Comprehensibility should be a central issue in translation, or rather translation quality assessment (Göpferich 2009). However, in translation research it is addressed rather peripherally and unsystematically. It can be related, for instance, to Baker’s (1996) concepts of simplification and explicitation, to grammatical metaphor as text property and translation strategy (cf. Steiner 2001, Hansen 2003), to translation criticism (cf. Reiß 1971 or House 1997) to problems of specialized translation (cf. Krein-Kühle 2002), controlled languages and machine translation (cf. Doherty 2012), and to intralingual translation such as public information on medical or legal issues (cf. Lerch 2004 ), or popular science in general (cf. Niederhauser 1998). However, a theoretically motivated classification as well as a comprehensive study are still lacking for modeling comprehensibility in translation. Moreover, the role of comprehensible source texts for producing comprehensible target texts ! and possible disruptive factors which might have an impact on the text comprehensibility have not yet been investigated empirically.
From the source text perspective the following questions are of importance: Which text types and registers are especially problematic with respect to their comprehensibility? How do translators cope with these problems? Is specialized translation especially problematic? Has the comprehensibility of texts changed within the last decades and under the pressure of digitization, globalization and initiatives like the Plain English Campaign? With respect to the target texts the following issues are of interest: Which procedures are employed during translation in order to improve the comprehensibility of texts? Do translators employ these procedures consciously or unconsciously? Why do translators tend to improve the source texts? Can we identify universal strategies between different text types, between inter- and intra-lingual translation and between different languages?
Finally, one central question has to be dealt with: How can we systematically measure comprehensibility? Concerning this question, methods and techniques might be borrowed from translation process research: product-oriented research, process-oriented research as well as combinations of both might provide quantifications concerning the comprehensibility of source and target texts. Linguistic patterns are detected on the basis of translation corpora; cognitive processes during translation as well as reception are investigated through cognitive empirical research. The latter includes offline methods (retrospective interviews, comprehensibility ratings, etc.) as well as online methods (keylogging, eyetracking, thinking aloud, etc.). Using data triangulation, cause-and-effect chains can be identified on the basis of empirical data. In addition, central features which make up a comprehensible or an incomprehensible text become obvious and suggestions for optimization become possible.
The panel invites papers dealing with one or more of the questions addressed above. It intends to bring together researchers with different methodological backgrounds. In consequence, it offers a platform to discuss data triangulation and multi-method approaches.
Baker, Mona (1996): \"Corpus-based Translation Studies. The Challenges that Lie Ahead\". In: Harold Somers (ed.): Terminology, LSP and Translation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 175-86.
Doherty, Stephen (2012): Investigating the effects of controlled language on the reading and comprehension of machine translated texts: A mixed-methods approach. PhD thesis, Dublin City University. (http://doras.dcu.ie/16805/)
Göpferich, Susanne (2009): \"Comprehensibility assessment using the Karlsruhe Comprehensibility Concept\". In: The Journal of Specialized Translation 11/2009.
Hansen, Silvia (2003): The Nature of Translated Text. Saarbrücken Dissertations in Computational Linguistics and Language Technology 13.
House, Juliane (1997): Translation Quality Assessment: A Model Revisited. Tübingen: Narr.
Krein-Kühle, Monika (2002): \"Cohesion and Coherence in Technical Translation: The Case of Demonstrative Reference\". In: Van Vaerenbergh, L. (ed.): Linguistics and Translation Studies. Translation Studies and Linguistics. Linguistica Antverpiensia. Antwerpen: Hogeschool Antwerpen. 41-53.
Lerch, Kent D. (ed.) (2004): Recht verstehen. Verständlichkeit, Missverständlichkeit und Unverständlichkeit von Recht. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Niederhauser, Jürg (1998): \"Darstellungsformen der Wissenschaften und populärwissenschaftliche Darstellungsformen\". In: Danneber, Lutz / Niederhauser, Jürg (Hrsg.) (1998): Darstellungsformen der Wissenschaften im Kontrast. Aspekte der Methodik, Theorie und Empirie. Tübingen: Narr.
Reiß, Katharina (1971): Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Übersetzungskritik. Kategorien und Kriterien für eine sachgerechte Beurteilung von Übersetzungen. München: Hueber.
Steiner, Erich (2001): \"Translations English-German: Investigating the relative importance of systemic contrasts and of the text type \'translation\'\". In SPRIKreports (7). 1–49. http://www.hf.uio.no/ilos/forskning/prosjekter/sprik/docs/pdf/Steiner-neu.pdf. Plain English Campaign: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/