Translation Quality Standards: What is it and what is its purpose?

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By Leonardo Faig

One of the most important things when you are a translator (a freelancer, in-house translator or a professional working for a company) is to know how to keep your clients and deal with them, make contact with them, solve their doubts and show them that you care about them as people and not just as clients. (you can check this article here: http://modlingua.com/blogs/687-the-bond-between-freelancers-and-clients.html ) This is important because your clients will make propaganda about you and your job. Of course, this is not the only thing you have to concern. Another aspect you should take care of is the quality of your work. Well, you need to keep studying and practicing your target languages, otherwise you will suffer from lack of experience, vocabulary and terminology. Your work need to have a certain pattern.

To do so, you need to apply some quality to your job. But what does that mean? According to Business Dictionary, quality means “the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bears its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.” A translator provides certain services to the clients, and he needs to satisfy them in every aspect. Besides the deadline, another important thing is accuracy of information.

Imagine this situation: You work for a huge medicinal company. They need a translation for one specific language to another, so they can start producing more medicine to a specific country. If you are not accurate, you can even get some medicine with different substance that could do a different effect to a patient. This happens with a lot of different areas, like business area, technical documentation, etc.

The quality standards for translations are important to develop terminology as well. In the situation above, if a translator are working with a company that sells medicine, sometimes a substance may change or be added in a product. The terminology must be altered in this case, also a memory (when we talk about CAT Tools) with this specific substance. A lot of people think that this is some rare case, that language and linguistics is something that doesn’t change a lot. Language are evolving all the time, and it is important for the translator (and also his employer) to be updated and get the right terminologies.

Because of that, the international industry specific standards has been developed, so the LSPs (Language Service Providers) could work and deliver a product with quality to their clients. Two types of standards are the process-oriented standard and the metrics-oriented standards.

The process-oriented standard focus on maintenance of translation and revisions by great professionals of the area. The metrics-oriented standard focus on quality metrics used by softwares and hardwares that will define if a translation is good or bad. In a nutshell, the process-oriented standard is about the professional behind the job. Sometimes the employer will offer training sessions, for example, to make his employee a better and more qualified professional. The metrics-oriented standard focus on technology rather than people.

Both processes are important and widely used. The ISO 9001 (a process-oriented standard) is one of the most widely recognized quality standard. ISO means International Organization for Standardization, and those standards are used in a lot of different workplaces (not just the translation field), like industry, technology, healthcare, etc.

So, the question is: Are the quality standards that important to translators? The answer is: yes. But it is not just about that. For a person who runs a company, it is important to invest in the translators. If this person will use ISO standards, for example, he will need good and qualified professionals. To do so, he will have to look for a good translator or apply ongoing trainings, realized internships and invest in his crew. With a little bit of both investments, the company will grow. It is hard and requires money at first, but the results will come in handy.

If you want to know more about ISO, you can go to their website. There, they explain about different types of ISO quality standards to each kind of field. It is interesting to explore the amount of utilities for a standard. They even have a video showing what they can do for a company. Of course, ISO is just one of a big amount of quality standards on market. You just have to find which one suits you best.

Knowing that, if you run an agency or a company and need to grow, always invest in quality standard and also in your employees.   

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