About translation quality and Schrödinger cat paradox...
Thread poster: Pablo Bouvier

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
German to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 26, 2010

According to the DRAE (the Language Dictionary of the Spanish Academy) quality is a property or a set of inherent properties of something, which allows to judge his value. However, it is clear ehough that we can not judge translation quality only by a single property of the same one. Therefore, to judge the translation value we must define at least a translation properties subset. Attempting to define the aforementioned properties subset we will find a first premise: Translation quality depends on properties of both types, subjective and objective properties. The subjective properties refer to the subjective way of thinking or the feelings of the observer (subject), while the later one refers to the translation itself (object). One consequence of this first premise is that translation quality depends on the way of thinking or feeling of the observer, or which is the same: the observer itself.

The second assumption, which is derived from a subjective analysis of the translation properties is based on the Schrödinger's cat paradox: The translation-quality system is inseparable from its subjective properties. According to the above paradox, before an analysis a translation will have also subjective translation-quality properties and we can make guesses about if the translation quality may be potentially good or potentially bad, but we can not claim (neither deny) anything about the translation itself. The mere act of analyzing the translation modifies the translation-quality status, so that after the analyse we may onsider a translation as of good or of poor quality. The result of this second premise is that translation quality based on their subjective properties depends on the observation act at all times. That is, translation quality is altered by the act of observation itself.

As a corollary, if we assume that the translation-quality system depends at least in part of the observer and the observation act themselves at all times, we must deduct that there are as many qualities as observers and observations that take place at every moment. This is a clear indicator that it is impossible to judge translation quality based on their subjective properties. This approach would require an analysis of the translation quality from a totally opposite view, namely that of the translation objective properties one, or to refer to the translation as the object itself and not from the observer point of view.

PS: I am sorry, I had a philosophical morning today.... But, I still guess it is a good fod for thought in order to think about how we should consider translation quality by proofreading, etc.icon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2010-08-26 13:39 GMT]


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:43
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Better not read translations at all Aug 26, 2010

A translation that nobody reads will never be bad.

But as Schrödinger's cat was alive in the 1920s, we may assume with high confidence, that she is dead by now.

Cheers
Heinrich


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
About translation quality and Schrödinger cat paradox... Aug 26, 2010

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

A translation that nobody reads will never be bad.



Neither good...

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

But as Schrödinger's cat was alive in the 1920s, we may assume with high confidence, that she is dead by now.

Cheers
Heinrich


Of course, the cat may be dead since 1920 (or not, as cats have nine lives as everybody know...icon_smile.gif ), but the paradox is still alive. The issue is how to avoid subjectivity and to give an objective definition/information of quality when we evaluate a translation. A dog chasing his tail, maybe...?



[Edited at 2010-08-26 13:37 GMT]


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:43
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Confusion of definitions Aug 26, 2010

I think the apparent paradoxes generally arise from a failure to recognise that there is an essential, but unarticulated, distinction between a property of an entity and somebody's knowledge or opinion of that property.
Pablo Bouvier wrote:
The subjective properties refer to the subjective way of thinking or the feelings of the observer (subject)

If they are the thoughts or feelings of the human observer, they are not properties of the object (translation) in question.
One consequence of this first premise is that translation quality depends on the way of thinking or feeling of the observer, or which is the same: the observer itself.

Confusion again. Two different meanings of the one word "quality". Meaning 1: A distinguishing characteristic, property or attribute. Meaning 2: Degree or standard of excellence.
The mere act of analyzing the translation modifies the translation-quality status, so that after the analysis we may consider a translation as of good or of poor quality.

The act of analysing the translation modifies our opinion, knowledge or judgement of its quality.
The result of this second premise is that translation quality based on their subjective properties depends on the observation act at all times. That is, translation quality is altered by the act of observation itself.

Again, not the quality but our knowledge or judgement of it.
As a corollary, if we assume that the translation-quality system depends at least in part of the observer and the observation act themselves at all times,

Yes, we must do that; the system depends on these, but the quality does not.
we must deduce that there are as many qualities as observers and observations that take place at every moment.

Not as many qualities, but as many opinions of the quality.
This is a clear indicator that it is impossible to judge translation quality based on their subjective properties.

What is more likely to be impossible is that several people agree on the (judgement of) the quality of a translation. Again, the judgement is, itself, not the quality.
This approach would require an analysis of the translation quality from a totally opposite view, namely that of the translation objective properties one, or to refer to the translation as the object itself and not from the observer point of view.

Well, doing it in a totally objective way, (a) can in principle be done by a machine (a computer program), and (b) will usually produce results that humans will not agree with.
PS: I am sorry, I had a philosophical morning today.... But, I still guess it is a good food for thought in order to think about how we should consider translation quality when proofreading, etc.

