Translation Quality Assessment Based on House’s Model: English Translations of Iran’s Supreme Leader Letters to European Youth

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 MA. In Translation Studies, Imam Reza university, Mashhad, Iran

2 Faculty Member of Imam Reza University, Mashhad, Iran

Abstract

This study aimed to assess the quality of English translations of Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A.) letters addressing the youth in the West based on House’s revised (1997) model of translation quality assessment. Such texts are considered political and/ or religious, and their translations require meticulous quality assessment. Yet, rarely did the researchers find any study addressing this important area of translation. Therefore, the current study, which employed a qualitative type of research, focused on the translation of such type of texts. The assessment revealed dimensional mismatches between the original and the translated versions in the areas of field, tenor, and mode. The findings of the current study can help improve the quality of the translation of the speech.

Keywords

Introduction

Translation quality assessment (TQA) is a fundamental element of some translation theories. The House’s TQA model (1997) and Hallidayan systemic- functional theory, were inspired with Prague school ideas, speech act theory, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and corpus-based differences between spoken and written language. The model involves three different aspects of the analysis of the source text (ST) and assessing the quality of its translation: language/ text, register (field, tenor, and mode), and Genre (House, 2001).

     The field involves the subject matter and social action. Tenor refers to a social attitude (formal or informal style) between the author and the audiences. Mode describes the ‘channel’ (spoken/written), and the amount of participation between the addressee and addresser (monologue, dialogue, etc.) (Munday, 2016).  Moreover, genre allows one to refer each textual exemplar to the type of texts with which it shares a general purpose (House, 2001).

     According to Halliday (1994), there are three types of meanings: textual, ideational, and interpersonal meanings. Ideational meanings conform to the field and explain the participants, processes, and circumstances. Interpersonal meanings represent the tenor and indicate ways to communicate with others. Also, textual meanings signify the mode and refer to cohesion analysis (as cited in De Oliveira, 2015).

     Many scholars such as Venuti (1995/ 2008), Newmark (1981), Nida (1969), House (1997), and Nord (1997) believe that the general feature of translation is literal (word-for-word) or free (sense-for-sense) (Munday, 2001). House suggests that ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ translations are based on the mentioned features. Overt translation reflects the elements of the translated text clearly, and is faithful to the ST. Contrary to overt translation, covert translation enjoys the status of ST in the target culture, and makes the information which is implicit in the ST explicit in the target language (TL) (House, 1997). Other scholars emphasize ‘faithfulness’ to the original text and maintenance of the spirit of ST by presenting a word-for-word translation. For example, Benjamin (1969/ 2004) states that a foreign text should ‘shine’ through the translation, and ‘pure language’ should be demonstrated following direct interaction between the two languages (as cited in Medadian & Nezhadansari, 2015).

     As House (1997) states, any mismatch between the ST and the TT is considered an error. Therefore, mismatches are divided into two categories: ‘covertly erroneous errors’ (any dimensional mismatch, e.g. neglecting the features such as field, mode, and tenor during translating), and ‘overtly erroneous errors’ (the mismatches of denotative meanings of ST and TT and breaches of target language scheme).   

     In this study, the researchers used House’s (1997) model to analyze the quality of English translations of Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters to the youth in the Western countries. Supreme leader’s letters to European and North American youths is the Islamic Revolution’s new approach to international cultural diplomacy. The Supreme leader’s letter message, in summary, equivocates the principles that deal with images of Islam represented in the West by European and American media.  Addressing the youth, the Supreme Leader asserts that he trusts them and considers them having altruistic and justice-seeking spirit. This letter represents the manner of fighting and resisting Islamophobia, which can be a religious imperative for all the muslims across the world. (www.echoofislam.com).That is why Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters to the youth in Western countries is highly important. Due to the importance of the mentioned letters in terms of the content, they have been translated into 50 languages, including English (Khamenei. ir). Considering that Islam deserves to be known the way it is, any effort such as texts made with this aim is noteworthy. It is not known whether these translations are qualified enough for transferring the original message, so assessing the quality of these translations can be done by TQA.

