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.


Some people believe that translation criticism should focus on the negative aspects of a work. A more modern approach is that criticism should explore positive aspects of the work as well. One of the goals of translation criticism is to raise awareness of the delicacy involved in translation and to explore whether the translator has achieved their goals or not.[1]

The translation professionals and laymen who engage in literary translation inevitably face the issue of translation quality. 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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