Juliane House’s model on translation quality assessment is one of the most recent and applicable ones as she has considered almost all kinds of texts and translational theories in her study. She divided theories toward meaning into three categories, namely, mentalist view, response-based view and discourse and text-based view (House, 1976). She stated that her view is a part of discourse-based view.
According to Juliane House (1997), the essence of translation lies in the preservation of “meaning” across two languages. There are three aspects to this “meaning”: semantic, pragmatic and textual such that translation may be defined as the replacement of a text in the source language by a semantically and pragmatically equivalent text in the target language. (Here, the scholar is just concerned with written texts, as translation of oral texts is defined as interpretation).The ultimate goal for her is functional equivalence. To get the functional equivalence, situational dimensions and linguistic materials are defined. She concluded that in translation assessment, the critic have to find two kinds of mismatches between the two texts. One of these mismatches is overtly erroneous error and the other one is covertly erroneous error. Based on these factors, she introduced two kinds of translation: Overt vs. Covert Translations.
Overt translation, according to House, is the one in which TT addressees are not directly addressed. It is tied to source language and culture and should be remained as intact as possible. It is a straightforward translation and has got less cultural problems than the covert one. Overt translations are divided into two types: Overt Historically-linked and Overt Timeless translations (House, 1976).
Overt translation is a translation of the target text which is not meant to be the same as the source text. In spite of that, the target text still refers to the source text so that its equivalences must be sought at the level of language/text, register, and genre. As indicated by the name, overt translation itself claims that the result is “translation”, not the real work. A translation is categorized as “overt” if the result reads like a translation.
On the contrary, covert translation is “a translation which enjoys the status of being an original source text in the target culture” (Munday, 2001). A covert translation reads like an original text, not like a product of translation. Modifications are made to make it acceptable by the target culture. This kind of translation is directly addressed to a TL culture audience. Covert translation needs cultural filter. These two kinds of translations cover almost every kind of texts. Overt translation includes political, literary, religious, etc texts; on the other hand covert translation consists of business circulars, scientific texts, journalistic texts, advertisements, information booklets, etc.
The Housian TQA Model uses a socio-semiotic approach for translation quality assessment. This assessment is based on the similarity between the source text and the target text in terms of the register variables, the genre, and the ideational and interpersonal meaning.
Review of the Literature
Evaluating the quality of a translated work has been one of the main concerns of the Translation Studies. Despite the drastic progress in and evolution of Translation Studies, developing/establishing a good set of criteria, in order to solve the various problems regarding the quality of translation has not yet been achieved or at least there is no or little consensus about this issue.
There have been many attempts to build a model for evaluating the quality of a translated work. Translation quality assessment studies, according to House, can be divided into three major categories: 1) there are pre-linguistic studies, in which subjective and not-so-much clear statements, regarding the quality of a translated work, are the major trend, e.g. Savory’s list of principles for a translation of optimal value. 2) There are psycholinguistic studies. In these studies translation quality is judged in terms of the effect a translation should have on the readership, e.g. Nida and Taber. 3) There are source-text based studies which attempt to build linguistic criteria in order to account for both the source text and the target text.
There are also pragmatic models presented by Koller (1974) and Reiss (1968, 1971a, b, 1973). Malcolm Williams divides Translation Quality Assessment Models into two main types: (1) models with a quantitative dimension, such as SEPT (1979) and Sical (1986), and (2) non-quantitative, textological models, such as Nord (1991) and House (1997).
House has developed a comprehensive linguistic model of translation quality assessment, which includes eight situational-contextual dimensions based on Crystal and Davy’s system (1969), in addition to linguistic correlates; as it has been elaborated on in the previous sections.
Sara Viola Rodriguez (1996) has “tested House’s model on ideational and interpersonal English source-texts translated into Portuguese from a wide range of provinces.” She, also, “selected “The Me Decade and the Third Great awakening”, one of the essays in Tom Wolf’s “The Purple Decades”, published in the United States in 1982, as the ST. As far as the TT is concerned, she chose Luiz Fernando Brandao’s version, published by LPM, Brazil, in 1989.” to verify the “practical value of House’s translation typology.”
Juliane House in “Translation Quality Assessment, A Model Revisited” (chapter 5), compares some source and translated texts (a children’s book, an autobiography, a philosophical essay, and a history text) by using her revised model.
