Quality Standards in Translation

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By Jithin Raj CK

Quality according to business dictionary can be defined as the “totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.” In the case of translation, quality could be defined as the success of the translation in accurately capturing and conveying the information and the intent of the source document. Quality in the translation industry is comprised of four critical components: resource selection, quality assurance processes, industry certifications and industry experience. Understanding the important factors in each area will help you become a better translation buyer. A consumer oriented guideline was absent in translation industry and every other industry this made mismatches between what the client wanted and what the service provider delivered which created problems and the quality was questioned. This situation leads to creation of translation standard to projects and educates translation consumers and develops professionalism in translators. Since then there have been constant efforts by professionals, language service providers and organizations involved in promotion and implementation of quality standards in translation. The idea behind this was to prepare a reference guide that shall help the end user get a reasonable assurance of quality as per the stipulated standards.

The development of translation service (TSP) provider certifications is the result of industry growth and maturation. Certifications are a quick way to identify whether or not a particular TSP meets certain standards and has demonstrated compliance by virtue of the certification. The majority of European countries have their own standardization bodies like: DIN, AENOR etc. All of these bodies answer to standardization associations or institutes in the various European countries. Together, all of them make up the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).
Two Main Types of Translation Quality Standards
The International/national, general/industry-specific standards have been formulated, all with the goal of helping language service providers (LSPs) provide their customers with quality deliverables. All of these standards fall into two broad categories:
Process-oriented: These standards focus on establishing and maintaining a process of translation, review and approval that, when followed diligently by qualified professionals, will consistently result in translations that meet customer expectations.
For Example: ISO 17100:2015, it covers main aspects like the reorganization of tasks into three macro-processes: pre-production, production and post-production, and also the addition of the project manager’s profile and role as one of the key participants in translation project workflow.

Metrics-oriented: These standards focus on establishing actual quality metrics against which a translation can be measured and rated as high- or low-quality.
For Example: ATA Metric, which was developed by the American Translators Association to be used as an evaluation tool to test the quality of a translated text. A “strong” or “standard” score on the text correlates with an IRL Professional Performance Level 4 or 5, respectively.
Quality standards are applied to improve the efficiency and maintain the consistency with the work that is being produced. It comes handy in the long run, the standard helps the client at last but it defines the standard of the provider that how efficient are they in delivering the product. The best practices to maintain the long term relation with a client is first of all to create a glossary of words that are in the given project and send it to the client so that they could check and do the necessary and we have a reference point as per the standards of the client. There are several other points to be kept in mind when talking about quality in the linguistic aspect. Several aspects like wrong terms, syntactic errors, what needs to be omitted, subject verb agreement, misspelling, punctuation error, and other various mistakes. There are various other non-linguistic aspects as well. Mistakes such as forgotten and incomplete translations, corrupt characters, Inconsistent sentence count. Punctuations at the end of segments, space before punctuations, double spacing, double dots, double punctuation. Quotation marks, brackets and parenthesis. Other important aspect is of numbering, number values, number formats, measurement unit conversion, and digit to text conversion. Terminology is another crucial aspect, things like Project adherence, untranslatable words, tags etc. Being certified is not mandatory neither is any of the quality standards legal or they are not the law, but adhering to these principles determine the quality of the work which is being delivered to the client.
With its unique language culture and increasing demand of language industries, India is a highly potential market along with other countries like China and Latin America which are well established markets in language industry so developing and educating about the quality standards in translation would do wonders in this industry to both the translator and the client. Regarding these aspects India should take a look at the other well established countries who have gone much ahead in terms of developing well organized translation management process which comprises of terminology management and standardization of terms, quality control standards and customer satisfaction. For which the government, academic institutions, and translators association can collaborate to implement mechanisms that meets the market demands and expectations.

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