     Although political and religious discourses, such as Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters to the youth in the Western countries, are of more importance and sensitivity than other kinds of discourses, the translation of these types of texts must also be taken into account.

     The first significant aspect of this research is that the researchers observed almost no case of translation quality assessment of Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A.) political and religious speech. Some religious-political discourses promote ethical and moral values. These discourses convey the key concepts to the readers with a sense of compassion, such as awareness about tragic events, avoiding violence, movement awaking, and so on. The major problem is whether this kind of feeling, along with the mentioned concepts, exactly affects the readers of the target text, and the original message is transferred correctly to the reader or not.  The last problem is concerned with misunderstanding and familiarizing the youths with the main content of these valuable letters.

  Review of the Literature

This section will address different approaches and models proposed by translation studies scholars for evaluating and/or assessing translation quality in one way or another.

     Williams (2004), asserts that when we attempt to classify TQA models, it would be preferable, according to the general trend in translation studies to divide all types and approaches to translation quality assessment into two categories: a) Quantitative models that tackle with micro textual analysis of the texts and work according to several errors in translation. These models attempt to explain the worth and benefits of translation numerically. b) Non-quantitative (qualitative) or general models that address a macro textual analysis of the texts and do not focus on finding the number of errors. The merit of the translation is explained according to the observance of the designed criterion for a piece of translation based on models. Along with TQA models, Williams deals with the discourse analysis to build a general whole-text framework for instrumental translation evaluation as well.

     As stated by Paltridge (2012), discourse analysis surveys styles of language beyond the texts and checks out the relationship between language and the social and cultural context in which it is used. It analyzes how the use of language is regulated by relationships between participants as well as the effects the use of language has upon social identities and relations. It also copes with how views of the world and identities are created across the use of discourse.

     House’s model operates based on a) A profile is created of the ST register. b) The description of the ST genre is identified by the register. c) ‘Statement of function’ that is for ST, consists of the ideational and interpersonal components of that function. d) Then the descriptive process is carried out for TT. e) The TT profile is compared to the ST profile and mismatches or errors are created and divided based on genre and to the situational aspects of register and genre; these features of errors are referred to as ‘covertly erroneous errors’ which are denotative mismatches or target system errors. f) Next, ‘the statement of quality’ is made of the translation. g) At last, the translation can be divided into two types: overt translation and covert translation (Munday, 2008).

     The difference between two various types of translation goes back to Friedrich Schleiermacher’s (1813) distinction between ‘alienating’ and ‘integrating’ translations. An overt translation must overtly be a translation, not a ‘second original.’ The source text is linked to source lingua culture as well as specially directed at source culture addresses. A covert translation is not addressed to the source culture audience and with its source text have equivalent purposes (House, 2016).

     Selecting overt and covert translation not only depends on the text or the translator’s subjective interpretation of the text but also on the purposes for the translation, the implied readers, and different publishing and marketing policies. In this manner, overt translation consists of political, simplified, literary, religious text, and so on, but covert translation includes business circulars, scientific texts, journalistic texts, advertisements, and information booklets (House, 2001). Moreover, if the source culture is both appealing and eminent to other communities, most translators apply an overt translation strategy in their target texts (House, 2006).

House (1997) mentions that overt translations, on the other hand, situations in which the source text is particularly directed at source culture addressees and can so confront only the socio-cultural setting of the original. In dealing with this kind of text, the translator would purpose for an exclusively defined kind of equivalence, with the target addressee being somehow ‘overtly’ sidelined (as cited in Munday, 2009).

     After House, Baker is the second theoretician who applied Halliday’s linguistic model in her book (1992). Baker considers equivalence at three different levels: at a word, above-word, grammatical, textual, and pragmatic levels.

     Word level: this equivalence consists of collocation meaning of a collection of the words.

Grammatical level: this equivalence consists of word order in a sentence.

