Standards in Translation Industry

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By Beti Levensteinas

Globalization helped in the rapid growth of translation and localization activities. However, there has been a mismatch of expectations, assumptions and goals between those who request a translation and those supplying a translation, affecting, thus, project quality. In view of that, national standards were developed in different parts of the world. Concerted efforts were endeavored to implement quality standards and maintain consistency in translations in the whole world.

Generally, those standards are not legally binding, they are just recommendations, but people are expected to follow them. They are connected with to management, procedures, project and they aim at increasing translation efficiency and improving translation processes. Those standards aim at teaching translators to improve their own processes, but it takes time for translators to improve, they go up various steps to improve their efficiency. 

There are basic standards which include, without limitation, information processing, information and documentation, terminological principles and methods. There are also subject standards, such as product standards, testing standards, process standards, service standards to interface standards and data standards. One standard may be used in a field at an office, for a client at an office, at one office as a whole, at various offices, at a region, in a country etc. 

Standardized definition of quality applied to translation refers to correct form and content expected from customer. Many countries have their own standards.
Languages lexicon, spelling and grammar are highly prescribed. And languages evolve along time and there is an ever increasing number of subject fields. Translation is a fast changing market environment. Technology evolves at a tremendous speed. More specialization is required and new qualifications have to be acquired. Customer’s requirements and expectations also change fast.

There’s a variation of terms from country to country and standards are used to try to apply only one term worldwide. Quality assurance is an added process that takes time to complete, since it requires more personnel to proofread, organize translation memories etc.There is also a lot of non-linguistics issues at stake in translation.Quality standards are applied to improve efficiency, speed up work, maintain consistency, then there’s no reason to increase cost charged from customers since translator is helping himself/herself, rather than the client.

It should be identified problem points in translation process and it should be improves quality as well as cost by reducing steps and additional work hours.
Translators/Translation agencies should prepare a list of key words and submit it to the customer for checking terminology so that translators/translation agencies can use that glossary as a protection, since customer’s approval is like a contract.

Some of standards are based on wrong terms, syntactic errors, omission, word structure or agreement errors, misspelling, punctuation error, miscellaneous errors (those are connected with linguistics).

However, they can also be based on nonlinguistic aspects, such as segment-level check: missing and incomplete translation, corrupt characters, inconsistent sentence count, source and target inconsistency, punctuation at the end of segments, spaces before punctuation, double spacing, double dots, double punctuation, quotation marks, brackets and parentheses, number values, number formatting, measurement unit conversion, digit to text conversion, terminology, project glossaries adherence, identical untranslatable, tags, identical tags.

There is no agreement on a universal concept of quality, one agency may say it is a mix between creative and normative, but different areas have different requirements, in order to use a particular product.

Some countries use standards as a basis for certification, while others do not do so. In U.S. translation standard, client provides specification, a contract is entered into, and then production starts, there’s a project manager, a translator, a proofreader and after proofreading, translation is submitted to client, in case of feedback, translation is improved and given back to client. LISA guide has linguistic and nonlinguistic standards that apply penalties to a translation. In ISO 17100:2015, there is cooperation between clients and translators/contractors, it is required a certification of competence in translation awarded by a relevant governmental agency. DIN 2345 – 1998, the German standard, focuses more on text. 

The large amount of standards causes confusion. There’s a need to harmonize the definitions to be adapted universally by all national standards. Conceptual agreement must exist at the definition level, scope, procedures and aims. Translation quality must include localization quality and must be applied from the uniform definition of quality set forth in ISO. Evaluation parameters have to be described as accurately as possible. Certification could be granted to individuals, companies or processes. The use of technology for translations has to be accurately described as it is in existing standards. Copyright specification and rules should be clearly stated. Services different from translation should be determined, classified and described as clearly as possible.

Indian translation industry has a lot to learn from leaders in terms of developing well organized translation management processes involving terminology management and standardization of terms, quality control standards, customer satisfaction and the use of technology, including human assisted machine translation. Indian industry wants no more regulation and burden, but it has a culture of being economical. In translation industry, one cannot be aloof and s/he/it will be forced to apply market standards.

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Certified Quality Translation Services in Delhi