My conclusions:
  • Translation quality is obviously important because we use it to mean the degree to which the translation is suited to its purpose.
  • We talk about translation quality as though it were a property of the translation, but when a reviewer comes to the conclusion that the quality of a translation is such and such, s/he means the combined result of some objective assessment (e.g. mistranslations of terms) and personal opinion.
  • Performing the review does not modify an existing quality of the translation: either it brings it (or brings this one of many possible judgements) into existence, or it adds an opinion to something that could have been measured objectively
  • Therefore the use of the word quality causes problems. If you claim that the act of reviewing a translation modifies, or brings into existence, the quality of the translation, it is wrong to think that the same word "quality" designates an intrinsic property of the translation.

There is not really a philosophical paradox - there is a practical problem of whether the word "quality" can mean both a property of a translation and somebody's judgement of it. If we don't want it to have both meanings at the same time (because then we might draw conclusions about one meaning and think they apply to the other one), we should have two different words, or at least qualify one of the meanings with an adjective.
(This posting is a result of my thoughts feeding on the food you have provided.)

Oliver
(my PS: I have corrected some errors in the quoted text, but I am sure I have not altered the intended meaning.)


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
About translation quality and Schrödinger cat paradox... Aug 26, 2010

Oliver Walter wrote:

I think the apparent paradoxes generally arise from a failure to recognise that there is an essential, but unarticulated, distinction between a property of an entity and somebody's knowledge or opinion of that property.
Pablo Bouvier wrote:
The subjective properties refer to the subjective way of thinking or the feelings of the observer (subject)

If they are the thoughts or feelings of the human observer, they are not properties of the object (translation) in question.
One consequence of this first premise is that translation quality depends on the way of thinking or feeling of the observer, or which is the same: the observer itself.

Confusion again. Two different meanings of the one word "quality". Meaning 1: A distinguishing characteristic, property or attribute. Meaning 2: Degree or standard of excellence.
The mere act of analyzing the translation modifies the translation-quality status, so that after the analysis we may consider a translation as of good or of poor quality.

The act of analysing the translation modifies our opinion, knowledge or judgement of its quality.
The result of this second premise is that translation quality based on their subjective properties depends on the observation act at all times. That is, translation quality is altered by the act of observation itself.

Again, not the quality but our knowledge or judgement of it.
As a corollary, if we assume that the translation-quality system depends at least in part of the observer and the observation act themselves at all times,

Yes, we must do that; the system depends on these, but the quality does not.
we must deduce that there are as many qualities as observers and observations that take place at every moment.

Not as many qualities, but as many opinions of the quality.
This is a clear indicator that it is impossible to judge translation quality based on their subjective properties.

What is more likely to be impossible is that several people agree on the (judgement of) the quality of a translation. Again, the judgement is, itself, not the quality.
This approach would require an analysis of the translation quality from a totally opposite view, namely that of the translation objective properties one, or to refer to the translation as the object itself and not from the observer point of view.

Well, doing it in a totally objective way, (a) can in principle be done by a machine (a computer program), and (b) will usually produce results that humans will not agree with.
PS: I am sorry, I had a philosophical morning today.... But, I still guess it is a good food for thought in order to think about how we should consider translation quality when proofreading, etc.

My conclusions:
  • Translation quality is obviously important because we use it to mean the degree to which the translation is suited to its purpose.
  • We talk about translation quality as though it were a property of the translation, but when a reviewer comes to the conclusion that the quality of a translation is such and such, s/he means the combined result of some objective assessment (e.g. mistranslations of terms) and personal opinion.
  • Performing the review does not modify an existing quality of the translation: either it brings it (or brings this one of many possible judgements) into existence, or it adds an opinion to something that could have been measured objectively
  • Therefore the use of the word quality causes problems. If you claim that the act of reviewing a translation modifies, or brings into existence, the quality of the translation, it is wrong to think that the same word "quality" designates an intrinsic property of the translation.

There is not really a philosophical paradox - there is a practical problem of whether the word "quality" can mean both a property of a translation and somebody's judgement of it. If we don't want it to have both meanings at the same time (because then we might draw conclusions about one meaning and think they apply to the other one), we should have two different words, or at least qualify one of the meanings with an adjective.
(This posting is a result of my thoughts feeding on the food you have provided.)

Oliver
(my PS: I have corrected some errors in the quoted text, but I am sure I have not altered the intended meaning.)


Hi, Oliver: First of all, thanks a lot for correcting my text. It's always nice to see that someone is collaborating positively, rather than criticizing. I know my english is quite bad, but as it is the lingua franca I try to usee it, without destroying it too much... Indeed, you are right in very of your opinions, however translation and his quality as a subset of translation properties is considered here as a whole and unique system.



[Edited at 2010-08-26 15:05 GMT]


 


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