     Textual level: this equivalence consists of thematic and information structures such as references, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction, and lexical cohesion.

     Pragmatic level: this level of equivalence considering coherence and procedures of interpretation such as speech act forces.

Nord’s notion of grades about translation quality is not comparable to the quantitative models. His model (1991) is similar to the House’s model (1997) in the fields of analyzing source and target texts and comparing them and utilizing cultural filter as well.

     His model consists of four processes:

     (1) An analysis of the TT: the TT is analyzed in connection with intra-textual items (such as grammatical, lexical, and stylistic normativity) and in connection with extra-textual items (such as the pragmatic dimensions of the recipient, time, place, etc.).

     (2) An analysis of the ST: the ST is analyzed based on the model of translation relevant text analysis. The critic requires concentrating on those items which have been found out as ‘problematic’ during TT assessment, such as coherence deficiencies, inconsistent terminology, interferences in lexicon or sentence structure, etc.

     (3) A comparison of the TT and the ST: This comparison leads to a TT profile.

     (4) A comparison of the TT profile and the target text: if the TT profile coinciding with the target text, the translation can be considered as functionally adequate.

     After determining the steps of TQA, it is needed for evaluating the quality of translations of the mentioned letters. The significance of this study is that TQA can help the readers get more acquainted with Islam through these translations and it can also save them from misunderstanding this divine religion. Eventually, this study has been done along with conducting translation quality assessment based on House’s model (1997) regarding the case of Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters translated from Persian to English focuses on especially concepts such as overt translation, proper translation and so on.

     The first general purpose of this assessment is demonstrating the advantages of House’s TQA, and getting acquaint translators who are not familiar with this model. Training how to assessing the ST and TT for the sake of evaluating the quality of the translated texts and comparison of the different translated texts from the same ST is the second purpose. The final purpose is presenting the (good or week) translation quality of the discourses.

     After Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters addressed to the youth in Western countries were translated into English and other European languages, they became international; therefore, they have become highly significant among the religious and political translations. The authors describe the recent events in the Islamic world for the European youths and inform them about the ‘Islam-o-phobia’ created by aggressive terrorism.

Methodology

Corpus

Imam Khamenei’s (D Ẓ. A) two letters addressing the Western youth, and translations of the letters from Persian into English formed the corpus of this study. The title of the letters is To the youth in Europe and North America, and can be found online. The first one was released on 21 January 2015, and the second one on 29 November 2015 and have been translated by unknown translators.  

Research design

The study is a qualitative research, descriptive, comparative, analytic, and synthetic method that is based on House’s framework in 1997.

Data Collection & Analysis

In the first step, the source text Farsi letters were studied carefully, and in the second step, the translations of the discourses as the target texts were studied. In the next step, cultural filtering, and all elements of House’s model were meticulously compared in the SL and TL to recognize the translation errors and mismatches.

     In the second step, the English translations of the letters were assessed to identify overt and covert translations.

 Data Analysis

In this section, Field, Tenor, Mode, Genre, and Functions of the STs as well as the overt erroneous errors which were found in the translations are presented.

     Field: The original discourse of the letter is persuasive and informative.

     Tenor: Imam Khamenei addresses the youth to make them aware of the bitter events of terrorism. He clearly views the events of terrorism as tragic. He has a sense of empathy and affection for them.

     Mode: this text is a monologue which addresses the youth with religious and political sentences.

     Genre: The original discourse of the Supreme Leader to the youth is persuasive and informative. The first letter is about the release of offensive images of the Islamic sanctities in a French magazine, and intensifies the flow of anti-Islamic and Islamo phobia in Western media. The second one is concerned with terrorism and the letter’s title is Today's Terrorism is our Common Concern. It emphasizes that Americans will not even have mercy on Europeans.

     Functions of the text: the source texts function is ideational and interpersonal.

