Research studies

A Translation Quality Assessment of Two Arabic Translations of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery Based on House’s Model


Prepared by the researcher  :  Mohammed Najeeb, Senior Lecturer, – School of Foundation Studies (SoFS) – The National University of Science & Technology (NUST) – Muscat, Oman.

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies : Twenty-Second Issue – January 2022

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
 ISSN  2625-8943

Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies

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Translation quality assessment (TQA) is a growing sub-field in Translation Studies. In order to assess the translation quality of two Arabic translations of Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery”, this study applies House’s (1997) TQA model. Following that model, the errors are highlighted and classified into covert and overt errors; then the frequency of the errors’ occurrences is computed. House states in her model that literary text has to be overtly translated and deviations will be considered as errors. Consequently overt errors are divided into seven subcategories: 1) Not Translated; 2) Slight Change in Meaning; 3) Significant Change in Meaning; 4) Distortion of Meaning; 5) Breach of the Source Language System; 6) Creative Translation; and 7) Cultural Filtering.

  1. Introduction

Translation is a human activity. Richards, I. A. (qtd in Akan,2019) remarks, “Translation probably is the most complex type of event yet produced in the evolution of the cosmos”. Like any other human activity, translation evolves and is influenced by various factors that impact man, including the language he speaks. In addition, translation studies is not a totally new phenomenon. Cicero had his approach when translation Aeschines and Demosthenes :” I did not translate them as an interpreter, but as an orator, keeping the same ideas and forms ,or as one might say, the ‘figures’ of thought ,but in language which conforms to our usage .And in so doing ,I did not hold it necessary to render word for word ,but I preserved the general style and force of the language . (Cicero, qtd. in Hatim, and Munday, 2004:19) Horace, Quintilian and St. Jerome did the same because they were interested in producing an aesthetically and creative text in the TL. John Dryden came in the 7th century with his trichotomy on translation types (metaphrase, paraphrase and imitation). He negates metaphrase (word-for-word) for lacking fluency or easy readability and imitation as well, that adapt the foreign text so as to serve the translator’s own literary ambitions; instead he is in favour of paraphrase or translation with latitude, which seeks to render meanings (Venuti .2004, p. 17-18). Romanticism discussed the issue of translatability and untranslatability. The German translator Friedrich Schleiermacher argues that the real question is how to bring the ST writer and the TT reader together, adding “Either the translator leaves the writer alone as much as possible and moves the reader towards the writer or he leaves the reader alone as much as possible and moves the writer towards the reader (qtd in In Munday, 2001, p. 28).The German literary and philosophical traditions and hermeneutics affected the translation studies in the first decades of the 20th century. It was believed that language is not communicative, but constitutive in its representations of thought and reality. Consequently translation was seen as an interpretation which necessarily reconstitutes and transforms the foreign text. (Venuti, 71) At the end of the 1930s, translation is viewed as a separate linguistic practice, a literary genre apart, with its own norms and ends (Ortega y Gasset, 1992, p. 109). Translatability prevailed in the next two decades .The linguists and literary critics were busy discussing ideas to use translation to minimize the differences that separate the languages and culture (Venuti. P.111). Equivalence took over in the 1960s to 1970s. Translation was seen as a process of communicating the ST via the creation of a relationship of identity with the ST. Translation was seen in the 1980s as an independent form of writing, distinct from the source text and that texts originally written in the translating language (Ibid.221). Translation studies in 1990s became a purely separate discipline due to wide scholar attempts as well as translator training programs across the world and textbooks to students in translation programs. (Venuti p. 326). This decade witnessed the incorporation of various schools and concepts, including the Canadian-based translation and gender research, postcolonial translation theory, along with the cultural studies oriented analysis of Lawrence Venuti, who champions the cause of the translator (Munday, 2001, p. 14). In this decade, translation research progresses with an amalgam of theories and methodologies being prevalent in the previous decade, pursuing trends in such disciplines as (polysystem, skopos and poststructuralism) and also developments in linguistics (pragmatics, critical discourse analysis and computerized corpora) and in literary and cultural theory (postcolonialism, sexuality, globalization (ibid: 325).

