Translating questionnaires for cross-national surveys: A description of a genre and its particularities based on the ISO 17100 categorization of translator competences


  • Dorothée Behr GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences


Questionnaire translation, genre, translation competence


Sound questionnaire translation is crucial for collecting equivalent data in cross-national surveys. The topic is widely discussed in fields in which translated questionnaires are used, such as in the social sciences or in cross-cultural psychology, but hardly in translation studies. This article aims at bridging this gap by bringing the genre of questionnaires closer to translation scholars and practitioners. To begin with, we will provide a sketch of key characteristics of cross-national survey methodology, with a special focus on questionnaire translation. Next, the multi-dimensional concept of translation competence will be introduced. Along the ISO 17100 competence model then, we will list requirements, challenges, and resources for questionnaire translation and illustrate those with examples. The concluding paragraph will highlight areas for interdisciplinary research involving both translation studies and cross-national survey methodology.