The overtly erroneous errors are the mismatches of detonative meanings of the source and target texts as follows: 1. Transliteration; 2.  Literal translation; 3. Mistranslation (Distortion of meaning); 4.  Untranslation (Not translated term); 5.  Slight change in meaning; 6.  Significant change in meaning; 7.  Breach of Target Language System

Some of the sentences of the first translation and the second translation were analyzed as follows.

 The First Letter

 

Table 1

Slight Change in the Meaning

                                   ST

                                            TT

همچنین در این نوشته به سیاستمداران و دولتمردان شما خطاب نمیکنم، چون معتقدم که آنان آگاهانه راه سیاست را از مسیر صداقت و درستی جدا کرده‌اند.

I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

 In the ideational Meta function, the word ‘ politics’ has been translated in the plural, yet has not changed the ideational meaning since the word is plural in form and singular.

آیا تاکنون به جز رسانه ها، پیام اسلام را از منبع دیگری دریافت کرده اید؟

Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

The word ‘منبع’ has been translated in the plural

آیا هرگز از خود پرسیده‌اید که همین اسلام، چگونه و بر مبنای چه ارزشهایی طیّ قرون متمادی، بزرگترین تمّدن علمی و فرهنگی جهان را پرورش داد و برترین دانشمندان و متفکّران را تربیت کرد؟

Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

The equivalence ‘distinguished’ is almost adequate semantically, yet it has been intensified so that it has changed the ideational meaning to some degree in terms of the lexical means.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches

In the translation, the translator has highlighted the features of the scientists and intellectuals of the Islamic world.

 تلاش در جهت یافتن پاسخ این پرسش‌ها، فرصت مغتنمی را برای کشف حقیقت‌های نو پیش روی شما قرار میدهد.

Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.

Field- ideational Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

The equivalent of ‘provide’ is appropriate for پیش روی قرار دادن somehow, but the equivalent of ‘open up’ is exactly appropriate for this word.

Syntactic mismatches

The word ‘تلاش’and ‘جواب’have been translated in the plural.

 

Table 2

Significant Change in the Meaning

                                ST                                                                 

                                        TT

سخن من با شما درباره ی اسلام است و به طور خاص، درباره ی تصویر و چهرهای که از اسلام به شما ارائه میگردد.

I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

 The theme ‘سخن من با شما’ has been translated as “I would like to talk to you”.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches 

The phrase ‘would like to’ does not exist in the deep structure of the ST since‘سخن من با شما درباره اسلام است’ is completely neutral in terms of the interpersonal Meta function- here the social attitude of the author. But ‘would like to’ adds an element of ‘desire and personal stance’ to the meaning. Therefore, the translator has added an interpersonal component to the TT that is absent in the ST. The term ‘would like’ expresses the possibility of doing what one wants is not considered likely or certain. The correct form can be ‘I am talking to you...’

Note: the term ‘Islam’ is a transliteration, but is not considered as an overt error translation.

 

  شما بخوبی میدانید که تحقیر و ایجاد نفرت و ترس موهوم از «دیگری»، زمینه‌ی مشترک تمام آن سودجویی‌های ستمگرانه بوده است

You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers.

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

 According to the ‘Oxford collocation’, the collocation of the term ‘hatred’ is not ‘spreading’, also the adjective ‘illusionary’ is not correct for ‘fear’ too. Based on the Oxford dictionary, ‘breeding hatred’ and ‘irrational fear’ is correct.

خواسته ی دوم من این است که در واکنش به سیل پیشداوری ها تبلیغات منفی، سعی کنید شناختی مستقیم و بی واسطه از این دین به دست آورید.

My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion.

Field- ideational Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

The word ‘تبلیغات منفی’ has been translated ‘disinformation campaigns’, both the meanings of the words has been changed somehow.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

 Not only has the stance of the author changed regarding this term but also the reader’s perception of this also changes. According to the ‘Longman Dictionary’, ‘disinformation’ means “false information which is given deliberately in order to hide the truth or confuse people, especially in political situations”, and the general meaning of ‘campaign’ is “a series of planned activities that are intended to achieve a particular social, commercial or political aim”. The term ‘negative propaganda’ can be applied for these terms.

