Criteria for a good translation

Criteria for a good translation

Criteria for a good translation

8 criterias for a good translation

A good translation is one that carries all the ideas of the original as well as its structural and cultural features. Massoud (1988) sets criteria for a good translation as follows:

  1. A good translation is easily understood.
  2. A good translation is fluent and smooth.
  3. A good translation is idiomatic.
  4. A good translation conveys, to some extent, the literary subtleties of the original.
  5. A good translation distinguishes between the metaphorical and the literal.
  6. A good translation reconstructs the cultural/historical context of the original.
  7. A good translation makes explicit what is implicit in abbreviations, and in allusions to sayings, songs, and nursery rhymes.
  8. A good translation will convey, as much as possible, the meaning of the original text (pp. 19-24).
Criteria for a good translation

3 main principles for a good translation.

El Shafey (1985: 93) suggests other criteria for a good translation; these include three main principles as follows:

  1. The knowledge of the grammar of the source language plus the knowledge of vocabulary, as well as good understanding of the text to be translated.
  2. The ability of the translator to reconstitute the given text (source-language text) into the target language.
  3. The translation should capture the style or atmosphere of the original text; it should have all the ease of an original composition.

Eight types of translation

From a different perspective, El Touny (2001) focused on differentiating between different types of translation. He indicated that there are eight types of translation as follows:

  1. word-for-word translation, 
  2. literal translation, 
  3. faithful translation, 
  4. semantic translation, 
  5. adaptive translation, 
  6. free translation, 
  7. idiomatic translation, and 
  8. communicative translation. 

He advocated the last type as the one which transmits the meaning from the context, respecting the form and structure of the original and which is easily comprehensible by the readers of the target language.

Other opinions about a good translation

El Zeini (1994) didn’t seem satisfied with such criteria for assessing the quality of translation. Hence she suggested a pragmatic and stylistic model for evaluating quality in translation. She explains that the model “places equal emphasis on the pragmatic component as well on the stylistic component in translation. 

This model covers a set of criteria, which are divided into two main categories: content-related criteria and form-related criteria” and expected that by following these criteria, “translators will be able to minimize the chance of producing errors or losses, as well as eliminate problems of unacceptability” .