Talking to the Test: Translation or Transadaptation?

There’s a reason why people use the phrase “lost in translation.” Often, there’s more than one path to achieve a good translation, and rarely is the path a straight one. As translators, we have to navigate carefully so we don’t lose our way.

Sometimes, we need to use alternate routes to convey meaning from one language to another. Here are some road signs that keep us from getting “lost in translation”:

  • Translation
  • Transadaptation
  • Localization

In the world of language assessment, transadaptation is an important road sign to have on the map.

What is transadaptation?

transadaptation video

Video credit: This video shows images and text from Common Core en Español.
Common Core State Standards Spanish Language Version © Copyright 2013.
San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, California. All rights reserved.

Victory has been translating high-stakes and formative assessments into Spanish for many years. Here’s a quick road map to get you started.

TRANSLATION:
Good translation requires understanding the language within the culture. It’s not just about what it says; it’s also about what it means.

TRANSADAPTATION:
Transadaptation is like fitting a round peg in a square hole. It is a balancing act of staying true to the intended purpose while preserving accuracy and authenticity.

LOCALIZATION:
In order to be understood, it’s important to know who you’re talking to. There are as many variations of Spanish as countries that speak it. Knowing the target audience is key.

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One thought on “Talking to the Test: Translation or Transadaptation?

  1. I have worked on translations and transadaptations as a bilingual editor, and in my humble opinion, it is always best to write content in the target language in the first place. Transadaptation would be next in preference with translation coming in last. English is a markedly idiomatic language which can make translating it a nightmare. For example, in a translation from English to Spanish for a reading passage if a character “hits it out of the ballpark”, a direct translation will indeed make no sense to the Spanish reader if the passage is not about a character in a baseball game.
    Localization is sometimes needed but if a “standard” or “universal” Spanish is used, the reader should know that “autobús” is a bus, even if he normally uses “guagua”. Finally, sometimes the English word will be a word that is easily read (tier 1 or 2 word), but the translated word in Spanish may be a word that is at a much higher level (tier 3 word). Thus, again the Spanish reader is at a disadvantage with a straight translation of that particular word.

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