In the translation business, accuracy and quality in any type and size of the project is a critical requirement. The reputation of the company and its translators depend on the quality of product they deliver to any client, whether they are individuals or corporations.
Even if the professional translators learn new translation techniques and tools to facilitate the translation process, they still have to consistently maintain the high quality of the translation output. Clients put their trust in translators to ensure that they are able to mirror the original document and transmit the intended messages into the target languages.
Professional translation process
Professional translators working with language services providers (LSPs) or translation companies understand that translation requires a number of stages that some freelance translators do not know.
Translation is a serious business and clients depend on the professionalism and skills of translators to ensure that their documents are translated into other languages without changing their context.
Translation does not only mean typing the text in another language aided by some tools. Aside from translating the text, translation involves editing and revising, proofreading, review and final copy as well as other quality control measures, to ensure that it is a mirror image of the original. Only when the translation passes the standard of the translation company would the document be sent to the client.
The union of translation companies in Europe has long wanted to institute a translation standard to be followed by all translation companies in the region, instead of each country having its own standards. Finally the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies (EUATC) identified the need to have a quality standard that is translation industry-specific. The union built on the individual standards of member nations. In 2003, the EUATC worked with the European standards organization called the CEN and after a series of consultations, EN 15038 was established after three years. EN 15038 is implemented Europe wide and member associations translate the standards into their own official languages.
Many countries are already accepting and adopting EN 15038 standards. In its guideline, here are some of the things that are required:
The editor who revises the translation should be different from the person who did the translation. The proofreader should be another person as well. This is not very practical because of time constraints, thus most times, the writer also becomes the proofreader. The writer does the proofreading after reading the comments of the editor.
However, quality control should be in place to ensure the quality of the translation before it leaves the agency. This is something that freelance translators should learn and implement as well. Technically, a translator should not work on his or her own. Translation should be a collaborative effort to keep the translation consistently accurate and of high quality.
Today, translation, in the eyes of translators and clients, refers to the entire process. Translation is the first step in the whole process, followed by editing and proofreading. The quality of the source of the text is important but higher importance is placed on the delivery of high quality translation. If the first step is done correctly, then the succeeding steps in the process will go smoothly as well.
Assuring the quality of translation
Delivery of high quality document translation services is a mark of professionalism. Maintaining the quality of translation is difficult but it is part of what a reputable language services provider is all about. Whether you are a freelance translator or you work for a translation company, it is important to learn how to ensure the quality of your translation. For efficiency and consistency, here are some tips to maintain consistent quality in your translations services.
- Check all the files from the client. Read the instructions given by the client thoroughly to ensure that you understand how to approach the translation. Review and prepare the documents that are to be translated.
- Ensure that you are knowledgeable in the language style and the subject matter. Discuss this with the project manager. A professional translator should not accept a project that is outside of his/her own expertise. Specific terminology that is used in specialized projects takes time to master. While it is important for a translator to widen his or her own field of expertise, learning while doing a job will not benefit the client.
It is not good to be greedy. A good translator must understand his/her limitations. There are subject matters that the translator can be good at and there will be some that are beyond his knowledge. It’s more beneficial to a translator to be an expert in some fields as this will assure that the translator can always deliver accurate translation of high quality. Being a subject matter expert would ensure that the translator would have consistent work.The translator must be familiar with the specific format of the document. The translation company often requires the client to send a file format that is translation-friendly. A translation memory should accompany the document. However, the translator should not change the client’s specified CAT tool. Revising the structure of the file would require the project manager to reformat the file, which would delay the completion of the project. This could cause delay that would reflect badly on the company.
- Ensure the quality of your document translation by using all the required terminology database, glossaries, style guides and reference materials. It is better to use the database from the client if it is supplied. It is easy to import an Excel file into the CAT tool you are using. It will only take a short time to create a file of the client’s glossary through with the csv file.
- A good translator learns from the previous jobs. It is also important to maintain consistency with the style and terminology from past works. This will help you and the company to have regular clients. It is quite rare for clients to request translations for the first time. Therefore you can expect them to require accuracy and high quality from you.
- A translator must work closely with the project manager. The person can help the translator if there is a problem with the glossary or translation memory. The project manager can then contact the client to ensure consistency with previous work for the client. It is also important that the translator keep a separate file of any comments and issues with terminology while doing the translation. Giving feedback to the project manager will help build improvements and quality in the translation process. The separate file can also guide the editor, as you are giving them advance warning of the issues and the reasons why you deviated from the original.
- To ensure good quality in your translation, it is important to contact the client or the project manager if there is a problems or an imminent problem with the delivery, word count or format of the document.
- To ensure or maintain accuracy and quality, it is important for the translator to do background work before translating. Visit the client’s website as well as its competitors. This would help you get to know the client better. You’ll also be able to find good style and terminology from competitors’ sites.
- It is important for a translator to use the tools that are available aside from the free translation tools. A spellchecker is essential to spot typo errors and misspellings. It is also important to edit your work by comparing your translation to the source document. Ensure that the translation makes sense and flows smoothly by reading it aloud. Run your work through a spellchecker after you’ve corrected some mistakes to ensure that you have not missed anything.
The translation would have a different set of readers and they want the document to deliver the content in their own language. Technically, the target audience does not care for the quality of the translation. However, the quality of the translation is important for the target audience to fully understand the message that needs to be conveyed.
- Each translation work should be checked against the source material to detect issues with formatting and see if there are missing texts. Different CAT tools have different QA features. It is good to practice as if you are a freelancer who does not have access to most CAT tools. This helps you to be familiar with all the steps involved in the translation process. It hones your skills and helps you develop a keen eye to spot mistakes, typo errors and other inconsistencies.
- While translation must mirror the source document, you can do it without being literal. Clients and even readers would not appreciate it if it were a word-for-word translation. It would not sound natural and the flow of idea would be hampered. It may not even make sense. Literal translations are applicable at times when working on technical materials, such as patents, software translations, medical, automotive, engineering or pharmaceutical translations. A different approach is also required when translating resumes, news clips and literature materials. It is your job as a professional translator to maintain a neutral approach, so you can always view your work with a critical eye.
- See to it that the translation complies with the culture of the target audience, especially in the use of punctuation marks, such as number separators, time and date formats, typography, words, idioms and jargon. Other issues are the cognates, particularly the false ones.
Precision is needed to ensure translation quality. It is not only the verbs and nouns you should be wary of but the prepositions, adverbs and the adjectives. Checking your work at every phase of the translation process is critical in maintaining translation quality. Professional LSPs has a quality control team to do just that. To ensure that you get accurate, professionally done and high quality translation, choose your language services provider wisely.