  1. Theoretical Framework

2.1Translation Studies: A House of Too Many Rooms

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (Baker 1998) defines ‘Translation Studies’ as “[…] the academic discipline which concerns itself with the study of translation”. Emerging in the 1970s, developing in the 1980s, and flourishing in the 1990s (Bassnett 1999: 214), TS has enormously evolved and “it is now understood to refer to the academic discipline concerned with the study of translation at large, including literary and nonliterary translation” (Baker 1998: 277). The term ‘Translation Studies’ was coined by the scholar J.S. Holmes in his paper, “The Name and Nature of Translation Studies”, presented in 1972 at the Third International Congress of Applied Linguistics in Copenhagen, and published in 1988. As Snell-Hornby affirmed that TS must embrace “[…] the whole spectrum of language, whether literary, ‘ordinary’ or ‘general language’, or language for special purposes” (Snell-Hornby 1988: 3). Hatim said that TS is the discipline “[…] which concerns itself with the theory and practice of translation” (Hatim 2001: 3), in Translating Text and Context we deal with both.

2.2House’s TQA Model

Based on Hallidayan Systemic Functional Theory, Prague school ideas, speech act theory                                   ,  pragmatics, discourse analysis and corpus-based distinctions between the spoken and written language, House developed a functional-pragmatic model for assessing translation quality in 1977/ 1997, focusing on a comparison between the ST and TT. In this way she “rejected” the ‘more target-audience oriented notion of translation appropriateness’ as ‘fundamentally misguided’ and considered the right way to achieve a good assessment of translation is through ST-TT comparison (Munday, 2001:92). She provided in 1981 an application of the concept of register to translation was provided by House, showing how register parameters, like medium and social role relationship, support the two major text functions (ideational: conveying ideas, and interpersonal: relating author, text and reader) and how to base a translation not only on a semantic match but also on register match/mismatch. House’s model enables us to analyse and compare an original text and its translation on three different levels: Language/ Text, Register (Field, Mode and Tenor) and Genre. Tenor refers to the participants, their nature, who addresses whom, and the relationship between them in terms of social power” (House, 1997:108). The mode, representing the channel through which the communication is carried out, identifies the degree of participation of the reader in the text, and domain which generally links in some way between function and genre (Baker, 2001:123-4). House (1997:39-42) proposes, for the purpose of translation quality assessment, a model called situational dimensions model on the basis of which the quality of translations can be assessed.

  1. Dimensions of Language User:
  2. Geographical Origin
  3. Social Class
  4. Time
  5. Dimensions of Language Use:
  6. Medium {Simple Complex}
  7. Participation {Simple Complex}
  8. Social Role Relationship
  9. Social Attitude
  10. Province

Figure 1.A scheme for analysing and comparing original and translation texts

For the purpose of adopting functional equivalence in translation texts, House (1997) proposed the overt/covert translation strategies. Overt translation strategy might be thought of as preserving a source culture or its features in the translation texts (House, 1997, p. 67).On the other hand, covert translation strategy refers to how the ST matches the TT in terms of functional meanings and lexical meanings (House, 2003).  Covert and overt translation include almost all existing texts. Covert translation includes business circulars, scientific texts, journalistic texts, advertisements and information booklets. On the other hand overt translation includes political, simplified, literary, religious texts, etc.

