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Friday 17th July, 11:00 - 12:30 Room: O-206

What does it mean to produce equivalent questionnaire translations 1?

Convenor Dr Dorothée Behr (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences )
Coordinator 1Dr Alisú Schoua-glusberg (Research Support Services Inc.)
Coordinator 2Ms Brita Dorer (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)

Session Details

Equivalent data in cross-cultural and cross-national surveys is the precondition for any meaningful comparison across countries or cultures. Equivalence is a complex concept, though. Johnson (1998) lists over 50 different equivalence definitions from the social sciences, psychology and related fields that may broadly be classified into interpretive and procedural equivalence. The field of translation studies equally struggles with a multitude of approaches and definitions (Kenny, 1998), which specify, for instance, the rank of equivalence (e.g., word or textual level) or the type of equivalence (denotative, pragmatic, etc.) that can be obtained.

In this session, we will look into what it means to produce equivalent questionnaire translations. Key questions in this regard are: What needs to be kept equivalent and what needs to change in order to produce questionnaire translations that work as intended? What guidance can be given to translators of questionnaires in cross-national studies?

Presenters are invited to cover any of the following topics: (1) equivalence of form vs. equivalence of effect; (2) face-value-equivalence vs. perceived meaning; (3) the role of culture-specific discourse conventions (e.g., directness, politeness; theme-rheme); (4) questionnaire design principles (usually developed on the basis of the English language) and their challenges for translation; (5) challenges for particular language combinations; (6) methods to address equivalence: interplay between statistical assessment and expert judgment, split-ballot, mixed-method, rating tasks (for response scales, for instance), corpus linguistics. Presentations are encouraged to further our knowledge on “changes” in the translation that may be necessary in order to produce translations that pave the way for comparable data.

Paper Details

1. On the quest for equivalence in translating response scales. The ESS 6 example in Poland
Ms Danuta Przepiórkowska (University of Warsaw)
Ms Teresa Zmijewska-jedrzejczyk (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Equivalence may be understood in a variety of ways and has numerous definitions, both in translation studies and in survey research. To look at the tension between equivalence of form versus equivalence of effect, we will analyse the the data taken from the European Social Survey questionnaire Round 6 and, in particular, the challenges posed by the English-to-Polish translation of verbal scales.

2. The potential of corpus linguistics and lexical databases to assist questionnaire design: Results of two case studies
Ms Ana Slavec (University of Ljubljana)
Mr Vasja Vehovar (University of Ljubljana)

In this paper, we explore to what extent corpus linguistics and lexical databases can help improve question wording, in particular in cross-language research. We use two web surveys as case studies, the survey of international exchange students at different European universities and the WageIndicator survey on working conditions and wages. In both survey we limit only on two languages, English and the Slovenian translation. We evaluated question wordings in both surveys using language corpora and the WordNet lexical database and conducted split-ballot experiments to compare less familiar (less frequent) and more familiar (more frequent) wordings.

3. The Translation Management Tool (TMT) – one platform for carrying out and steering the workflow of questionnaire translations in cross-national surveys
Ms Brita Dorer (GESIS-Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Mr Maurice Martens (CentERdata)

The Translation Management Tool (TMT) is an online service for supporting questionnaire translation processes for large multilingual surveys. It has been available since 2004 for SHARE and then adapted to be useable also by surveys applying the so-called team approach or, as in the case of the ESS, the TRAPD scheme, consisting in a multi-step and multi-disciplinary translation strategy. Furthermore, the TMT has been refined to become part of a series of 3 tools, managing questionnaire design, translation and providing a multilingual and multi-project question and variable database (the interplay being based on DDI standards).