 

Table 3

Untranslated Term          

                                     ST

                              TT

منطق سلیم اقتضاء میکند که لااقل بدانید آنچه شما را از آن میگریزانند و میترسانند، چیست و چه ماهیّتی دارد؟

The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

The term ‘لااقل’ has not been translated.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

  Omitting the word ‘لااقل’causes the translation becomes positive or neutral because this word conveys an almost negative feeling.

من از شما میخواهم اجازه ندهید با چهره پردازیهای موهن و سخیف، بین شما و واقعیّت، سدّ عاطفی و احساسی ایجاد کنند و امکان داوری بیطرفانه را از شما سلب کنند

I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you.

Field- ideational Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

The word ‘عاطفی’has not been translated in the translation. The equivalent of ‘sentimental’ is appropriate for this word.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

 Lexical mismatches

In the ST the sense of sympathy is increased, but with omitting this word this feeling is reduced.

 

The Second Letter

                                                                      

Table 4

Mistranslation

                       ST

                        TT  

                        TT

با کمال تأسّف باید بگویم که گروه‌های فرومایه‌ای مثل داعش، زاییده‌ی این گونه وصلتهای ناموفّق با فرهنگهای وارداتی است.

We have to state with full regret that vile groups such as DAESH are the spawn of such ill-fated pairings with imported cultures.

I regret to say that vile groups like Daesh are born out of such unsuccessful bonding with imported cultures.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘باید’ has been translated ‘have to’, and in the second TT, this term has not been translated.

Textual mismatches

In the first TT, the pronoun ‘من’ has been translated into ‘we’.

Note: the term DAESH is a transliteration, it can be true in the English text, but the common word for this is ‘Isis.’

                                        

Table 5

Significant Change in the Meaning

                           ST

                     TT

                      TT

برای من تأسّف‌باراست که چنین رویدادهایی بستر سخن را بسازد

For me, it is unfortunate that such incidents would have to create the framework for a conversation

In my view, it is regrettable that such events provide the ground for dialogue

Explanation

Field-Ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

The term, ‘برای من’ means ‘for me’ or ‘to me’, which shows empathy, while ‘In my view’ shows no emotional involvement.

در مقابل، پیوندهای ناهمگون و تحمیلی، ناموفّق و خسارت‌بار بوده است.

On the contrary, inharmonious interactions have been unsuccessful and harmful impositions

On the contrary, incongruous and imposed bonds have proven to be unsuccessful and damaging.

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘تحمیلی’ is an adjective, while it is translated as a noun. Also, the meaning of the sentence has changed. This kind of error can be considered as A Breach of TL System as well.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

The kind translation of the first TT, conveys the author’s meaning to the reader differently.

برخورد دوگانه ی غرب با جنبش بیداری در جهان اسلام نمونه ی گویایی از تضاد در سیاستهای غربی است.

The prejudiced response of the west to the awakening movement in the Islamic world is an illustrative example of the contradictory western policies.

The West’s double-standards vis-à-vis the movement of awakening in the Muslim world is a telling example of contradiction in the Western policies.

Field- ideational Meta functions

Syntactic mismatches

The term ‘تضاد’ is a noun, while it translated as an adjective in the first translation. This kind of error can be considered as Breach of TL System as well.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta functions

Syntactic mismatches

Changing the grammatical role of the word changes the meaning of the word.

امّا واقعیّت این است که اگر مسائل دردناک، زمینه ای برای چاره اندیشی و محملی برای همفکری فراهم نکند، خسارت دوچندان خواهد شد

however the truth is that if painful matters do not create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation, then the damage caused will be multiplied.

 

but the reality is that if [such] painful issues do not provide the ground for finding a solution and a venue for consultation, the ensuing damage will double.

 

Field-Ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

The meanings of the highlighted word has been changed in the target texts.