2.3Previous Studies

According to Williams (2001), concern for excellence in translation, especially translation of literary and religious works, has existed for long time. Several researchers used House’s model to analyze the quality of translation of literary works. Gehrmann (2011) used the TQA model proposed by House to assess Swedish translation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. He concludes that “The model for translation quality assessment proposed by House has proved to be very useful. It works very well on a very limited number of pages, but it would however be nearly impossible to use it on a complete novel with hundreds of pages.” An application of the model on Shakespeare’s Macbeth found that the application of House’s TQA model on such type of literary work indicates that this “particular work did not abide by the hypothesis stated in the model.” But the study asserts that these results show the strength of the model (Yamni & Abdi 2010). Safa Hassan Al Haddad (2019) applied the 2015 version of the model on Morrison’s novel Beloved.  The researcher found that the use of the model revealed a number of mismatches which have changed the interpersonal functional component resulting in a low quality translation. Shabnam Shakerina (2014) applied House’s model on a translation of Steinbeck’s short story (sic) Grapes of Wrath. The researcher concluded that Short stories are preferred to be covertly translated. Esmail Faghih and Morvarid Jaza’el (2015) applied the model on two translations of some poems of the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. The researchers found that “using this model of analysis, students of translation studies can learn how to analyse ST and TT in order to evaluate the quality of the translated text.” They think that theory is as important as practice in translations studies. They added that using the model “Can give an insight in teaching translation because it offers the characteristics of the ST and TT languages.” The same model was applied on two translations of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Ghafouripour & Eslamieh 2018). The researchers found that “House’s model of TQA is applicable and useful in the field of translation pf poetry for both translators and students of translating (sic) studies.” Daniel Valles (2014) applied House’s model on an episode of The Simpsons, a famous animated US-American TV series. He found that the model is suitable for humorous text. He also noted that the model “is not able to provide a final, objective assessment of the quality of a translation’ believing that “this is a common to non-quantitative assessment models, “concluding that the “perceived limitations of the model are generic to any type of the texts and not specific to the assessment of humorous texts.” Yang, Tsu-Yen (2017) uses House’s model to assess the quality of two Chinese translations of The Vampyre. The researcher employed overt and covert translation strategies together in translating certain passages into traditional Chinese, in order to make the translated texts understandable and comprehensible to target readers. “Hence, target readers are able to experience something feared and then conquered through The Vampyre.” Tannaz Alavipour and Iraj Noroozi (2020) reached a conclusion that “The Persian translation of the book “The Graveyard” by Obeydi Ashtiani, doesn’t conform to House’s model of TQA, due to some errors in lexical, syntactic and textual means which make the translated text to be far from the original text and leads the translation to the covert one. They think that,” In this kind of translation, the culture filter was required, where an adaptation into the target culture was needed. “Dr. Kawkab Salim Mohammed (2017) examines the vitality of House’s (1997) notions of overt and covert translation using the cultural filter in literary translation from Arabic into English on a corpus of data taken from Najeeb Mahfouz’s ‟ Midaq Alley ‟ and its English translation by Trevor Le Gassick. Bashar Al Ukaily (2011) concluded that when translators adopt different translation strategies produce different versions of the same ST. He thinks that “translation quality assessment is a very useful and fruitful field of study”. He added that conducting more studies will lay the foundation for more objective assessment of the quality of translation.

  1. Research Question

The main question of the study is: what is the quality of the two Arabic translations by Dr Iqbal Mohammed Ali and Omar Abdulghafour of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery?

  1. Method

In my paper on the quality of the two Arabic translations of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery I have chosen to look closer at the first seven paragraphs of the story, avoiding as much as possible the dialogues.

The model works as follows: A profile is produced of the ST Register, along with a description of the ST genre realized by the Register. This is followed by a ‘Statement of function’ for the ST. The statement includes the ideational and interpersonal component of that function. The same procedure is applied on the TT. The two profiles are compared and a statement of ‘mismatches’ or errors is produced. The errors are categorized according to the situational dimensions of Register and genre. Such dimensional errors are labelled as ‘covertly erroneous errors’, which falls into denotative mismatches and target system errors. Finally, a quality statement is then made of the translation.

  1. Results

5.1 Analysis of “The Lottery”

5.1.1 FIELD

It is important to understand why the story engendered an expected avalanche of anger when it appeared in the June 26, 1948 issue of The New Yorker. The setting for the story, a gathering in a small rural village, wasn’t totally fictional to Americans, especially those living in the countryside, in the summer of 1948. Many of them identified directly with the opening paragraphs, chosen for the study, and describing the preparations for the summertime gatherings .Such gatherings were familiar to encourage people get together, socialize and show support for each other. Such gatherings featured many activities, including lotteries. So the scene was immediately recognizable to rural readers in particular when the story was published, but they did not like the way that this particular story developed and concluded because they thought it was attacking the values of rural communities and “small town America.”(See Ferry & Norman 2019)

The short story is a fictional prose narrative written in a plain, emotionless and observed prose that help the readers visualize exactly what kind of atmosphere the village was in. The author uses simple, mostly descriptive and general vocabulary with very few connotations, top of these is the lottery itself. We find examples of lexical repetitions, especially the article “the” (“The Lottery “, “the morning of June 27th”, “the fresh warmth of a full-summer day”, “the flowers” “the children,”, “the men,” and “the women”, a lot of verbs (mostly intransitive and action verbs), nouns (mostly concrete), lesser adjectives but few adverbs. At the syntactic level the chosen paragraphs contains long sentences (for example the first paragraph contains two sentences and the second three sentences) with subordination and nesting. Semicolons are used to punctuate long sentences: “The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26th, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took only about two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” Iconic linkage, (The people …began …The children assemble…. The girls stood …The men began… The women came…The villagers kept ….The black box grew…) theme-rheme, repetition of lexical items, anaphoric reference (Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him, because he had no children and his wife was a scold. When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called, “Little late today, folks.”) , opposites (Male and female, child and adult, individual and communal, the picturesque setting the horrific conclusion) and clausal linkage (where, so, when, but) all give the text cohesion and makes it easy to read and understand.

