Measuring the "Translation Effect" – An Innovative Application of Integrative Complexity

  1. Moore, J.
  2. McLellan, L.
  3. Suedfeld, P.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
This Technical Memorandum introduces Integrative Complexity (IC), a measure of cognitive structure drawn from the discipline of social psychology, and reports on the application of this technique to investigate the existence (or non-existence) of a translation effect—measurable, statistically-significant differences in cognitive structure—among various English translations of the same non-English-language source text. Specifically, the IC scoring method was used to score selected verses from the Qur’an relating to either one of two broad themes—“struggle” or “virtue”—from three different English translations of this religious text. These scores were then compared to determine whether the different translations captured the meaning of the Qur’an in terms of its cognitive complexity in the same way. The results of the exercise determined that cognitive structure, as measured by IC score, was invariant among three technically sound—that is, “grammatically, syntactically, and definitionally correct”—translations, despite any semantic or stylistic variability in their content. That is to say, we found no evidence for the existence of a translation effect. The results also revealed that, in common with earlier IC findings, “struggle” passages were lower in IC than “virtue” passages.

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Integrative Complexity;translation effect;Qur'an;social psychology;translation studies
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TM-2012-114 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Apr 2013
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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