The Effect of the Translator's Gender on Translation Evaluation
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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
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 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)
evaluation, the gender of the evaluator can be ignored.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
3.2 Research Hypotheses
In order to investigate the above mentioned research
question, the following hypothesizes were developed:
- There is a relationship between the gender of a
translator and the gender of the evaluator of his
or her work.
- 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.
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
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
For correcting the papers, two alternatives were considered:
- The correct answers were the translations of the
- The correct answers were the translations of the
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
Table 1. Descriptive Analysis of the Study
||1 = male students;
2 = female students.
||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.
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
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:
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:
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:
Published - June 2009
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