5.1.2 Tenor

Shirley Jackson uses temporally unmarked US-American Standard English. Geographically and socially we are in a small village of “a population of more than three hundred.”

Shirley Jackson’s attitude towards the brutal, uncivilized tradition of the lottery in the village is negative and implicating. The villagers are presented as being ignorant, heartless and violent as they mindlessly accept the tradition of stoning a random innocent. She looks with ridicule at the villagers and their world. “Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult”, she wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle in July 1948 “I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” (Bloom.2001.PP 33) Examples of this attitude could be seen in way women are presented in the story .They are made visible only when they stand by their husbands “Soon the women, standing by their husbands” “The women, came shortly after their menfolk”, “…they went to join their husbands”. Another example is that the villagers had forgotten exactly why they do the lottery every year, but they do not forget the way they are supposed to murder someone. “Forgotten the ritual… they still remembered to use stones” Indeed the reader starts to feel more and more uncomfortable, whereas the commonplace attitude of the villagers remains even during the stoning of Mrs. Hutchinson. They are unaffected by the outcome except for the victim of their collaborate murder. Indeed, after the end of the first round, Mrs. Delacroix asked Mrs. Hutchinson to be a good sport ,” All of us took the same chance.”

Indeed, near the end, one of the women casually tells the victim to be a “good sport “as they slaughter her with stones.

Syntactically speaking Jackson decorated her story with declarative/dialogue structures along with lively descriptions. The use of iconic linkages controls the text: (The morning…the people…the children…the villagers…the girls…. the men…the women…)

The social role relationship between the addresser and addressees is asymmetrical. We find a third person narrator who remains in the background, completely unmeddling and in spite of his omniscient point of view he maintains a completely self-effacing tone throughout the entire story. In spite of that and the peaceful mood created about the village especially at the beginning of the story, everyone commits a brutal act by stoning an innocent person. A deeper interpretation is created because of this paradox.

At the lexical level the story is told through simple language with ordinary vocabulary, mostly concrete nouns and action verbs. We notice the absence of first and second person pronouns except in the dialogues that controls the second part of the story. The author most often talks about the village, the people or the villagers, sometimes the family, the children, the men, the women and other villages. We could spot foregrounded, rhematic structure:” Soon the men began to gather (…) They stood together (…) They greeted on another.

The text is formal in style. It lacks the use of interjections, qualifying adverbials and expressions and other subjectivity markers. The text is also characterized by the use of complex sentences with long clauses and many subordination and appositional constructions. The rhematic structures and the passive voice adds more formality to the text.


The text is written to be read; so the medium is simple. As we said we don’t have interjections and subjectivity markers. It is also marked by the absence of elliptical clauses, contractions and discourse particles. The text is emic with no clear reference to the author and readers. As far as participation is considered the text is complex as it addresses a large community (the readers).


The Lottery is a dystopian short story as indicated by the author herself and all criticism written about the story.

5.2 Statement of Function

The Lottery has both an ideational and an interpersonal function , which is the aim of Jackson herself “I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” This is what Shirley Jackson wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle after one month of the publication of the story and receiving as an average of 10-12 letters a day full of “bewilderment, speculation, and plain old-fashioned abuse.” As far as Field is concerned the first function (ideational) is characterized by complex synaptic structures and strong cohesion. The second function could be seen in the simple vocabulary. On Tenor both functions could be seen in the author’s stance and the social role relationship and social attitude. When it comes to Mode ideational function is seen in the emic character of the text.

5.3Comparison of Original and Translation

A number of mismatches in the dimensions of FIELD and TENOR have been found after analysing the ST and TT. A number of Overt Errors have been spotted.


Focusing on parts of speech in ST and the two selected TT, it is clear that we have mismatches. (First paragraph is analysed as a sample)

  • Nouns in ST: 27
  • Verbs in ST: 9
  • Nouns in TT1: 38
  • Verbs in TT1: 8
  • Nouns in TT2: 40
  • Verbs in TT2: 13

It is clear that both TTs use more nouns and verbs, but it noticeable that both TTs use less words in translating the first paragraph of the origin (TT1 used 96, TT2 105 words in comparison to 117 words in ST.)

