Here’s a fun set of pages brought to you by the US State Department. They explain the skill levels that State Department language tests rate you at, in such detail that you can probably rate yourself. (Even in your native language, if you like!) The skill areas they test are reading, writing, speech, translating, and interpreting.
(I found it through an ad asking US citizens with good Portuguese to apply for jobs in Brazil. Man, I studied the wrong languages for sun and fun, I’m telling you.)
It told me what I pretty much already knew: I’m surprisingly good at reading most of my other languages, and surprisingly bad at speaking. Everything else kinda falls into line with that. Another skill to work on….
Anyway, the other interesting thing is that they actually have definitions for their vision of some important concepts.
“A successful translation is one that conveys the explicit and implicit meaning of the source language into the target language as fully and accurately as possible. From the standpoint of the user, the translation must also meet the prescribed specifications and deadlines.”
The essential translation skill is to “choose the equivalent expression in the target language that both fully conveys and best matches the meaning intended in the source language (referred to as congruity judgment).”
Congruity judgment. It’s not a lovely expression, but it says what you have to do.