Towards a Model of Translation Proficiency

Deborah Cao

Abstract

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.

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