In the first TT ‘multiply’ does not mean ‘دوچندان’.

Tenor- Interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches

In the first TT, the position of the author is more negative through the word ‘multiplied’ since that the stance of the author has been increased in the negative aspect—the translator could have used the word ‘double’ to avoid the negative stance.

               

 

Table 6

Breach of TL System

                          ST

                      TT

                          TT

امّا واقعیّت این است که اگر مسائل دردناک، زمینه ای برای چاره اندیشی و محملی برای همفکری فراهم نکند، خسارت دوچندان خواهد شد.

however the truth is that if painful matters do not create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation, then the damage caused will be multiplied.

 

but the reality is that if [such] painful issues do not provide the ground for finding a solution and a venue for consultation, the ensuing damage will double.

Explanation

Field-Ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the second translation, ‘will double’ should be passive.

متأسّفانه این ریشه‌ها طیّ سالیان متمادی، بتدریج در اعماق سیاستهای فرهنگی غرب نیز رسوخ کرده و یک هجوم نرم و خاموش را سامان داده است.

Unfortunately, these roots have taken hold in the depths of western political culture over the course of many years and they have caused a soft and silent invasion. 

Unfortunately, these roots have also penetrated deeply the cultural policies of the West through consecutive years, and have led to a soft and silent onslaught.

 

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the second TT, the term ‘در اعماق’ has been translated as an adverb.

دنیای اسلام نیز از این امر مستثنا نبوده است.

The Islamic world is not an exception to this.

The Muslim world has been no exception to this rule.

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

The term ‘نبوده است’ in the first TT has been translated ‘is not’ and in the second TT ‘has been no’, therefore the second is accepted.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

The stance of the author toward ‘has been no’ is stable, because this verb represents that this action has been permanent.

مستندات مسلّم تاریخی بروشنی نشان میدهد.......

Authoritative historical records clearly show………..

Historical evidence makes it clear...

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

The term ‘بروشنی’ is an adverb, but in the second TT is translated as an object.

                                       

Table 7

Untranslated Term

                          ST

                        TT

                          TT

متأسّفانه این ریشه‌ها طیّ سالیان متمادی، بتدریج در اعماق سیاستهای فرهنگی غرب نیز رسوخ کرده و یک هجوم نرم و خاموش را سامان داده است.

Unfortunately, these roots have taken hold in the depths of western political culture over the course of many years and they have caused a soft and silent invasion. 

Unfortunately, these roots have also penetrated deeply the cultural policies of the West through consecutive years, and have led to a soft and silent onslaught.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

Ideational mismatches

The term ‘بتدریج’ has not been translated in both translations.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches

Omitting the term ‘بتدریج’ has been caused the stance of the author become more negative.

دنیای اسلام نیز از این امر مستثنا نبوده است.

The Islamic world is not an exception to this. 

The Muslim world has been no exception to this rule.

 

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘امر’ has not been translated.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘امر’ has not been translated, which has not led to the intensification of the attention of the author to the topic, although it has affected the tone of the letter in this position.

با کمال تأسّف باید بگویم

We have to state

I regret to say that

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

The term ‘کمال’ has not been translated.

Tenor- interpersonal Meat function

Lexical mismatches

The term ‘کمال’ shows the intensity of something, while this term has not been translated in the second TT. Furthermore, this term shows the great regret of the author to the reader.

مستندات مسلّم تاریخی

Authoritative historical records

Historical evidence

Field- ideational Meta function

Lexical mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘مسلّم’ has not been translated.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches

The term ‘مسلّم’ indicates the author’s firm belief while omitting this term in the translation can weaken this opinion and idea.

 

                                                          

Table 8

Slight Change in the Meaning

                         ST

                        TT

                      TT  

هرکس که از محبّت و انسانیّت بهره‌ای برده باشد، از دیدن این صحنه‌ها متأثّر و متألّم میشود، چه در فرانسه رخ دهد، چه در فلسطین و عراق و لبنان و سوریه.

