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The Effect of the Translator's Gender on Translation Evaluation


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Abstract

Ebrahim Golavar photoThis article is an attempt to investigate the relationship between the gender of a translator and the gender of the evaluator of the work of that translator. The researcher hypothesizes that if a male rater is to evaluate a translated text done by both a man and a woman, he would unconsciously choose the translation of the same gender and vice versa. To test this hypothesis, 6o (30 men and 30 women) senior students of the translation training program at the Maritime University of Chabahar were selected and participated in the experiment. The test included 20 questions; it was designed based on two translations of one chapter of a short story which was translated one by a male and the other by a female translator from English to Persian. Two of the answer options were the translations of the two translators and the others were wrong translations. The subjects were asked to choose just the one which was nearest to their own opinions. Finally, the data analysis of the study showed that the relationship between the variables of the study was not proved and the research hypothesises was rejected. The limitations and implications of this study, as well as its suggestions for future research, are discussed.

Key Words: Translation, Gender, Translator, Evaluation, Rater, Short Story

  1. Introduction
  2. Gender differences are certain physical and mental distinctions between male and female humans. Over the years, there have been many studies to explore the origins of these differences, to highlight them and to consider their effects on different issues and processes. It can be interesting to mention that in almost all fields of studies; there have been efforts to highlight the differences between males and females. Academic literature of psychology, biology, medicine, education, management, marketing and etc, contains plenty of research done in this subject.

    Language is no exception and gender studies have received considerable attention in language reseach. Brown (2007) introduces four theoretical positions for research on language and gender and mentions the scholars who have explored a broad range of topics and issues related to this field (Mckay, 2005; Davis & Skilton-Sylvester, 2004; Sunderland, 2000; Tannen, 1996, 1990; Holmes, 1991, 1989; Nilsen et al., 1977; Lakoff, 1975).

    In translation evaluation, the gender of the evaluator can be ignored.
    In recent years, the concept of gender has also been the focus of some research in the field of translation studies and a number of scholars have investigated this subject (Simon 1996; Von Flotow, 1997, 2001; Chamberlain, 1998; Santaemilia, 2005; Strauss, 1998; State 1994)

    According to Von Flotow (2001) the issue of gender and translation can be investigated in historical studies, theoretical considerations, issues of identity, post-colonial questions, and questions of cultural transfer. While most of the research done regarding gender in translation has dealt with the issue of the translators' gender identity and its effect on their translations, the present study is on the relationship between the gender of a translator and the gender of the evaluator of the work of that translator.

    Since the subjects of the present study act like translation raters, it can be said that this study implicitly deals with the concept of translation evaluation. Although translation evaluation has been the focus of a considerable volume of research in translation studies, it still seems to be a controversial concept in this field and, like the existing approaches to translation quality evaluation, has some deficiencies (Colina, 2008).

    Thus, the present study aims at investigating whether or not there is any relationship between the gender of a translator and that of the evaluator of the translator's work..

  3. Male versus Female

    Several studies have shown significant differences between men and women. Different reasons have been suggested as the causes of these differences such as physical, mental, behavioral, and other differences. In almost all disciplines, these differences have been the subject of many studies. According to Mark (2007), some of the differences between men and women are:

    • The average man is taller and heavier than an average woman,
    • Men have more body hair than women do.
    • Women are more sensitive to sound than men.
    • On average, girls begin puberty changes approximately two years before boys.
    • Men have larger hearts and lungs, and their higher levels of testosterone cause them to produce greater amounts of red blood cells.
    • More men than women become infected with HIV.
    • Women are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
    • Men and women process information differently because of differences in a portion of the brain called the splenium, which is much larger in women than in men, and has more brain-wave activity.
    • An average man performs better on tests of spatial and mathematical ability, while women perform better on tests of verbal ability and memory.
    • Men are more physically aggressive.
    • Women express their emotions more readily and experience a greater intensity of emotion.
    • Males are much better in visualizing a three-dimensional object than women are.

    Bearing theses differences in mind, there is also an enormous amount of scientific and experimental studies to explore and show the differences. Some of them are briefly mentioned:

    Mathieu d'Acremont (2006) did a survey on the effect of gender differences in two decision-making tasks in a community sample of adolescents. Eagly and Carli (2003) claimed that women have some advantages in typical leadership style but suffer some disadvantages from prejudicial evaluations of their competence as leaders, especially in masculine organizational contexts. Mulac (2001) and et al. did a study on gender preferences for language use and claimed that such preferences function in ways that are consistent with stylistic preferences that distinguish national cultures. Lunsford (2000) investigated the role of gender in ethical judgments and concluded that female evaluators make more ethical judgments. Stephen Colbrann (2002) compared the management skills of male and female judges and put forward that males are better than females in this regard. Luthar (2005) did a survey on the effect of gender differences in evaluation of performance and leadership ability and concluded that male subjects tended to evaluate other male managers higher while female subjects were partial to female managers in their evaluations.

    Throughout history, language-related differences between men and women have been the subject of a considerable amount of studies. Over the years, researchers have tried to investigate the differences between the way males and females acquire/learn language, and the way they use language and communicate.

