The Impact of Instructions on Survey Translation: An Experimental Study

  • Brian Kleiner FORS-Swiss Centre for Expertise in the Social Sciences
  • Yuling Pan US Census Bureau
  • Jerelyn Bouic Westat
Keywords: survey translation, equivalence, adaption, translation, instructions

Abstract

The experimental study described in this paper examined the impact of providing special instructions and supporting material to translators. Specifically, it addressed whether Spanish, Chinese, and French translators provided with explanatory text and guidelines were able to produce translations that were more faithful to the intended meaning of English source survey items, as well as that were more culturally appropriate and natural sounding compared to those of translators who received no such guidance. Study findings indicate that while the provision of special instructions and documentation to translators had a considerable impact on their translations, the direction of the impact (positive or negative) differed across the target languages, according to scale ratings of professional survey researchers who were native speakers of those languages.
Published
2009-12-23
Section
Articles