.[1] It is an interdisciplinary academic field closely related to literary criticism and translation theory.


A comprehensive view toward translation has long been ignored in many aspects. Some people state that translation criticism works on the negative aspects of the work; they say criticism is finding the present deficiencies. A more modern approach opposes this view and believes that criticism should care about the positive aspects of the work as well. One of the goals involved in translation criticism is to make the society aware of the delicacy involved in translation, to make sure whether the translator has achieved his goals or not.[1]

The translation professionals and laymen who engage in literary translation inevitably face the issue of the quality of translation. Translation criticism has several open issues, such as the name for the practice of evaluating translations, and the criteria for evaluation, each of which merits a detailed study.[2]

A literary text may be explored as a translation, not primarily to judge it, but to understand where the text stands in relation to its original by examining the interpretative potential that results from the translational choices that have been made. When comparing different translations from a same original text, the results of the analyses should be used to construct a hypothesis about each translation: criteria such as "divergent similarity", "relative divergence", "radical divergence" and "adaptation" are important for such an analysis.[3]

A very influential author in the field was Antoine Berman, who claimed that there may be many different methods for translation criticism as there are many translation theories; therefore he entitled a model of his own as an analytical path, which can be modulated according to the specific objectives of each analyst and adapted to all standardized text types. He further insists that every translator shall develop first a translation project, prior to the translation process itself.[4]

See also[edit]


  • Berman, Antoine, Pour une critique des traductions: John Donne. Paris: Gallimard, 1995. Translated into English by Françoise Massardier-Kenney as Toward a Translation Criticism: John Donne. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2009.
  • García Yebra, Valentín, En torno a la traducción. Madrid, Gredos, 1983.[5]
  • Newmark, Peter, A Textbook of Translation. Chapter 17: "Translation Criticism". Prentice-Hall International, 1988. ISBN 978-0139125935
  • Reiss, Katharina, Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Übersetzungskritik: Kategorien und Kriteren für eine sachgerechte Beurteilung von Übersetzungen. Munich, Hueber, 1971. Translated into English by Erroll. F. Rhodes as Translation Criticism: The Potentials and Limitations. Categories and Criteria for Translation Quality Assessment. St. Jerome Publishing Ltd, 2000.[6]


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