Harris Hermansyah Setiajid (2003) tried to “look into two models of the socio-semiotic approach, an approach inspired by Halliday’s Systemic-Functional linguistics, which emphasizes the importance of context, both context of situation and context of culture, in reconstructing the meaning of a text”. These two models are Juliane House’s and Roger T. Bell’s models. The purpose of Harris’s research is to find the similarities and the differences between the two. It turns out that House’s model utilizes register variables, i.e. field, tenor, and mode, for translation quality assessment, while Bell’s model exploits three language meta-functions, i.e. the ideational, interpersonal, and textual, in translation.
The House’s model is commonly applied in translation quality assessment by doing the following chronological steps:
(a) Doing a register analysis to get the source text profile;
(b) Describing source text genre realized in register;
(c) Giving a statement of function to the source text related with ideational and interpersonal meaning;
(d) Treating the target text in the same way as the source text was treated above;
(e) Comparing the two text profiles to produce a statement of “inequivalence” which is categorized according to the genre and the situational dimension of the genre and register. The errors found are categorized into “covertly erroneous errors” and “overtly erroneous errors”;
(f) Providing a statement of quality with reference to the translation result; and
(g) Categorizing the translation result into two kinds: overt translation and covert translation.
As the original text is a literary work, according to House, it has to have an overt kind of translation.
For doing the analysis, two kinds of errors, namely overtly erroneous errors and covertly erroneous errors, should be looked for. The former is divided into five subcategories:
1. Wrong translations: This consists of those mistakes which comprise complete distortion of meaning.
2. Not translated: This comprises those words/expressions which are not translated either because of translator’s negligence or not being able to translate.
3. Deficiencies in translation: This means that there exists a little distortion of meaning, partial transference of meaning or not complete faithfulness to ST but not so severe.
4. Creative translations: Here, the translator has translated the ST somehow freely by adding some extra words/information or so which were not necessary.
5. Breach of TL system: This means deviating the TL norms and/or syntax.
And the latter, as mentioned by House, is done by making an ST profile and comparing it with its TT counterpart.
Some examples, about 10% for each subcategory, of overtly erroneous errors along with their analyses and ST and TT profiles are provided. This is done by transcription of the underlined parts, which show the problematic parts, and then the word for word translations are provided and compared with the translation to show the deficiencies or problems of them. After that, the frequencies of the occurrences of each of those problems by the Persian translator were counted. Finally, Chi-Square was run to compute the results of the data.
Results and Discussion
General and Popular
Author’s provenance and stance
Social role relationship
General and popular
Translator’s provenance and stance
Social role relationship
Literary critic and translator
The only mismatch found here is the one between the author’s provenance and stance in comparison to the translator’s ones.
Wrong Translation Examples:
A car came along.
اتوبوسی سر رسید.
/Otobu:si sær resid/
A bus came along ≠ A car came along
I’ve been lying there for an hour.
یک ساعت است من بیدارم.
/Jek sa:æt æst mæn bida:ræm/
For an hour is I am awake
I’m awake for an hour ≠ I have been lying there for an hour.
Not Translated Examples:
Is that what you thought.
*It should be translated as: .اینطوری فکر میکردی
“I just know Dilsey will let something happen to Quentin while I’m gone.”
*It should be translated as: .وقتی نیستم
Deficiencies in Translation examples:
so you kin ride to town wid Jason.
تا جیسن با ماشین ببردت شهر.
/Ta: Jason ba: ma:ʃin bebærædet ʃæhr/
So that Jason with car ride you to the town
So that Jason ride you to the town ≠ so you kin ride to town wid Jason.
“What are you going to do?”
«داری چه کار میکنی؟»
Da:ri tʃeka:r mikoni
You what doing
What are you doing ≠ What are you going to do
“You damn old nigger,”
«گمشو عجوزه زنگی.»
/gomʃo: ædʒu:zeh zængi/
Get lost old nigger
Get lost old nigger ≠ You damn old nigger
*It should be translated as: عجوزه زنگی لعنتی
Breach of TL System:
This kind of error was not found in the analyzed parts of the source text along with its translation and it may indicate that the translator has a good knowledge about TL syntax.
This part is mainly concerned with presenting the results of the statistical analyses of the data.
