Diamond Translation

As we have seen in previous entires, translation theory often uses metaphors to describe translation, the translation process and sometimes even translation quality. An interesting metaphor is comparing translation and translation quality assessment to the analysis of diamonds.

The quality of diamonds is usually assessed according to the system most commonly known as the four Cs:


Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, colour refers to the diamond’s hue, clarity refers to the number of defects within the diamond, and cut refers to the way in which a polished diamond is created from a rough stone.

These four Cs could easily be superimposed onto a matrix for translation quality assessment where:

carat = information
colour = style
clarity = fluency
cut = accuracy

This gives us a neat guide for quickly analysing the quality of a translation. Thus, a good translation should contain and will be marked by high quality in each of these categories. In other words, the translation will contain:

(1) relevant information
(2) appropriate style/register
(3) fluent language (without errors)
(4) accurate, polished language


13 Responses to “Diamond Translation”

  1. rafuzar Says:

    Interesting idea. Short and sweet. I like it and I may even put it to use in my work.

  2. transubstantiation Says:

    The more metaphors translators are able to use to discuss and describe their trade, the better it is for everyone.

  3. Madzia Says:

    I must say that I didn’t think about translation in this way as it is here written. Comparing translation to the diamond’s categories sounds like something new and worth trying to make use of. Thanks!

  4. transubstantiation Says:

    A translated text must ‘shine’ and in this sense the diamond metaphor seems fitting.

  5. Iwona Wisniewska Says:

    Hmm… this is a completely different approach to translating. A compact reminder for the translators. Simplicity is the key I would say;)

  6. transubstantiation Says:

    In what way is it different?

  7. Pawel Ochmanski Says:

    It is an interesting metaphor indeed. And if it is true that diamonds are forever (according to a famous slogan promoted by De Beers) so, by analogy, an outstanding translation is timeless as well. Considering sublime translation of poetry done by Barańczak I’d say we can reach immortality.

  8. transubstantiation Says:

    Pefection is, of course, only relative.

  9. Kasia Jabłońska Says:

    I like the comparison very much. It will be easier for me to remember how to check a translation if I keep in my mind diamond’s category. As Marylin Monroe said, “Diamonds are a girl’s best frind.”

  10. transubstantiation Says:

    The measure of quality should be a translator’s best friend.

  11. agata Says:

    Great and very interesting comparison!!I have never heard of it before,but it shows qualities of translation in an artistic way. I like it veeeery much!!

  12. transubstantiation Says:

    the more we describe and explain, the easier it is to understand the whole process.

  13. Kierra Says:

    This has made my day. I wish all potgniss were this good.

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