Richard's Bio

Richard grew up bilingually, living at various times in Germany, England, Scotland and Ireland. Following a few years in the army, a degree in Religious Studies and training as a barrister, arbitrator and mediator, becoming a translator seemed a logical next step. For the last 10 years, he has been providing specialised training in legal translation and legal language to translators, lawyers and judges.

He enjoys whisk(e)y and linguistic pedantry.

Sustainable business development to me means selecting the customers who will keep coming back.

Richard's Conference Workshop

Expert opinions – assessing translation quality independently

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
; [Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II]

Shakespeare’s Juliet points out that using different terminology would not change the essence. The same is true for translations, which, particularly in the literary field, are necessarily hugely subjective. It is not a simple question of the translation being “right” or “wrong”, a work of literature is not merely conveying information, it tells a story. The tone, the style, the very feel of the original work needs to be transported into the target language.

The German author Günter Grass famously told his translators to be more autonomous in their translations, to invent things- essentially acknowledging the translator as a co-author. However, if translation is so subjective, can the quality of a translation be assessed objectively?

The quality of translations is frequently in dispute. Whether it is a client who is unhappy with a translation, a translator who feels that any such criticism is unjust, or indeed a judge who now has to decide on the matter, sometimes it becomes necessary to have a neutral and objective assessment of the quality of a translation, for example by way of an expert opinion.

In this workshop, I will be looking at different criteria for assessing quality, exploring how one can provide detailed explanations of the problems to target readers who may not be familiar with either the source or the target language. Participants will have the chance of working on translation excerpts and, taking on the role of expert witnesses, and provide a commentary on the quality of those excerpts.