كان صباح السابع والعشرين من حزيران صافياً ومشمساً، مليئا بالدفء مثل إي يوم صيفي، كانت الأزهار مشذبة بعناية، والمروج زاهية الاخضرار. بدأ أهل القرية في التجمع في الساحة بين مكتب البريد والمصرف، في حوالي الساعة العاشرة، في بعض البلدات المكتظة بالسكان، قد تستغرق عملية سحب اليانصيب يومين لهذا كان لزاما إن تبدأ في السادس والعشرين من حزيران. اما في هذه القرية حيث يبلغ عدد سكانها ثلاثمائة نسمة، فإن عملية اليانصيب كانت لتستغرق أقل من ساعتين، ولذا فهو يبدأ في الساعة العاشرة صباحاً وبعد الانتهاء من السحب يبقى الكثير من الوقت الذي يسمح للقرويين بالعودة لمنازلهم وتناول طعام الغذاء.

كانت السماء في صبيحة  يوم السابع والعشرين من حزيران، صافية مشمسة، تُبشر بيوم ٍ صيفيٍ دافئ…الأزهار متفتحة بصورة لم يسبق رؤيتها من قبل، والحشائش في غاية الخضرة. ابْتَدَأَ ابناء القرية، قرابة الساعة العاشرة صباحاً، التجمع بالتدريج في الساحة الواقعة بين بناية البريد والبنك.دَرَجَت القرى المجاورة، الأكثر عدداً في السكان، الشروع في التحضير للقُرعة السنوية، يوم 26 من الشهر. في هذه القرية التي لا يتجاوز سكانها الثلاثمائة شخصٍ لا تأخذ قُرعة اليانصيب، أكثر مِن ساعتين، يفتتحونها في الساعة العاشرة صباحا، كي يكون لديهم المتسع من الوقت للعودة إلى بيوتهم ظهراً، لتناول وجبة الغداء.

Syntactically speaking, it is clear that both TTs use more punctuation marks than ST.  If we take the second paragraph as an example of such mismatches ,the origin paragraph falls in three sentences with many punctuation marks (eight commas, three full stop, two semi colons, two dashes and the inverted commas is used once to highlight the way one name pronounced by the villagers). In comparison, semi colon is never used by both TTs, as TT 1 uses seven commas and six full stops, TT2 uses seven commas and three full stops, in addition to the brackets in two occasions and one colon. The translator of TT1 divided the second paragraph of ST into two paragraphs.  The semi colon is used in Arabic to separate two sentences in which one sentence is a cause and the other is a consequence and to separate sentences in which the meaning is complete but the sentences are linked with a certain preposition. It is felt that both translations do not pay attention to the rules of using punctuation marks in Arabic. For example we use the full stop to mark the end of a sentence. TT1 uses the full stop after بطبيعة الحال, which is not a sentence at all. The second translation uses the brackets with a name of a character whereas in Arabic the brackets are used to provide more information or explanation to the sentence. Usually any additional sentence (the one between brackets) can be removed from the sentence without affecting the meaning. It will be less nuanced, of course because there is a detail lost but the general meaning is still the same, which is not in our case.

TT1 بطبيعة الحال. تجمع الأطفال أولا، فقد انتهت الدراسة، وبدأت العطلة الصيفية. كان معظم الأطفال يتصرفون على سجيتهم، الصغار كانوا يميلون للتجمع بشكل مجموعات بهدوء لمدة قصيرة قبل أن يبدؤوا باللعب الصاخب. وكان مازال حديثهم يتمحور عن قاعات الدروس والمعلم والكتب والتأنيب والتوبيخ الذي لقوه خلال الفترة الدراسة.

ملء بوبي مارتن جيوبه بالحصى، وقد اتخذه الأولاد الآخرون قدوة لهم، في اختيار الحصى الناعم المدور. بوبي وهاري جونز وديكي ديلا كرويكز يلفظ القرويون اسمها ديلا كروكس في النهاية تجمعت كومة كبيرة من الحصى في إحدى زاويا الساحة وقام الأطفال بحراستها من غارات الأولاد الآخرين،تنحت الفتيات جانبا للحديث فيما بينهن وهن يلتفتن لينظرن إلى الأولاد،والأطفال الأصغر سنا كانوا قد تجمعوا بشكل حلقات ويلعبون بالتراب ويتعلقون بأيدي إخوانهم وأخواتهم الأكبر.

