Version 2021


Section 1. Target Language Mechanics

  • The following errors clearly violate one or more rules that prescribe the “correct” written forms of the Target Language (e.g., grammar and spelling).
  • For errors that affect (distort) the reader’s understanding of facts/ideas in the source text, see Section 2 (Meaning Transfer).
  • For errors that do not overtly violate any rules but still “sound wrong,” see Section 3 (Writing Quality).

Grammar (G):

A grammar error occurs when a sentence in the translation violates the grammatical rules of the target language. Grammar errors include lack of agreement between subject and verb, incorrect verb inflections, and incorrect declension of nouns, pronouns, or adjectives. NOTES: (a) In applicable cases, the G error should be subcategorized as syntax (SYN) or word form/part of speech (WF/PS); see explanations below. (b) If a verb form is grammatically possible in the sentence but changes the meaning of the source text because of its tense, aspect, mood, etc., the category verb form (VF) should be used; see explanation in Section 2 (Meaning Transfer).

Syntax (SYN):
A syntax error occurs when the arrangement of words or other elements of a sentence does not conform to the syntactic rules of the target language. Errors in this category include improper modification, lack of parallelism, unnatural word order, and runon structure. If incorrect syntax changes or obscures the meaning, the error is more serious and may be classified as a different type of error using the Flowchart and Framework. NOTE: In the Framework grid, the SYN error is a subcategory of Grammar (G) errors.

Word Form / Part of Speech (WF/PS):
A word form error occurs when the root of the word is correct, but the form of the word (e.g. number or case of noun or pronoun) is incorrect or nonexistent in the target language (e.g., “tooths,” or “conspiration” instead of “conspiracy”). A part of speech error occurs when the grammatical form (adjective, adverb, verb, etc.) is incorrect (e.g., “a conspire” instead of “a conspiracy”). NOTE: In the Framework grid, the WF/PS error is a subcategory of Grammar (G) errors.

Spelling (SP) / Character (CH) for non-alphabetic languages:
A spelling/character error occurs when a word or character in the translation is spelled/used incorrectly according to targetlanguage conventions. A spelling/character error that causes confusion about the intended meaning is more serious and may be classified as a different type of error, using the Flowchart and Framework. If a word has alternate acceptable spellings, the candidate should be consistent throughout the passage. NOTE: In applicable cases, the SP/CH error should be subcategorized as capitalization (C) or diacritical marks (D), as in the Framework; see explanations below.

Capitalization (C):
A capitalization error occurs when the conventions of the target language concerning upper and lower-case usage are not followed.

Diacritical Marks / Accents (D):
A diacritical marks error occurs when the targetlanguage conventions of accents and diacritical marks are not followed. If incorrect or missing diacritical marks obscure meaning (sense), the error is more serious.

Punctuation (P):
A punctuation error occurs when the conventions of the target language regarding punctuation are not followed, including those governing the use of quotation marks, commas, semicolons, and colons. Incorrect or unclear paragraphing is also counted as a punctuation error. NOTE: If a punctuation choice creates ambiguity or changes meaning, it constitutes a transfer error; see categories above.

Other Errors:
For target-language errors that do not clearly fit the descriptions above, use the category OTH-ME or see Section 3 (Writing Quality).


Section 2. Meaning Transfer

  • The following errors affect (distort) the reader’s understanding of facts/ideas in the source text and/or the original author’s evaluation of them.
  • For errors that do not affect understanding but “sound wrong,” see Section 3 (Target Language Mechanics).

Transfer Errors at the Word/Phrase Level

Addition (A):
An addition error occurs when the translator introduces superfluous elements of meaning, including aspects of tone (irony, intensification, etc.). Candidates should generally resist the tendency to insert “clarifying” material. Explicitation is permissible. Explicitation is defined as “A translation procedure where the translator introduces precise semantic details into the target text for clarification or due to constraints imposed by the target language that were not expressed in the source text, but which are available from contextual knowledge or the situation described in the source text” (Jean Delisle, Translation Terminology, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1991 p. 139).

Omission (O):
An omission error occurs when one or more elements of meaning in the ST are left out of the TT. This covers not only textual information but also the author's tone (irony, intensification, etc.). Implicitation is permissible. Implicitation is defined as “A translation procedure intended to increase the economy of the TT and achieved by not explicitly rendering elements of information from the ST in the TT when they are evident from the context or the described situation and can be readily inferred by speakers of the TL” (Translation Terminology, p. 145). For more substantial omissions, see below under Unfinished (UNF) in this section.

Terminology (T):
A terminology error occurs in a general text when the candidate chooses a content word or phrase (noun, verb, modifier) with an incorrect or inappropriate meaning in relation to the source text. The T error also applies when a term appropriate to a specific subject field is not used when the corresponding term is used in the source text. NOTES: (a) If the erroneous word or term is based on the choice of a target-language cognate that has a different meaning, the subcategory Faux Ami (FA) may be used; see below. (b) If the word choice violates conventions of collocation (e.g., subject-verb or adjective-noun combinations that are specific to the target language), then a usage (U) error may be marked. See Section 3 (Writing Quality).

Faux Ami (FA):
A faux ami error occurs when words of similar form but dissimilar meaning across the language pair are confused. Faux amis, also known as false friends, are words in two or more languages that probably are derived from similar roots and that have very similar or identical forms, but that have different meanings, at least in some contexts.

