Evaluating slogan translation from the readers' perspective: A case study of Macao

Lily Lim, Kwok Ying Loi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Slogans play an important role in conveying information to targeted audiences, and the translation of slogans tends to be studied under the rubric of public-notice translation. Previous research mainly uses researchers' expertise to evaluate the quality of this type of translation. Yet, little is known about what the targeted readers think about the translation, although their opinions present key information that helps to determine whether the translation has achieved the intended effect. This paper elicits and systematically analyzes readers' responses. We investigate the case of Macao, a rapidly growing economy where the demand for English translation has markedly increased in recent decades. Public administration bodies in Macao have commissioned Chinese-to-English translation in varied areas such as tourism, social security and welfare, cultural and sports events. We sampled ten translated slogans that were used in the public sector, and administered survey questionnaires (n= 130) to both source-text and target-text readers. The two groups of readers' evaluations, based on the criteria of fluency, conciseness, persuasiveness and mnemonic effect, reveal that the translations are perceived significantly less favorably than the originals are. Readers most strongly disliked word-for-word translations, and pointed out numerous problems with the translations such as ungrammaticality, inappropriate word use, lack of appeal, and unintelligibility due to insufficient background knowledge. This research demonstrates the tangible value of using readers' responses to evaluate translation quality. It also has implications for translator training, and recommends that public authorities should institute a rigorous quality assurance system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-303
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese-English translation
  • Macao
  • Readers
  • Slogans


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