Study Guide

Field 026: Latin
Written Translation

Sample Directions for Written Translation

This section of the test consists of two written translation assignments. The first assignment requires you to translate one selection of Latin prose and the second requires you to translate one selection of Latin poetry. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your responses to the assignments.

Read the assignments carefully before you begin to work. Think about how you will organize your responses. You may use the erasable notebooklet to make notes, write an outline, or otherwise prepare your responses. However, your final response to each assignment must be typed in the response box provided for the assignment.

In your translation you should accurately convey the full and complete meaning of the Latin prose or poetry in fluid, idiomatic English, conforming to the rules of English grammar and mechanics while maintaining the style and structure of the original Latin. You do not need to maintain the meter of the original work in your translation of Latin poetry.

Your translation of each of the assigned Latin pieces will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

Your responses must be written in in English. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Your written responses should be your original work, written in your own words, and should not be copied from some other work. Remember to review your work and make any changes you think will improve your responses.

Select the Next button to continue.

Sample Written Translation Assignment

Translate the text below from Latin into fluid, idiomatic English. The English translation should fully and completely express the meaning of the Latin text. Metrical scansion does not need to be retained in the English translation.

The poet describes the entrance to Hades.

Est via dēclīvis fūnesta nūbila taxō:
dūcit ad īnfernās per mūta silentia sēdēs;
Styx nebulās exhālat iners, umbraeque recentēs
dēscendunt illāc simulācraque fūncta sepulcrīs:
pallor hiemsque tenent lātē loca senta novīque,
quā sit iter, mānēs, Stygiam quod dūcat ad urbem,
ignōrant, ubi sit nigrī fera rēgia Dītis.
mille capāx aditūs et apertās undique portās
urbs habet, utque fretum dē tōtā flūmina terrā,
sīc omnēs animās locus accipit ille nec ūllī
exiguus populō est turbamve accēdere sentit.
errant exsanguēs sine corpore at ossibus umbrae,
parsque forum celebrant, pars īmī tēcta tyrannī,
pars aliquās artēs, antīquae imitāmina vītae.

(Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.432–445)

taxus, -ī (f): yew tree

umbrae: ghosts

sentus, -a, -um: neglected, rough

imitāmen, imitāminis (n): an imitation

Sample Response for Written Translation Assignment

There is a descending path, deadly and with a gloomy mist, at a yew tree. It proceeds toward infernal through absolute silences. The sluggish Styx breathes forth vapors and newly arriving ghosts are descending there with likenesses formed in graves. Grayness and cold hold fast far and wide. The neglected region and new spirits of the dead do not know the right way to the Styx which leads to the city where the uncultivated palace of black Pluto is. The city has a wide entrance and a thousand open gates all around and rivers from entire earth as a sea, and in that way the place receives all the souls, and is neither too small for any people nor does the region feel the force that a crowd approaches. Bloodless ghosts without body or bones wander. A part frequent the forum, the house of the vile tyrant, and a part sing the praises of some arts, and a part experience the imitations of the former life.

Performance Characteristics for the Written Translation Assignment

Comprehension the extent to which the English used in the translation demonstrates an accurate understanding of the original passage.
Interpretation the extent to which the English used in the translation accurately and appropriately interprets figurative language (e.g., idioms, idiomatic expressions, similes, metaphors) in the original passage.
Inference the extent to which the English used in the translation effectively infers subtleties (e.g., style, tone, mood, register, cultural references) in the original passage.
Vocabulary the extent to which English vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and word choice used in the translation are contextually and syntactically appropriate to the original passage.
Grammar, Syntax, and Mechanics the extent to which grammatical structures, syntactic constructions, and mechanics (e.g. punctuation) used in the translation result in fluid, idiomatic, and contextually appropriate English.

Score Scale for the Written Translation Assignment

The four points of the score scale correspond to varying degrees of performance. The following statements describe typical responses at each score point.

Score Point Score Point Description
4 The response gives evidence of strong translation skills.
  • The candidate accurately comprehends the original passage. The translation is a clear, appropriately organized, effective representation of the original; all important details are included, and extraneous content is avoided.
  • The candidate accurately and appropriately interprets figurative language and idiomatic constructions throughout the response.
  • The candidate effectively infers implied information throughout the response, even if it is subtly or abstractly conveyed.
  • The candidate uses effective vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and word choice that are contextually and syntactically appropriate to the entire original passage.
  • The candidate's strong control of grammatical and syntactic constructions, including but not limited to gapping, agreement, tense, voice, subordination, results in fluid, idiomatic, and contextually appropriate English. Punctuation and other mechanics support the meaning of the text. A few minor errors may exist, but they do not detract from the translation.
3 The response gives evidence of satisfactory translation skills.
  • The candidate adequately comprehends the original passage. The translation is a generally clear, organized, and satisfactory representation of the original; omission of some important detail or introduction of some extraneous content does not compromise the original meaning.
  • The candidate adequately interprets figurative language in most of the response. A few literal translations may exist.
  • The candidate generally infers implied information, but misses some subtleties or abstractions.
  • The candidate uses satisfactory vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and word choice that are contextually and syntactically appropriate to most of the original passage.
  • The candidate's satisfactory control of grammatical and syntactic constructions for the most part results in idiomatic and contextually appropriate English. Punctuation and other mechanics generally support the meaning of the text, but minor and a few major errors may cause ambiguity.
2 The response gives evidence of limited translation skills.
  • The candidate partially comprehends the original passage. The translation is a partially clear, partially organized, limited representation of the original; omission of important detail and/or introduction of extraneous content compromises some of the original meaning.
  • The candidate is partially able to interpret figurative language. Many literal translations may exist, resulting in imprecision and inaccuracies.
  • The candidate infers some implied information, but misses many subtleties and abstractions.
  • The candidate uses limited vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and word choice that are contextually and syntactically appropriate to only some of the original passage.
  • The candidate's limited control of grammatical and syntactic constructions results in partially idiomatic English that may be contextually inappropriate. Many errors in or omission of punctuation and other mechanics impede meaning.
1 The response gives evidence of a lack of translation skills.
  • The candidate fails to comprehend the original passage. The translation is unclear, disorganized, and consistently misrepresents the original; omission of important detail and introduction of extraneous content compromise almost all of the original meaning.
  • The candidate consistently fails to interpret figurative language accurately or appropriately. Literal translations are so numerous and imprecise that they significantly change the meaning of the passage
  • The candidate is consistently unable to make any inferences, whether subtle or obvious.
  • The candidate fails to use vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and word choice that are contextually or syntactically appropriate to the original passage.
  • The candidate's lack of control of grammatical and syntactic constructions results in little to no meaningful, idiomatic, contextually appropriate English. Essential punctuation or other mechanics are missing or so seriously flawed that the translation fails to convey the meaning of the passage.
U The response is "unscorable" because it is not on the given topic, illegible, not in the appropriate language, or too short to score.
B There is no response to the assignment.