Quality Standards in the translation process

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By Ticiane Martins

Translation involves much more than simply make the transition of a text from one language to another. To perform this task, it is necessary to understand the text, dive into its meaning − considering its language of origin − and then search in the source language a manner of communicating, in the best way possible, everything that is proposed in the initial text. Translating, therefore, involves cultural knowledge, investigative ability, curiosity, knowledge of the nuances of the languages in which you are working, fulfilment of the customers requirements and, also, it is important surrender oneself completely to the text. Translation, thus, involves human experience and, as such, always reveals some subjectivity of both the person who makes the translation of the text  and the person who will review it. How, then, can you maintain some control over the process of translation to ensure, as far as possible, that the translated text will be satisfactory to the customer? The quality control of the translation is one possible answer to this question, considering its development over time and the tools that offers some objectivity to the profession.

Globalization and development of communication made the translation a necessity to strengthen the human relationship, especially considering the possibilities to intensify negotiations and economic or political relations between the countries. Parallel to this, the technology development was also reflected in the process of translation and the translator has now a higher demand for labor, with requirements for agility and for
suitability for the standardization of their work, as far as possible, to meet customer expectations.

To meet this demand for quality control in the translation service - although considering that language, like all the cultural process, is dynamic and is always undergoing change and development and that the interpretations given by the translator should be considered when checking the quality of a translation -, some structural characteristics of a language can be analyzed in a stage of quality control (grammar, punctuation and terminology, for example). Some examples of the methodologies used to verify the quality of a translation are represented by the American Translation Service Standard (ASTM), the German standard DIN 2345, The European Quality Standard for Translation Services (EN 15038), the J2450 of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE J2450), the Chinese quality standard, the Canadian translation services standards, LISA best practice guide and ISO.

According to the SAE J2450 standard, these points to be analyzed can be summarized in terms of: wrong term, syntactic error, omission, word structure or agreement error, misspelling, punctuation error, miscellaneous error. An analysis of these points, in terms of numbers, could assist in finding specific problems in the translation.For the company or professional who provides translation services, maintaining a glossary with the key terms of a technical area can facilitate the quality control of the final text, taking into account the needs of the customer. The development of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool helps to exercise control of quality in addition to the forms of manual checking. In accordance with the text "Controlo de Qualidade na Tradução" of Miriam Santos, this influence of Information Technology in the translation service began to be noticed in the 1980s, causing the transition of a “manual and intuitive” to a systematic and technological verification of the translated texts. Thus, the author asserts that the quality control of the translation services has been developing with the improvement of translation tools, with the increase of terminology databases, and with the continuous improvement of check lists and control, among others. To ensure the development of a good translation work, some key points should be checked even by the translator who works independently, which would be: incomplete translation of a segment of the text, spacing of the text, punctuation, numeric standard for the source language, consistency with the technical terms in the glossary. Miriam Santos sustains that in the future the translation field will need more often of this kind of systematization, in which the translation is seen as a product.

It must be emphasized, however, that the term "quality" has no universal definition and its meaning does not establish only one way of analyzing the aspects of a translation, in other words, its meaning varies according to the objectives of a translation and, thus, the standard of quality for literary translation, for example, should not be the same as that used for the translation of a text of a technical area. In this way, it must be considered that "quality" is a term flexible and which does not represent the standardization of the meanings of a translation, but rather a way of ensuring that the translation meets certain criteria (which should be in accordance with the goals of the text) for broaden the perception of translation as a serious activity that is committed to its continued improvement.

SANTOS, Miriam. Controlo de Qualidade na Tradução. In: http://let.unb.br/espanhol/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/SANTOS-QUALIDADE.pdf

Quality Standards and translation.In: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpAL-5eAMrE

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