Verb Form (VF):
A verb form error occurs when the translation includes a verb in a grammatically possible form (as to person, number, gender, tense, mood, aspect, etc.) that conveys a meaning different from that of the source text. Examples: (a) “I lived here for 20 years” instead of “I have lived here for 20 years.” (b) “When he arrived, she made tea,” where “When he arrived, she was making tea” is meant, or (c) “It is difficult to succeed,” for “It would be difficult to succeed.” NOTE: If a verb is incorrectly inflected (for person, number, gender, etc.), use G (Grammar) instead; see explanations in Section 2 (Target Language Mechanics).


Transfer Errors That Can Apply to Various Levels

Ambiguity (AMB):
An ambiguity error occurs when either the source or target text segment allows for more than one semantic interpretation, where its counterpart in the other language does not.

Cohesion (COH):
A cohesion error occurs when a text is hard to follow because of inconsistent use of structural elements such as terminology, pronouns, inappropriate or missing conjunctions, etc. Cohesion is the network of lexical, grammatical, logical and other relations that provide links between various parts of a text, assisting the reader in navigating the text. Although cohesion is a feature of the text as a whole, graders will mark errors for individual elements that disrupt cohesion.

Faithfulness (F):
A faithfulness error occurs when the target text does not respect the meaning of the source text as much as possible. Candidates are asked to translate the meaning and intent of the source text, not to rewrite it or improve upon it. The grader will carefully compare the translation to the source text. If a “creative” rendition changes the meaning, an error will be marked. If recasting a sentence or paragraph—i.e., altering the order of its major elements—destroys the flow, changes the emphasis, or obscures the author’s intent, an error may be marked.

Literalness (L):
A literalness error occurs when a translation that follows the source text word for word results in an awkward and/or unidiomatic rendition—for example, “reductions of taxes of income” instead of “income tax reductions.” NOTES: (a) A “literal” translation of just one word that results in incorrect meaning (e.g., “actually” for French actuellement) is a Terminology error (optional subcategory FA; see the subsection Transfer Errors at the Word/Phrase Level above). (b) A word-for-word rendition of a phrase that sounds awkward but does not change meaning–for example, “reductions of taxes on income” instead of “income tax reductions”—is a Usage error; see Section 3 (Writing Quality).

Misunderstanding (MU):
A misunderstanding error occurs when the translation clearly results from a misinterpreted word or idiom, or the incorrectly parsed structure of a phrase or sentence.

Indecision (IND):
An indecision error occurs when the candidate gives more than one option for a given translation unit. Graders will not choose the right word for the candidate. Even if both options are correct, an error will be marked. More points will be deducted if one or both options are incorrect. NOTE: Inconsistent translations of a term or phrase at different points in the passage may constitute a Cohesion error (see above).

Unfinished (UNF):
A substantially unfinished passage (more than a full sentence missing at the end) is not graded. Missing titles, headings, or sentences within a passage may be marked as one or more errors of omission, depending on how much is missing (see Omission in this section).

Other Meaning Transfer Errors (OTH-MT):
Use this category only if meaning is affected and only if no other descriptions above apply. If meaning is not affected, see Section 3 (Writing Ability).


Section 3. Writing Ability

  • The following are target-language errors that do not clearly violate rules of spelling, grammar or punctuation, but detract from the quality of the translation with nonidiomatic, inappropriate or unclear wording/phrasing.


Usage (U):
A usage error occurs when conventions of wording or phrasing in the target language are not followed (“We don’t say it that way”). Correct and idiomatic usage of the target language is expected. This category includes definite/indefinite articles, idiomatic use of prepositions (e.g., “married to,” not “with”), and collocations (“committed a crime,” rather than “performed a crime”). NOTES: (a) When a Usage error is due to “word-for-word” translation and extends longer than a phrase, it may be subcategorized as Literalness (L); see below. (b) If incorrect usage ends up changing the meaning (e.g., “She took a train in Berlin,” when “to Berlin” is meant), then go to Section 2 (Meaning Transfer). Similarly, an incorrect collocation that changes the reader’s understanding (e.g., “He illustrated the conclusion” rather than “He drew the conclusion”) is a meaning transfer error.

Text Type (TT):
A text type error occurs when some component of the translation is either inappropriate for the implied target audience of an exam passage (educated monolingual speakers of the target language) or fails to comply with specifications stated in the Translation Instructions (TIs). For example, if the TIs specify that the largest city in Vietnam should be rendered as “Ho Chi Minh City,” it is a TT error to use the former name “Saigon.”

The TT category also includes the subcategories of Register and Style:

Register (R):
A register error occurs when the language level or degree of formality is not appropriate for the implied target audience of the exam passage. (e.g., In an academic textbook: “Some years, El Niño comes on with a vengeance” instead of “occurs with particular intensity").

Style (ST):
A style error occurs when choices of grammatical structure or other elements are inappropriate for the type of publication or other functional use specified by the TIs. Examples: (a) step-by-step instructions: if the target language typically uses infinitive verb forms, then the use of imperative verbs is an ST error; (b) numerals: e.g., “39 thousand” is standard in some languages, but not in English.

Illegibility (ILL):
(Handwritten exams only) An illegibility error occurs when graders cannot read what the candidate has written. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the graders can clearly discern what is written. Candidates are instructed to use pen or dark pencil and to write firmly enough to produce legible photocopies. Deletions, insertions, and revisions are acceptable if they do not make the intent unclear.