TT2 كالعادة،كان الأولاد أول من يَفِدَ إلى ميدان القرية للترويح عن أنفسهم بعد نهاية السنة الدراسية وبداية العطلة الصيفية وسرعان ما ينقلب تجمعهم الذي يسوده الهدوء في البداية، إلى لعب صاخب والمنافسة في التحدث عن صفوفهم الدراسية، عن المعلمة وعن الكتب والتوبيخ. شَرَع بوبي مارتن، بملء جيوبه بالحصى المدور الأملس وسرعان ما حذا بقية الأولاد،حذوه. هاري جونس وديكي( ديلاكروا) الذي ينطق القرويون اسمه بِ(ديلاكروي)، تمكنا من تكديس كومة كبيرة من الحصى في إحدى زوايا الساحة والوقوف لحراستها خوفاً من غارات بقية الأولاد. البنات، كُنّ يقفن جانباً، يتحدثن فيما بينهن وينظرن من وراء اكتافهن إلى الشباب. أما الأطفال الصغار، ترى البعض منهم متعلقاً بأيدي إخوانه أو أخواته والبعض الآخر يمرغ نفسه في التراب.

Finally, the cohesion of TTs is affected because of a number of textual mismatches e.g. in paragraph 3 the clause linkage (soon the men began to gather …Soon the women…) Both TTs use this clause linkage once only, with noticeable loss of the gerund phrases that characterized this paragraph as the author uses them in six occasions, compared to no gerund in paragraph one and two only in paragraph two.


On Tenor, the mismatches are linked to two dimensions: Author’s personal stance and social attitude. TTs added emotive lexical items “مليئاً ، تُبشر ،على سجيتهم،أتخذه الأولاد قدوة لهم ،و المنافسة في التحدث،لحراستها خوفاً،”   but they don’t pay attention to repetitions in the ST surveying…speaking…wearing…standing…having…laughing. The TTs are somewhat more literary (see the examples above) which engages further the readers but they widen the distance between them and the author. This engagement increase the degree of subjectivity.

5.3.3Overt Errors

By overtly erroneous errors, House (1977) means the mismatches of denotative meanings of the source text and target text and breaches of target language system. The overtly erroneous errors found in the TTs will be analysed, based on the following categories:

  1. Not translated
  2. Slight change in meaning
  3. Significant change in meaning
  4. Distortion of meaning
  5. Breach of the language system
  6. Creative translation
  7. Cultural filtering translated: This category includes not-translated words/expressions

  1. ST: The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day;
TT1 كان صباح السابع والعشرين من حزيران صافياً ومشمساً، مليئا بالدفء مثل إي يوم صيفي
TT2 كانت السماء في صبيحة يوم السابع والعشرين من حزيران، صافية مشمسة، تُبشر بيوم ٍ صيفيٍ دافئ

Discussion : The bolded word in the ST (fresh) has not been translated in both TT1 and TT2

  1. ST: School was recently over for the summer… Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example…Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix—the villagers pronounced this name “Dellacroy”—eventually…
TT1 فقد انتهت الدراسة، وبدأت العطلة الصيفية… ملء بوبي مارتن جيوبه بالحصى، وقد اتخذه الأولاد الآخرون قدوة لهم…بوبي وهاري جونز وديكي ديلا كرويكز يلفظ القرويون اسمها ديلا كروكس في النهاية تجمعت كومة كبيرة من الحصى في إحدى زاويا الساحة ….
TT2 … بعد نهاية السنة الدراسية وبداية العطلة الصيفية …. شَرَع بوبي مارتن، بملء جيوبه بالحصى المدور الأملس وسرعان ما حذا بقية الأولاد،حذوه. هاري جونس وديكي( ديلاكروا) الذي ينطق القرويون اسمه بِ(ديلاكروي)، تمكنا من تكديس كومة كبيرة من الحصى في إحدى زوايا الساحة…

Discussion: The bolded words in the ST (recently, already, soon, eventually) have not been translated in both TT1 and TT2. But TT2 was better in dealing with the second word (already) as it used another verb (in addition to the original one stuffed) to highlight the tense of the verb. Slight Change in Meaning

  1. ST: …. and the grass was richly green…
TT1 والمروج زاهية الاخضرار …
TT2 والحشائش في غاية الخضرة …

Discussion: Unfortunately TT1 has chosen a word which is not appropriate for grass of the ST. The chosen word means in Arabic vast land for various plants.

  1. ST: There were the lists to make up—of heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of each household in each family.
TT1 أعدت قوائم خاصة بالأسماء الرئيسية للعوائل واسم رب كل أسره وأسماء أفرادها.
TT2 إعداد قائمة بأرباب الأسر، قائمة بأرباب الأسرة الواحدة وقائمة بعدد أفراد كل أسرة.

