Lost in Translation


    Translation quality is an important challenge for both professional translators and all who study translation. What is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ translation? How can we judge if one translation is better than another, or rank translations objectively?​

    The translation industry and academics have traditionally approached these questions in very different ways. In the industry, judgments about quality need to be made constantly, quickly, cheaply and effectively, for complex texts and across hundreds of languages. But academic researchers have usually developed their theories and models based on short texts in a few European languages, with no access to information about conditions of production.​

    Contrary to this traditional approach, Dr Jo Drugan’s research shows for the first time how translation quality is assessed and improved in the ‘real world’.​

    Dr Drugan spent over a decade investigating how the industry approaches translation quality. She visited hundreds of translation providers, from individual freelance translators working from home, to the biggest translation provider in the world, the Directorate General for Translation at the European Commission. As a result she has been able to provide an alternative, practical way of understanding translation quality.​

    This led Dr Drugan to focus on a related question: what happens when high-quality translation is not available? She now trains professionals who work with translators and interpreters, such as social workers and medics, to improve their effectiveness in communicating with their clients and service users.​

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    My research to date has been on translation quality, with a particular focus on professional approaches, translation technologies and ethics. I am now working on a large-scale project to understand ‘gaps’ in translation in UK maternity settings. 

    Jo Drugan​

    Senior Lecturer in Applied Translation Studies​
    Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies​


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