Likvärdighet and seeing the light

I’ve always struggled with the term likvärdighet. All the options I’ve found have left me dissatisfied and I’ve felt uncomfortable with accepting them, though I have made them work (in most cases). Part of the reason could be that the term is often used in Swedish reports and articles that commonly express ideas in a disinterested (passively) and vague way so the real meaning must be assumed or is obscured by how the sentence is formulated. This lulls you into accepting the vagueness, which then cascades into your own translations. And of course, the term can be used differently, so you have to really understand what the author is trying to say to pry out the best choice.

That’s probably why I was so happy when a lightbulb flashed on today as I was proofing and editing one such translation.

Here’s a Swedish sentence from the text:

“Interna och externa utvärderingar slår fast att projektet har kunnat stärka förutsättningarna för nationell kvalitet och likvärdighet inom samhällsorienteringen.”

This text uses likvärdighet over 10 times in roughly the same fashion. I had tried versions of equality, equivalency and probably some other desperate plays but kept coming back and revising them. And then I followed my own standard advice of divorcing myself from the source text. I asked, what is the author really trying to say here? And it didn’t take many seconds before it struck me so hard that my office chair spun around and I gave a yelp that stirred others to come find out what had happened: consistency.

So here’s my current version of this translation:

Internal and external evaluations find that the project has improved the potential for providing civic orientation at the same high quality and consistency throughout the country.

I admit to being rather pleased by this find and maybe a bit embarrassed I’d not seen it before. While I realize consistency cannot work in every case, it sure does open up a new way of seeing likvärdighet, and I suspect will enable me to find other, similarly useful solutions in the future.