Achieving Increased Readability : Swedish Red Cross texts and their English Translations

University essay from Mälardalens högskola/Akademin för utbildning, kultur och kommunikation

Author: Pauline Backman; [2015]

Keywords: ;


The importance of readable texts is gaining increased recognition, especially when writing for a diverse audience represented by people of various backgrounds and cultures.

The present study compares the levels of readability in Swedish and English texts, from the Swedish Red Cross organisation. The Swedish texts were translated into English by the author of the present study, with the aim of producing texts written in plain English for a readership with potentially low proficiency in the language. The methods used to measure the readability levels of the source and target texts included two well-established readability tests online, a textual analysis (focused on linking words and the active vs. passive voice) and questionnaires from the Red Cross supervisor and a small group of informants representing the target readership.

The results show that increased readability was achieved for the majority of the target texts compared to the corresponding source texts. However, there are results, mainly from the textual analysis, that deviate from this general picture, which may be the reason why the overall grade of the TTs is, fairly easy. However, whether the readability of the target texts is high enough for the diverse readership they are intended for is difficult to assess within the framework of the present study, such an assessment would be suitable when the texts have been available for a longer time.

Keywords: readability, readability formulas, linking words, the active voice, the passive voice, English, Swedish, translation. 

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