[New publication] International Journal of Translation and Interpreting Research, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2018

Vol 10, No 2 (2018): Translation & Interpreting

Special issue: Translation of questionnaires in cross-national and cross-cultural research

Guest editors: Dorothee Behr and Mandy Sha

Table of Contents


Introduction: Translation of questionnaires in cross-national and cross-cultural research PDF
Dorothée Behr, Mandy Sha 1-4
Abstract: Translation of questionnaires has enabled cross-national and cross-cultural comparisons in the social sciences, psychology, quality-of-life research, education research, and business studies. Questionnaires are typically translated or adapted from a source language into one or several target language(s). Best practice includes parallel translation, team discussions, extensive quantitative and qualitative pretesting with respondents, and detailed documentation (Behr & Shishido, 2016; Harkness, Villar, & Edwards, 2010; Sha & Pan, 2013). But these methods are still unfamiliar to many in translation studies and the translation industry. In addition, experts in the subject-matter disciplines may lack knowledge about the state of the art in translation research. To encourage interdisciplinary exchange, translation scholars have started to reconcile translation studies and the field of questionnaire translation by combining the latest theories, approaches, and findings from both fields (Behr, 2009; Bolaños-Medina & González-Ruiz, 2012; Dorer, 2015; Kußmaul, 2007; Ozolins, 2009; Przepiórkowska, 2016).


Translating questionnaires for cross-national surveys: A description of a genre and its particularities based on the ISO 17100 categorization of translator competences PDF
Dorothée Behr 5-20

Abstract: Sound questionnaire translation is crucial for collecting equivalent data in cross-national surveys. The topic is widely discussed in fields in which translated questionnaires are used, such as in the social sciences or in cross-cultural psychology, but hardly in translation studies. This article aims at bridging this gap by bringing the genre of questionnaires closer to translation scholars and practitioners. To begin with, we will provide a sketch of key characteristics of cross-national survey methodology, with a special focus on questionnaire translation. Next, the multi-dimensional concept of translation competence will be introduced. Along the ISO 17100 competence model then, we will list requirements, challenges, and resources for questionnaire translation and illustrate those with examples. The concluding paragraph will highlight areas for interdisciplinary research involving both translation studies and cross-national survey methodology.


Translation of country-specific programs and survey error: Measuring the education level of immigrants PDF
Patricia Goerman, Leticia Fernandez, Rosanna Quiroz 21-33

Abstract: The difficulty of translating country-specific programs for use in surveys has been well documented. Questions about educational attainment offer a good illustration of this difficulty, particularly amongst Spanish-speaking immigrants in the United States, who come from a variety of countries where education systems are different in both name and structure. This article presents results from cognitive testing of Spanish education-level questions in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. We conducted two iterative rounds of testing with 46 Spanish-speaking respondents from 11 different countries. Respondents had differing interpretations of the Census Bureau’s education-level categories because they differed, either in meaning or by the terms used, from the categories in their countries of origin. For example, Mexican-origin respondents interpreted ‘escuela secundaria,’ or ‘high school,’ to correspond to nine years of schooling, while in the U.S. completing high school corresponds to 12 years of schooling. This type of misinterpretation could result in upward biases in reports of educational levels. We discuss various approaches tested to deal with this type of response error.


Questionnaire translation in the European Company Survey: Conditions conducive to the effective implementation of a TRAPD-based approach PDF
Maurizio Curtarelli, Gijs van Houten 34-54

Abstract: The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) carries out three recurring Europe-wide surveys. Up until 2013, the quality control of the questionnaire translation for these surveys was performed using back-translation. In the 2013 edition of the European Company Survey (ECS) – an establishment-level telephone survey – Eurofound for the first time followed a modified version of the Translation, Review, Adjudication, Pretesting, and Documentation (TRAPD) approach to questionnaire translation. This paper outlines why the TRAPD approach was adopted and how it was operationalised – resulting in a modified TRAPD implementation – for the purposes of the ECS 2013. It provides a reflection on the conditions that proved particularly conducive or obstructive for its efficient and effective implementation and the lessons that can be drawn for future surveys.


The translator’s perspective on translation quality control processes for international large-scale assessment studies PDF
Britta Upsing, Marc Rittberger 55-72

Abstract: International Large-Scale Assessment studies (iLSAs) like PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) and PIAAC (the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) employ stringent quality control procedures for the translation of their test items. The translations are crucial: a test item should not become more or less difficult because of its translation, given that test results are used to assess and compare the competency levels of different populations across countries. This article discusses how PISA and PIAAC translation procedures have evolved from earlier translation quality processes, and the underlying assumptions about translation that have shaped this evolution. We then report on findings from a qualitative interview study with translators, reviewers, and translation managers who have been involved in PISA or PIAAC translation processes. The objective of the interview study is to analyse the quality control procedures from the perspective of translation players. How do translators prepare for and perform translations for iLSA studies, and how does this process compare with other translation assignments they receive? This comparison will give an understanding of whether translators, in general, believe the iLSA translation process and its quality control procedures provide adequate guidance for performing these translations. We finish by proposing recommendations for future iLSA translation processes.


