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Thr difficulty of translating from one language to another

Difficulties in the Transfer of Information between Languages

Subscriptions for the hardcopy version are free to researchers with addresses in the UK. Apply to SRU subscriptions at the address above, or email sru soc. After finishing her DPhil on Greek higher education, she worked as a research officer for 18 months. Her research interests include issues involved in the socialization of academics and institutional differentiation, and the training of researchers.

Collecting data in one language and presenting the findings in another involves researchers taking translation-related decisions that have a direct impact on the validity of the research and its report.

  1. Comparability of grammatical forms A different kind of translation problem occurs when sentences in the language of data collection involve grammatical and syntactical structures that do not exist in English. Techniques for dealing with translation-related problems Important techniques for eliminating translation-related problems include back translation, consultation and collaboration with other people during the translation process and pre-testing or piloting for example, interviews whenever this is possible.
  2. Comparability of grammatical forms A different kind of translation problem occurs when sentences in the language of data collection involve grammatical and syntactical structures that do not exist in English. After finishing her DPhil on Greek higher education, she worked as a research officer for 18 months.
  3. Regarding the mention in the original question of technology as assistance in translation, it is effective in translating individual words and phrases, but many students have found themselves in trouble when they attempt the translation of entire passages.

Factors which affect the quality of translation in social research include: There is a need for social researchers who have to translate data from one language to another to be explicit in describing their choices and decisions, translation procedures and the resources used. Once practised almost exclusively by anthropologists, collecting data in one language and presenting the findings in another is now increasingly common among social researchers. As student and staff mobility increases, a considerable number of theses, dissertations and funded-research projects concern studies which involve moving between languages, sometimes even from the very first steps of the research endeavour.

As the need for mutual understanding on an international scale increases, more and more organisations and individuals are seeking comparable information across national and cultural boundaries using research instruments prepared in one language and culture for use in others. Moving between languages can take different forms. For example taking English as the language in which the research is to be reported: In cases of international assessments or cross-cultural research test items, questionnaires or interview schedules are translated from English into the language of different countries and vice versa.

Although not all studies which involve different languages are equally dependent on the precision of linguistic data for instance, in studies that are predominantly observationalresearchers need to be aware that the translation process usually requires both time and effort on their part and can present various types of problems, some of which may not be completely overcome Phillips, ; Lewin, ; Broadfoot and Osborn, ; Ercikan, More importantly, however, researchers need to keep in mind that translation-related decisions have a direct impact on the validity of the research and its report.

Factors influencing the quality of translation The quality of translation depends on a number of factors, some of which, as Phillips In those cases where the researcher and the translator are the same person the quality of translation is influenced by factors such as: When the researcher and the translator are not the same person, the quality of translation is influenced mainly by three factors: Different dimensions of potential translation-related problems Gaining conceptual equivalence One of the major difficulties of any kind of research in which the language of the people under study is different from that of the write-up is gaining conceptual equivalence or comparability of meaning Deutscher, ; Whyte and Braun, ; Sechrest et al.

For many researchers Sechrest et al. Only then can the researcher pick up the thr difficulty of translating from one language to another implications that a term carries for the people under study and make sure that the cultural connotations of a word are made explicit to the readers of the research report.

Comparability of grammatical forms A different kind of translation problem occurs when sentences in the language of data collection involve grammatical and syntactical structures that do not exist thr difficulty of translating from one language to another English.

Syntactical style, as Ercikan Where sentences are resistant to translation because of incompatibility between languages in terms of the structure, Bassnett-McGuire However, such a process, as Ervin and Bower Although obtaining grammatical and syntactical equivalence is not something that can be taken lightly, it does appear that the more important aim of researchers-translators should be to achieve conceptual equivalence.

Decisions about translating quotations are of course dependent on the intended function of the quotation in the research text and whether one perceives translated words as a direct quotation Rossman and Rallis, A literal translation i. In translated quotations the risk of losing information from the original is greater. The use of translators or interpreters In some studies, the researcher and the translator or interpreter are not the same person and there might even be more than one translator involved in a research project.

These people might be professional translators, bilingual people with knowledge of the topic under investigation or notor native speakers employed to help the researcher communicate with respondents who do not speak English.

The difficulty of translation from one language to another

Focusing on the latter, Temple Techniques for dealing with translation-related problems Important techniques for eliminating translation-related problems include back translation, consultation and collaboration with other people during the translation process and pre-testing or piloting for example, interviews whenever this is possible.

Although it can be helpful, as Deutscher Back translation can also be a very time-consuming procedure, and might require more than one person or a dictionary involved in order to achieve good results.

Consultation with other people, on thr difficulty of translating from one language to another other hand, involves discussions about the use and meaning of words identified as problematic with people who are bilingual Whyte and Braun, ; Brislin et al.

Collaboration with other people can also take the form of researchers from all countries involved in a study, jointly producing the research design and instrument. Whether interviews or questionnaires or any kind of test are to be used, another way of eliminating translation-related problems is to pre-test or pilot the research instrument in the local culture. When pretesting a research instrument, Warwick and Osherson Once a questionnaire or assessment instrument has been constructed, another way of identifying problems is the application of statistical methods Hambleton, ; Ercikan, For many researchers, combining some or all of the above-mentioned techniques is seen as the best and most efficient way to deal with translation-related problems.

When using multiple methods, as Brislin et al. The need to make translation-related decisions explicit As is common to all scientific enquiry, reports of research which involves the use of more than one language need to include a thorough description of the translation-related issues, problems and decisions involved in the different stages of the research process Temple, In addition, researchers need to describe the circumstances within which translation took place and discuss the techniques they used during the translation process.

Similarly, if the research involved the use of translators, readers need to be informed about who those people were and what kind of role they played at all stages of the research endeavour. Conclusion When collecting data in one language and presenting the findings in another, researchers have to make a number of translation-related decisions. Gardner Press Brislin, R. Primary School Teachers in England and France. Some Problems of Linguistic Comparability.

Weiss eds Institutions and the Person. Papers presented to Everett C. Aldine Publishing Company Ercikan, K.

Public Opinion Quarterly, 16, Frey, F. Turner eds The methodology of comparative research. The Free Press Hambleton, R. Functionalist Approaches and Translation Quality Assessment. The Falmer Press May, T. Issues, Methods and Process. Open University Press Moses, I. Holy edComparative Anthropology. Basil Blackwell Phillips, H. Preiss eds Human Organisation Research: Field Relations and Techniques.

  • In East Africa and some parts of Asia the passive is used only to attribute negative feelings or a sense of unpleasantness to the information conveyed;
  • Weiss, eds Institutions and the Person;
  • Osherson eds Comparative Research Methods:

An Introduction to Qualitative Research. The Art of Hearing Data. Sociology, 31 3Vulliamy, G. The Falmer Press Warwick, D. Osherson eds Comparative Research Methods: Weiss, eds Institutions and the Person. Aldine Publishing Company Wolcott, H. Description, Analysis, and Interpretation. Sage Department of Sociology.