Anyone who has benefited from affection and humanity is affected and disturbed by witnessing these scenes—whether it occurs in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria. 

Anybody endowed with affection and humanity is affected and touched by these scenes, whether they occur in France, in Palestine, in Iraq, in Lebanon or in Syria.

Explanation

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the first translation, the pronoun ‘it’ refers to ‘صحنه‌ها’, so should be plural.

قطعاً یک‌ونیم میلیارد مسلمان همین احساس را دارند و از عاملان و مسبّبان این فجایع، منزجر و بیزارند.

Without a doubt, the one-and-a-half billion Muslims also have these feelings and abhor and are revolted by the perpetrators and those responsible for these calamities. 

Definitely, one and a half billion Muslims share this feeling and abhor and loathe the perpetrators of these tragedies.

 

Field- Ideational Meta-function

Lexical mismatches

The term ‘perpetrators’ has been applied for two terms ‘عاملان و مسبّبان’.

Syntactic mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘همین احساس’ has been translated in the plural.

Note: although the terms ‘عاملان و مسبّبان’ have been translated into one equivalent, two synonymous words are not used together in English, and it is used only in Persian.

 

امروز کمتر کسی از نقش ایالات متّحده‌ی آمریکا در ایجاد یا تقویت و تسلیح القاعده، طالبان و دنباله‌های شوم آنان بی اطلّاع است.

Today, there are very few people who are uninformed about the role of the United States of America in creating, nurturing and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors. 

Today, barely is someone unaware of the United States of America’s role in the creation or strengthening and arming of al-Qaeda, Taliban and their ominous followers.

 

Field- ideational Meta functions

Lexical mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘کمتر کسی’ has been translated into ‘very few people’.

Tenor- interpersonal Meta function

Lexical mismatches

With the term ‘کمتر کسی’ the stance of the author has been more negative.

در مقابل، پیوندهای ناهمگون و تحمیلی، ناموفّق و خسارت‌بار بوده است.

On the contrary, inharmonious interactions have been unsuccessful and harmful impositions.

On the contrary, incongruous and imposed bonds have proven to be unsuccessful and damaging.

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the second TT, the verb ‘بوده است’ has been translated into ‘have proven’.

مستندات مسلّم تاریخی بروشنی نشان میدهد که چگونه تلاقی استعمار با یک تفکّر افراطی و مطرود، آن هم در دل یک قبیله ی بدوی، بذر تندروی را در این منطقه کاشت.

Authoritative historical records clearly show how colonialist confluence of extremist and rejected thoughts in the heart of a Bedouin tribe, planted the seed of extremism in this region. 

 

Historical evidence makes it clear how the colonialism’s concurrence with an extremist and ostracized mentality in the heart of a primitive tribe, planted the seed of radicalism in this region.

 

Field- ideational Meta function

Syntactic mismatches

In the first TT, the term ‘تفکّر’ has been translated in the plural, and in the second TT.

       

Discussion and conclusion

The House’s TQA (1997) model was used to assess the quality of English translations of some of the sentences of Imam Khamenei’s letters. Undoubtedly, it can be mentioned that in religious- political translations, there are a lot of translation errors and problems. Therefore, it is essential to assess the quality of translation in many religious- political works that have not been analyzed accurately in terms of translation errors and mismatches.  The obtained results are discussed in the light of the related body of literature.

     First, based on House's (1997) TQA model, the mismatches of the translations such as field and tenor were recognized. Next, the errors in the translations of two different discourses were distinguished. In fact, the translators have not committed any covert errors, but mismatches and errors found in the translation of selected sentences in Imam Khamenei’s (D. Ẓ. A) letters were classified as overt errors. As stated previously, according to House’s TQA, because the source text is a religious- political text, it must be translated overtly. After that, in the selected sentences, overt errors of the translations in comparison with the source texts were evaluated. In the last part, the genre of the source texts, and functions of the texts were determined.

Thus, the source text profiles are compared to the text translations profile absolutely.