Discussion: TT1 is more successful in highlighting the difference between families and households, using two word in Arabic. TT2 used only one word, adding confusing to the meaning. Significant Change in Meaning

  1. ST: …and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them;
TT1 كان معظم الأطفال يتصرفون على سجيتهم، …
TT2 … للترويح عن أنفسهم بعد نهاية السنة الدراسية وبداية العطلة الصيفية

Discussion: Both TT1 and TT2 failed to translate the exact meaning of the bolded words which mean that the children are yet to adjust to the recent feeling of liberty, in contrast to what they used to feel at school.

  1. ST: ……the flowers were blossoming profusely
TT1 كانت الأزهار مشذبة بعناية.
TT2 الأزهار متفتحة بصورة لم يسبق رؤيتها من قبل

Discussion: TT1 was unsuccessful in translating the bolded words .TT1 offers instead something that means “The flowers were carefully trimmed”; TT2 offers this translation “Flowers bloom like never before.” Distortion of Meaning

  1. ST: …there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory, tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year…

Discussion: Unfortunately

TT1 وفق لما يتذكر القرويون كان الشخص المسئول عن عملية السحب يلقي نشيد بدون لحن يقرأه بسرعة كنوع من الواجب.
TT2 يتذكر بعض الناس المراسيم القديمة التي كان يتوجب فيها على مسؤول اليانصيب كلّ سنةٍ، قراءة بعض الأناشيد الدينية غير المرتلة، المملة، المثيرة للأعصاب

Discussion: Both translations  failed to match the meaning of ST.

  1. ST: The girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys,
TT1 تنحت الفتيات جانبا للحديث فيما بينهن وهن يلتفتن لينظرن إلى الأولاد
TT2 البنات، كُنّ يقفن جانباً، يتحدثن فيما بينهن وينظرن من وراء اكتافهن إلى الشباب

Discussion: Both TT1 and TT2 failed to bring the exact meaning. Look over one’s shoulder means to worry or think about the possibility that something bad might happen, that someone will try to cause harm, etc. We don’t find this little fear in the translation.TT2 offered literal translation for the idiom, which sounds funny. Breach of the SL System

1. ST: Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones and the other boys soon followed his example…

TT1 ملأ بوبي مارتن جيوبه بالحصى وقد أتخذه الأولاد الأخرون قدوة لهم …
TT2 شرع بوبي مارتن بمليء جيوبه بالحصى … وسرعان ما حذا بقية الأولاد حذوه

Discussion: TT1 neglected the tense (past perfect) of the sentence.

  1. ST: The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man warner, the oldest man in town, was born.
TT1 فقدت العدة الأصلية الخاصة لسحبة اليانصيب منذ مدة طويلة، وحل محلها الصندوق الأسود الموجود على الكرسي،وكان الصندوق قديماً . حتى أنه فاق بالكبر أكبر رجال القرية عمراً مثل العجوز وارنر. ومازال هذا الصندوق يستخدم لحد الأن.
TT2 ضاعت المعدات الأصلية لليانصيب، منذ زمن طويل. أما الصندوق الأسود الحالي و المقعد الثلاثي الأرجل فزمنهما يعود الى ما قبل ولادة العجوز ورنر وكانت هناك مزاعم تقول ، …

Discussion: TT1 and TT2 did not pay attention to the presence of the past perfect tense, Creative Translation

1.ST:The lottery was conducted-as were the square dances, the teen-age club, the Halloween program-by Mr. Summers, who had time and energy to devote to civic activities.

TT1 يشرف السيد سمرز على الرقصات التربيعية ونادي المراهقين وكذلك برنامج الواحد و الثلاثين من تشرين الأول عيد القديسين بالإضافة الى إدارته عملية سحب اليانصيب لأمتلاكه الوقت و الطاقة وذلك لتفرغه ليدير مثل هذا النوع من النشاطات المدنية.
TT2 يشرف على قرعة اليانصيب (“السيد سمرس”) الذي وظف نفسه لخدمة الفعاليات الرسمية و الأجتماعية في القرية. تجرى قرعة اليانصيب عادة ،في ميدان القرية في ميدان القرية شأنها شأن الفعاليات الأخرى التي دأب (السيد سمرس ) على تنظيمها و الأشراف عليها ، بما في ذلك حفلات الرقص ، نادي المراهقين ويوم التنكر في عيد القديسين (الهلوين).

Discussion: Both translators used free translation in addressing the ST. Both added extra words/information which are not there in the ST.