    Thus, the present study also deals with one of these language-related differences, i.e. the relation between the gender of a translation evaluator and the gender of the translator of that translation.

  4. The Study

    3.1. Research Question

    The purpose of this study is to find out the answer to the following question:

    Is there any relationship between the gender of a translator and the gender of the evaluator of the work of that translator?

    3.2 Research Hypotheses

    In order to investigate the above mentioned research question, the following hypothesizes were developed:

    1. There is a relationship between the gender of a translator and the gender of the evaluator of his or her work.
    2. If there are two translations of one text, one of which is done by a male translator and the other by a female one, the male evaluator will choose the work of the male translator and vice versa.

    3.3 Subjects

    The subjects of the study were 60 senior students of the translation training program at the Chabahar Maritime University. They were randomly selected from among 100 students who participated in an Oxford Placement Test. The purpose of this test was to assure the homogeneity of the subjects' general proficiency. They were also tested on principles of translation for relative homogeneity of their translation competence. Based on their genders, the students were assigned to two groups of the same size.

    3.4 Materials, Procedure and Data Analysis

    The subjects were given a multiple-choice test which had 20 questions. The test was designed based on two translations of one chapter of a short story which was translated both by a female and a male translator from English to Persian. Two of the answer options included the translations of the two translators and both were correct; out of the 4 choices the subjects, however, were asked to choose just the one which was nearest to their own opinion. The subjects were not told about the research.

    For correcting the papers, two alternatives were considered:

    1. The correct answers were the translations of the males.
    2. The correct answers were the translations of the females.

    The papers were collected and corrected by the above-mentioned methods. Then the mean and standard deviation of each group were calculated and the results are shown in table 1.

    Table 1. Descriptive Analysis of the Study

    Groups

    No. of
    Students

    Answers

    Average score

    Standard Deviation

    1

    30

    1

    15.61

    1.048

    1

    30

    2

    14.98

    1.157

    2

    30

    1

    14.84

    1.223

    2

    30

    2

    15.02

    1.147

    Groups: 1 = male students;
    2 = female students.
    Answers: 1 = Translation of male translator is correct;
    2 = Translation of female translator is correct.

    As is seen in Table 1, the standard deviation between the groups is approximately the same so it can be said that there is no significant relationship between the variables of the study, which means that the research hypothesis is not acceptable.

  5. Conclusion

    The major objective of this article was to find out an answer to this question that whether the gender of a translation evaluator can have an effect on his or her rating of a translation which is done by a male and a female translator. The study reported here indicated that the difference between the answers of the two groups as measured by the standard deviations was not meaningful. Therefore, in translation evaluation, the gender of the evaluator can be ignored. There are some limitations in this study. First, since the translated text used here was a short story, generalizing the finding of this study to the translation evaluation of other kinds of texts can be difficult. Second, the focus of the study was just on translation; interpretation was not included. Hence, conducting research on the translation evaluation of other texts could provide broader insights. This study has implications for translation evaluation and testing. It is suggested that the same study be done on the other kinds of text and on interpretation. Moreover, we also recommend that in the future studies be done on gender differences in the process of translation or interpretation.

References

Acremont, M. (2006). 'Gender differences in two decision-making tasks in a community sample of adolescents', Intentional Journal of Behavioral Development, vol. 30, no.4. Retrieved December 26 from: www.sagepub.com

Brown, D. H. (2007). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching (5th Ed.). San Francisco State University: Pearson Longman. 234-235

Colbran, S. (2002). 'Management Skills as a Criterion for Judicial Performance Evaluation', Retrieved December 26 from: www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals

Colina, Sonia. (2008). 'Translation Quality Evaluation: Empirical Evidence for a Functionalist Approach', The Translator, 14(1): 97-134

Davis, A.k. and Skilton-Sylvester, E. (2004). 'Looking Back, Taking Stock, Moving Forward: Investigating Gender in TESOL', TESOL Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 3. P. 381

Eagly, A. H and Carli, L.L. (2003). 'The female Leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence', The Leadership Quarterly, vol. 14. No 6. Retrieved December 2o from:
www.elsevier.com

Lunsford, D.L. (2000). 'Ethical Judgments: Does Gender Matter?', Teaching Business Ethics, vol. 4, no.1. Retrieved December 26 from: www.ingentaaccount.com

Luthar, H. K. (2005). 'Gender differences in evaluation of performance and leadership ability: Autocratic vs. democratic managers', Springer Netherlands, vol. 35, no. 5-6

Mark,. (2007). 'Difference between male and female structures (mental and physical)', Retrieved December 24 from: www.steadyhealth.com

Mulac, A. Bradac, J.J, Gibbons, P. (2001). 'Empirical support for the gender-as-culture hypothesis. An intercultural analysis of male/female language differences', Human communication Research, vol. 21, no. 1. Retrieved December 24 from:
www.wileyinterscience.com

Simon, Sh. (1996). Gender in Translation: Cultural identity and the politics of transmission.

Von Flotow, L. (2001). 'Gender in Translation: The Issues Go on', Retrieved December 2o from:
http://www.orees.concordia.ca/numero2/essai/VonFlotow.html





Published - June 2009











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