          According to House (1997), overt and covert translation types are distinguished by the examination of the presence or absence of a cultural filter. In other words, when a cultural filter is inserted into the TT, the translation is called covert, and when a cultural filter is not used, the TT is called overt. The researcher did not observe instances of cultural filtering in this research; thus, the translation can be generally described as overt. Overt translation fits the semantic purpose of the translation, while a covert dimension could have contributed to the communicative purpose of translation, which is missing here.

     The common overt erroneous errors on the translations are: 1- Not translated term 2- Slight change in the meaning

3- Significant change in the meaning 4- Distortion of meaning 5- Breach of the Language System.

     In these translations, overt errors about nontranslated terms, and distortion of meaning cause the reader not understand the concept of the sentence meaning correctly or lose an important point about the author’s statement. The slight change in the meaning does not cause damage to the meaning of sentences, for example, translating singular nouns into plural cannot change the meaning significantly.

     Incompatibility between tenses in STs and TTs, changing roles of terms, and translating passive sentences into active sentences are components of Breach of the Language System that were observed in the translations. Although all the elements of the Breach of the Language System are considered as overt errors, some of them do not cause serious problems in the quality of translation.

     The important points about mismatches can be summarized as follows:

  1. With respect to the field, the mismatches were found in the areas of lexical, syntactic, and textual items. Many changes have occurred to the transmission of information. In lexical mismatches of TTs in this study such as omitting a term, translating the meaning wrongly, error in the correct expression of meaning, and incorrect equivalent mislead the reader. Therefore, the translator has not transmitted the original meaning. Also, regarding syntactic mismatches, there were slight Breach of Tl system. It should be noted that Breach of Tl System is a grammatical factor, and is enumerated as a syntactic mismatch in comparison with translations. In the last part as textual mismatches, there was just one case in the first translation.
  2. With regard to tenor, the language of two source texts is formal in terms of register. Although these texts are formal, the social distance between the author and readers is friendly and intimate with the sense of empathy and commiseration. In Author's Personal (Emotional and Intellectual) stance, viewpoint in original text differs from translated texts in some cases. For example, misinterpreting and not translating some important phrases or words has neutralized or reduced the speaker’s sense of compassion or hatred about some the tragic events. 

     Finally, after applying the model to the translation of the first letter and both translations of the second letter, they were compared to assess the quality of translations, and see which of the translations of the second letter is more appropriate based on House’s TQA model.

     House’s model not only find the errors and mismatches but also will offer guidelines based on which translators and translator trainers can perform their jobs better next time they try to cope with the activity.

     Our main aim in this study was to assess the quality of translation as concerns the two English translations of the religious- political discourses written by Imam Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We did so by applying House’s model of translation quality assessment to the above-mentioned translations after having applied the model to the source text itself with special attention to the main components of House’s model, including the ideational, the interpersonal, and the textual meta functions as determining the more general components of field, tenor, and mode.

     Accordingly, the major contribution of the present research to Translation Studies is that it provides empirical data for demonstrating the application of House’s model to the analysis of political, ideological, and social effects. This information is important given that other studies conducted in the same area, namely political- religious discourses, were not to be detectable by the researcher although she did her best to locate any similar studies in this scope of translation quality assessment especially applying House’s translation quality assessment model.

     Translator trainers can also take advantage of the findings of the present study in that they can shift their focus from such banal subjects as the usual translation errors and ‘good’ or ‘bad’ points to much deeper, more comprehensive ones as ‘covert’ and ‘overt’ translation types.

Translation graders can also effectively exploit the tremendous potential of House’s model in the following manner: They can avoid being satisfied with the usual matters of trifling importance. Rather, they can organize the job of grading based on the more scientific, objective criteria posed by the present model.

The present study focused on the translation quality assessment of political- ideological discourse. Other future researchers can focus on other texts, either written or spoken, by the same authority in order to further investigate the applicability of House’s model to political and ideological translation.

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