  1. ST: The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands.
TT1 بطبيعة الحال ، تجمع الأطفال أولاً ، فقد أنتهت الدراسة وبدأت العطلة الصيفية. كان معظم الأطفال يتصرفون على سجيتهم، الصغار كانوا يميلون للتجمع بشكل مجموعات بهدوء لمدة قصيرة قبل أن يبدؤا باللعب الصاخب.وكان مازال حديثهم يتمحور عن قاعات الدروس والمعلم والكتب والتأنيب والتوبيخ الذي لقوه خلال الفترة الدراسة .
TT2 كالعادة، كان الأولاد أول من يفد الى ميدان القرية للترويح عن أنفسهم بعد نهاية السنة الدراسية وبداية العطلة الصيفية وسرعان ما ينقلب تجمعهم الذي يسوده الهدوء في البداية ، الى لعب صاخب والمنافسة في التحدث عن صفوفهم الدراسية ، وعن المعلمة وعن الكتب والتوبيخ.


Discussion: The underlined words were added by translators. They do not exist in the original text. Cultural Filtering

Both translations have issues with personal names. Personal names often constitute a major problem in translation. Peter Newmark (1988 P 214) holds that people’s names should, as a rule, not be translated when their names have no connotation in the text. Anthony Pym (2004 P.92) proposes that proper names, including personal names, not be translated. TT1 fails to realize that Delacroix is a French surname and Dickie Delacroix is a boy. TT2 fails in translating Summers and Graves, replacing the ending z sound in both with s sound.

1.ST …heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of each household in each family.

TT1 أعدت قوائم خاصة بالأسماء الرئيسية للعوائل واسم رب كل أسره وأسماء أفرادها.
TT2 إعداد قائمة بأرباب الأسر، قائمة بأرباب الأسرة الواحدة وقائمة بعدد أفراد كل أسرة.

Discussion: TT2 failed to highlight the difference between family and household, offering one word in Arabic for both.





2. ST: … —as were the square dances, the teen-age club, the Halloween program—


…على الرقصات التربيعية ونادي المراهقين وكذلك برنامج يوم الواحد والثلاثين من تشرين الأول عيد القديسين

TT2 …بما فيها حفلات الرقص، نادي المراهقين ويوم التنكر في عيد القديسين (الهلوين)

Discussion: A square dance means four couples dance in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square. Both translations failed to bring this meaning. TT1 used free translation and TT2 neglected the word square. They had different translations for the Halloween.

  1. Results and Conclusion:

House’s TQA Model (1997) was used to assess the quality of two translations for Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery”. It was mentioned that this model prefers using overt translation for literary works. Overt errors were highlighted in both translations in comparison with the source text. 

Table Shows frequency of overt errors in TT1 & TT2





Not translated


Slight change in meaning


Significant change in meaning


Distortion of meaning


Breach of the language system


Creative translation


Cultural filtering


TT 1 49 32 8 8 19 8 15 139
TT2 47 17 10 9 17 21 16 137

 The final stage of this assessment should present a qualitative judgement based on “the relative match of the ideational and the interpersonal functional components of the textual function” (House P 46)Not a scientific one, the final stage ,according to House  still provides the basis for evaluative judgement. House insists that the model does not provide a final evaluation because this might overlaps with objectivity. (ibid. P 119)  This admission is highlighted by the fact that literary texts, usually marked by high interpersonal function, are difficult to translate (Ibid P 75) which makes coming with a final objective evaluation more difficult.

The figures are very high in all categories. It is noticeable that TT1 has more instances of “slight change in meaning” than TT2, and the latter has more “creative translation’ instances than TT1.These indicate that both translators were preferring free translation approach. The figures in other categories are very close to each other. Based on the number of the overt errors spotted by the study in the first nine paragraphs of the story, one can say that both translations were not successful in creating the atmosphere we find in Jackson’s story; a festive one that gradually turns into uneasiness and ends into a very tragic one.

  1. Implications and further study:
  2. The results could be used by translators of literary works to revise their translations
  3. It could help translation students better analyze ST and TT to produce high quality translations. It can also help in teaching translation courses because it offers insights into the features of ST and TT
  4. It demonstrates, by offering empirical data, that House’s Model is useful in assessing translations of literary works.
  5. Further studies are required to see how the model works when applied on longer texts, such as the novel.


  1. All references to Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery are taken from the New Yorker‘s issue of June, 26, 1948
  2. All references to the translation of The Lottery done by Omar AbdulGhafour are taken from Azzaman Daily and the translation done by Iqbal Mohammed Ali to https://www.Al
  3. We have two translations for the title of the story: اليانصيب by Omar AbdulGhafour and القرعة by Iqbal Mohammed Ali. I prefer the second because the first is seen by many as a sort of gambling .See


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