Having analyzed and evaluated the ST along with the TT based on Juliane House’s TQA Model, the results obtained are reviewed and tabulated as follows:
Overtly Erroneous Errors
Covertly Erroneous Errors
Figure 4.2.1 NPar Tests, Chi-Square Tests, and Frequencies
Monte Carlo Sig.
Sig. 99% Confidence Lower Bound
Interval Upper Bound
a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 46.5.
b. Based on 10000 sampled tables with starting seed 2000000.
Figure 4.2.2 Frequencies of two kinds of errors.
The results of Chi-Square shows the statistically significant difference between two kinds of errors mentioned by House, i.e. overtly erroneous error and covertly erroneous error.
Categories of OEEs
Deficiencies in Translation
Figure 4.2.3 NPar Tests, Chi-Square Tests, and Frequencies
Categories of OEEs
Monte Carlo Sig.
Sig. 99% Confidence Lower Bound
Interval Upper Bound
a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected frequencies less than 5. The minimum expected cell frequency is 23.0.
b. Based on 10000 sampled tables with starting seed 926214481.
Figure 4.2.4 Frequencies of overtly erroneous errors sub-divisions
The results of Chi-Square shows the statistically significant difference between the four sub-categories of overtly erroneous errors, i.e. wrong translation, not translated, deficiencies in translation and creative translation.
To summarize the study, at the beginning of study the House’s translation quality assessment model was explained in details. The origin of House’s model and her types of translation errors and cultural filters were defined. The importance of function and equivalence was highlighted in the introduction. Finally, the overt vs. covert category was chosen as a means for measuring the quality of Persian translation of the English book.
In the method part, it was mentioned that since, the translated book is a literary work; it must be translated overtly due to the fact that literary works are classified under the overt translation of House’s translation quality assessment model. Then, some sentences and their Persian translations were selected. In fact, these sentences include the language – related or culture – related elements of the source text which was English. Considering factors like, Situational dimensions and function are important.
After the translation of the translator, the writer of this study provided the readers with a kind of possible overt translation of a sentence. In this sentence, the errors in the translator’s version was connected and underlined. Therefore, all situations in which the translator did not translate overtly were indicated and underlined. These problematic sentences were selected based on the House’s translation quality assessment. Then, the parallel Persian translations of these sentences were chosen and the transcription of the translation is provided and compared with the original ST to show the differences. Finally, they were evaluated and it was proven that House’s model can be helpful in translation quality assessment realm.
One of the most crucial problems in the translation is evaluation or assessment. Scholars viewed assessment differently. One of the effective models of quality assessment of translation is Juliane House’s model. This model introduces two main types of translations, namely overt and covert translations. In this study the House’s model was used to indicate the situations in which the translator of “The Sound and the Fury” wrongly translated some parts of the deemed sentences. The possible method for this work’s translation, according to House, must be overt kind of translation. However, in these sentences, the translator rendered some parts of sentences wrongly. Due to this fact, these problematic sentences were selected from the book “The Sound and the Fury”.
Finally, in this research it was proven by evidence and examples that House’s translation quality assessment can be useful, suitable and adequate for assessing at least literary works or maybe any kind of translation.
The interesting and instructive category of overt vs. covert translation has a scientific way in assessing different types of translation. The scholars of translation can use these two types of translation to evaluate the quality of various kinds of translation.
With all the above mentioned statements in mind and attempting to make the process of translation quality assessment as objective as possible, House argues that the model enables the evaluator to make the analyses and interpretations transparent, explicit and non-subjective, but only to a certain point, the analyses contains necessarily a hermeneutic and subjective component.
House, J. (1977). A model for translation quality assessment. Meta, 22, 103-109
House, J. (2001). Translation quality assessment: linguistic description versus social evaluation. Meta, 46, 243-257
Rodrigues, S, V. (1996). Translation quality: A Housian analysis. Meta, 41, 223-227
Setiajid, H, H (2006). Socio-semiotic approach in translation: Two Models Revisited. Retrieved from: www.usd.ac.id/06/publ_dosen/phenomena/Feb06/Harris.pdf
Williams, M (2001). The application of argumentation theory to translation quality assessment. Meta, 46,326-343
House, J. (1997). Translation quality assessment: A model revisited. Gunter Narr Verlag: Tübingen.
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