Revision from translators’ point of view: An interview study

Claire Yi-yi Shih
Middlesex University, U.K.

Although generally agreed to be an essential part of translation, revision receives little attention in translation studies with only a few exceptions such as Breedveld (2002) and Englund Dimitrova (2005). This study aims to establish what revision means to practicing translators, and their views as to what revision involves, in terms of the numbers of revisions they do, the length of their drawer-time (how long they put their draft away) and the aspects they check for in revision. Data show that translators typically claim to revise their draft translation once or twice. They do not normally have extended drawer-time. If they do, it would be overnight at most. They also describe themselves as having certain specific aspects in mind when they revise.

Table of contents

Few translators can afford to send their translation away without some form of checking or modifying previously translated target text; in other words, some form of revision. It is even suggested by some scholars that revision can be more time-consuming and plays a more important role for the final translation product, than producing a first draft (Newmark 1983; Weaver 1989: 117). Nevertheless, the issue of ‘translation revision’ has until very recently rarely been looked into in its own right in Translation Studies, apart from in a few handbooks or practical guides for translators (Thaon and Horguelin 1980; Mossop 2001). In fact, there is not even a definite definition of ‘revision’. Some have described revision as a procedure done by a reviser, rather than the translator, in order to safeguard the quality of a translation product before it finally reaches clients (Graham 1983: 103–104). Some see it as part of the assessment procedures that [ p. 296 ]either have pragmatic purposes or didactic purposes (Brunette 2000). According to Brunette (ibid), unlike didactic revisers, pragmatic revisers do not have to contact the translator. In other words, a pragmatic reviser is almost like an editor that edits or amends the final translation product to suit its pragmatic purposes, probably according to clients’ demands and requirements. Didactic revisers, on the other hand, need to justify their changes to the target text and communicate with the translator as to why the target text needs to be changed so that the didactic or pedagogical purposes can be achieved.

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