Translation and Standards

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By Maria Eugenia Padron

It seems to be a common misconception in the general population that people that know two languages are translators automatically. This couldn’t be further away from the truth. To become a quality translator, you need not only to know 2 different languages really well, but you need many skills on top of that. You need to be able to detect and interpret the context of the text and its meaning in different ways to be able to translate the text’s meaning accurately and in a relevant manner for the audience that’ll be reading the translated text. Dialects and register in language are to be considered, as well as social context. Differences in phonetics might even be considered if there’s a pun or rhyme intended in the original text.

So, how are we able to keep a quality check in translators? Some clients may rely in the accreditation of the translator’s studies. If she or he has a diploma in translation, that makes the clients trust in that the translator has the skills and manages the techniques required to create quality translations.

However, with the globalization of the world increasing, the demand for translators is on a rise. Also, the opportunity for translators to become freelance/independent amidst the changing job market of the 20th century has increased the offer of translators as well. To keep up with this market, many bilingual or multilingual people have started to become translators through experience, independent studies, or simply have studied translation but don’t know how to apply what they’ve learned in school or didn’t receive appropriate education on the field.

Translation being a difficult craft, with all the different techniques, theories, methods, and tools that exist for it, along with the ambiguity and flexibility language seems to show frequently, has made it necessary for many governments, organizations and businesses to have a standard way of measuring the quality of a translator’s services.

This is why apart from having examinations and qualifications, translators might need to check international or local translation quality standards, depending on where they’re working at.

According to Morning Translations, the most recognized standard for translators in the world is the ISO 9001 standard. It provides guidelines and a framework to evaluate the consistency of a translator’s performance at a variety of levels, customer satisfaction, staff motivation and improvement.

Another standard is EN 15038, which was created in 2006 by the European Committee for Standardization. It defines requirements for the personnel, technical resources, quality control, client contract parameters, as well as management methods and project management of the translator’s services. This standard is the one used by European countries, and it inspired the standard that was created and is employed in Canada, CGSB-131.10.

EN 15038 was recently updated in 2015 to a new standard to be used in Europe called ISO 17100:2015. Outside of the European Union and Canada, most countries rely on the ISO standards previously mentioned.

The LISA Scorecard is another standard that’s widely in use, despite that the Localization Industry Standards Association has ceased to be active and functioning. It relies in a grading system, and for a translation to pass it, it needs a grade of 99%.

The ATA metric was developed in the US by the American Translators Association also relies in a grading system, but it works differently. Instead of having a grade based on points, it’s based on performance levels. So it’s possible for a translation to pass the quality standards with different performance levels, such as strong or standard.

Apart from all these different quality standards, there are some that have been specifically created for a specific purpose, such as for medical translations. Translators have to keep this in mind, as well as that the translation standard to be used might not vary only by country, but also by government, business, institution or organization.

All translators need to keep up to date with all the laws and standards that are relevant for their job. This will set their professionalism and trustworthiness will be displayed, so as to get clients that look to hire such translators because they know their translation is a trustworthy, quality translation which is worth the money they’ll pay for the translating services that’ll leave then satisfied and require a fair pay that’s relevant to the quality of the translator’s services.

Therefore, translators need to constantly read new standards and changes made to them, keep informed through journals or newsletters for translators, and need to thoroughly explore the standards that are the most relevant. For example, a medical translator might not focus so much on the ISO standards as in learning about the standards the medical association she or he works for requires.

This is just another aspect through which it’s visible how a translator never stops learning and is in need of constant and permanent improvement. New research, technology and techniques appear constantly, and it's part of a translator’s job to keep informed and learn about them to maintain their services reliable.

By Maria Eugenia Padron - Summer 2017 Intern


Intern’s profile:

Certified Quality Translation Services in Delhi