Towards a Model of Translation Proficiency

Deborah Cao

This paper introduces the concept of translation proficiency and examines its nature. It then presents a tentative framework for dealing with translation proficiency in which areas of translation competence are identified, described and justified. The discussion integrates paradigms in translation studies and language testing, arguing that it is translation proficiency that should be tested and that translation testing should be incorporated as an integral part of the study of translation.

Table of contents

One of the reasons for lack of research in translation testing could be that translation has long been viewed predominantly as an art form that mainly involves intuition and a salient talent, rather than as a skilled learning discipline. As a result it was assumed that this skill cannot be adequately evaluated (Gile 1991: 162). With translator training gaining prominence, testing has naturally been incorporated as an integral component of the educational environment. It was then assumed that translators, translation educators, or even foreign language teachers would be able to set proper tests to assess translation skills. However, a comparable assumption—namely, that language teachers could automatically set good language tests—has proved untenable. It is therefore clear that translation testing deserves closer examination.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.


Bachman, Lyle F.
1991Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. New York: Oxford University Press. ( 11990)Google Scholar
[ p. 340 ]
Bachman, Lyle F. and Adrian S. Palmer
1992Language Testing in Practice. [ms.]Google Scholar
Chomsky, Noam
1965Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Clark, John L.D.
1975 “Theoretical and Technical Considerations in Oral Proficiency Testing”. Randall L. Jones and Bernard Spolsky, eds. Testing Language Proficiency. Arlington, Va.: Center for Applied Linguistics 1975 10–24.Google Scholar
Delisle, Jean
1988Translation: An Interpretive Approach, tr. Patricia Logan and Monica Creery. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.Google Scholar
Gile, Daniel
1991 “Methodological Aspects of Interpretation (and Translation) Research”. Target 3:2. 151–174.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ingram, David E.
1985 “Assessing Proficiency: An Overview of Some Aspects of Testing”. Kenneth Hyltenstam and Manfred Pienemann, eds. Modelling and Assessing Second Language Acquisition. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters 1985 215–276.Google Scholar
Lörscher, Wolfgang
1991Translation Performance, Translation Process, and Translation Strategies: A Psycholinguistic Investigation. Tübingen: Narr.Google Scholar
Neubert, Albrecht and Gregory M. Shreve
1992Translation as Text. Kent, Ohio and London: Kent State University Press.Google Scholar
Rose, Marilyn Gaddis
ed. 1987Translation Excellence: Assessment, Achievement, Maintenance. Binghamton: State University of New York Press.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Schäffner, Christina
1991 “World Knowledge in the Process of Translation”. Target 3:1. 1–16.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Séguinot, Candace
1989 “Preface”. Candace Séguinot, ed. The Translation Process. Toronto: H.G. Publications 1989 iii–iv.Google Scholar
Seleskovitch, Danica
1988 “Technical and Literary Translation: A Unifying View”. ITI Conference 2: Translators and Interpreters Means Business 1988 83–88.Google Scholar
Snell-Hornby, Mary
1988Translation Studies: An Integrated Approach. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1992 “The Professional Translator of Tomorrow: Language Specialist or All-Round Expert?Cay Dollerup and Anne Loddegaard, eds. Teaching Translation and Interpreting: Training, Talent and Experience: Papers from the First Language International Conference, Elsinore, Denmark, 31 May - 2 June 1991. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1992 9–22.   DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stevenson, Douglas K.
1985 “In Other Words: Language Testers and Translation Tests”. Christopher Titford and A.E. Hieke, eds. Translation in Foreign Language Teaching and Testing. Tübingen: Narr 1985 137–153.Google Scholar
Straight, H. Stephen
1981 “Knowledge, Purpose, and Intuition: Three Dimensions in the Evaluation of Translation”. Marilyn Gaddis Rose, ed. Translation Spectrum: Essays in Theory and Practice. Albani: State University of New York Press 1981 41–51.Google Scholar
Toury, Gideon
1986 “Natural Translation and the Making of a Native Translator”. TEXTconTEXT 1. 11–29.Google Scholar
1986a “Monitoring Discourse Transfer: A Test-Case for a Developmental Model of Translation”. Juliane House and Shoshana Blum-Kulka, eds. Interlingual and Intercultural Communication: Discourse and Cognition in Translation and Second Language Acquisition Studies. Tübingen: Narr 1986 79–94.Google Scholar
Vermeer, Hans J.
1986 “Übersetzen und kultureller Transfer”. Mary Snell-Hornby, ed. Übersetzungswissenschaft—Eine Neuorientierung: Zur Integrierung von Theorie und Praxis. Tübingen: Francke 1986 30–53.Google Scholar