Probing for sensitivity in translated survey questions: Differences in respondent feedback across cognitive probe types PDF
Zeina Nazih Mneimneh, Kristen Cibelli Hibben, Lisa Bilal, Sanaa Hyder, Mona Shahab, Abdulrahman Binmuammar, Yasmin Altwaijri 73-88

Abstract: One of the core components of the TRAPD (Translation, Review, Adjudication, Pretesting and Documentation) team approach to translation in survey research is pretesting. Cognitive interviewing is increasingly being used for pretesting survey questionnaires adapted to different populations. Exploring the issue of question sensitivity is particularly relevant when adapting a questionnaire to a population different than the one for which it was designed. However, little guidance exists on the use of cognitive interviewing, and specifically, the types of verbal probes, to elicit respondent feedback on question sensitivity. In preparation for the Saudi National Mental Health Survey, cognitive interviewing was carried out to pretest the Arabic version of the World Mental Health survey instrument (CIDI 3.0). Different types of cognitive probes: proactive direct, proactive indirect and general probes were randomly assigned to survey questions to investigate differences in the feedback elicited by each type of probe. Findings suggest that different types of cognitive probes that are designed to explore perceived sensitivity of the survey questions elicit different amounts and types of feedback. An indirect cognitive probe identified a topic to be sensitive in more instances than a direct probe or a general probe. A general probe, on the other hand, elicited more non-codable feedback especially when paired with a survey question that asks about a more abstract concept such as the respondent’s feelings.


Back translation as a documentation tool PDF
Jiyoung Son 89-100

Abstract: Using back translation as a quality assessment tool in multilingual survey research is now deemed obsolete or on its way to becoming so, although it is still widely practiced. This paper will argue that back translation may be still useful as a documentation tool, not as a quality control tool. To support this premise, a review of literature that uses back translation to illustrate inevitable differences between the source and the target text is provided. This paper proposes a baseline for using back translation as a documentation tool, using examples of “good” and “bad” back translations. The value of using back translation is further demonstrated using examples from recent studies that integrated back translation into their documentation. This less-discussed use of back translation in questionnaire translation methodology merits the attention of translators and researchers. Although the utility of back translation as a quality control tool is deemed obsolete, it still has the potential for useful application as a documentation tool.


Using video technology to engage deaf sign language users in survey research: An example from the Insign project PDF
Jemina Napier, Katherine Lloyd, Robert Skinner, Graham H Turner, Mark Wheatley 101-121

Abstract: For many deaf signers, a signed language is their first or preferred language; spoken or written languages are often second languages and literacy levels among deaf signers vary. Historically, surveys carried out with deaf signers have been in written form, which means that findings of such studies may be problematic in terms of whether participants are a representative sample (as only those with higher levels of literacy may respond) and in terms of the integrity of the responses (if respondents did not fully understand questions). This paper therefore discusses issues faced in conducting survey research with deaf signers, given that they may face challenges in accessing questionnaires in written form. The paper also discusses how to conduct a multi-country study with deaf signers when they do not have a common sign language by designing a questionnaire using International Sign. We present a case study of the Insign project, which employed an online survey methodology that allowed 84 deaf respondents from 22 different countries to view questions in International Sign about their experiences with existing communication technologies and their expectations of service provision to access European Institutions. We explore the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach in relation to the use of International Sign, challenges in recruiting enough respondents, the time needed to create a signed questionnaire instrument, and how to enable deaf participants to respond in sign language. We conclude with recommendations for social science researchers to consider when administering surveys with deaf signing communities.


English to Spanish translated medical forms: A descriptive genre-based corpus study PDF
Patricia Gonzalez Darriba 122-141

Abstract: Medical translation in the United States has received increasing attention in recent years. This can be observed in the passing of legislation that supports equal access to healthcare regardless of language, in the development of training programs in educational institutions, and in the emergence of private initiatives in this field (Gonzalez Darriba, 2014). In this context, this paper aims to describe a genre with a very large volume of translation within medical practices, the Patient’s Personal and Medical Information Form (PPMIF), a questionnaire that gathers the relevant information needed for a successful first encounter between a patient and a medical practitioner. This description may serve as a basis for future reference when tackling the translation of PPMIF, as well as a tool for translation training and quality assessment. The analysis employed stems from a genre approach based on English for Special Purposes and Discourse Analysis applied to Translation (Gamero, 2001; García Izquierdo, 2009). Methodologically, it uses a corpus-based approach to compile and describe a parallel corpus of 100 English-language Patient’s Personal and Medical Information Forms (PPMIF) and their translations into Spanish. Subsequently, in order to provide a description for the PPMIF as a genre, a genre-based approach is applied to outline its five main components, following Gamero’s Genre Characterization Model and Jiménez-Crespo’s (2010) work on forms.


Translation and visual cues: Towards creating a road map for limited English speakers to access translated Internet surveys in the United States PDF
Mandy Sha, Y. Patrick Hsieh, Patricia L. Goerman 142-158

Abstract: This study seeks to provide a starting point in the survey translation and user experience literatures about facilitating entry to online survey questionnaires among limited English speakers in the United States. We present results from an assessment of prototype materials with limited English speakers: prenotification materials, survey entry pages, and informational web pages. We found that combining translation with common website functionality visual cues (tabs, hyperlinks, drop-down menus, and URLs) can help limited English-speaking individuals improve their experience using and accessing entry pages and informational web pages for government surveys. We also provide recommendations for continued research to develop translations and visual cues that are visible, clear, and linguistically and culturally appropriate. The ultimate goal is increased inclusion and accessability for hard-to-reach populations in online Federal surveys in the United States.