Translation: discipline and industry

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By Joaquín Muñoz
As all of us know translation and its related activities involve a large number of factors, so it is very reasonably to approach them from different points of view. Translation consists of two faces: linguistic aspects and non linguistic aspects, it had become a sophisticated discipline, like economics, engineering and others. Both linguistic and non linguistic aspects are critical. At the present time, the latters are recognised as crucial because translation is an complex industry.

First of all, we must see translation just a discipline no more, but an industry, our industry. Our aim is clients and our mission, a good services, that is, an accurate linguistic work considering the non linguistic aspects to get a good balance between both aspects.
A professional translator must begin from the following starting point: quality assurance. It consists of conformance of customer expectations, user satisfaction, continuous improvement, and delivery speed. So quality standards are necessary to give a good service. These define how we must work and help us in getting the above mentioned balance, but what are these quality standards and how can help us?

As a theoretical framework, we can use a comparative analysis of existing standards and their applications (source: Quality Assessment in Translation by Jiri Steiskal, ATA Chronicle, October, 2006). There are seven standards: German, Austrian, Chinese, USA, European, Canadian, and ISO. These standards are used in translation by individuals (but in China) and companies and voluntary compliance. China is the unique country with a strict governmental control between these ones.
A good example of the way how the quality standards can influence in the translation process is the LISA Standards. These standards aim clients perspective of the translation services and other ones. The latters are GILT world services: globalization, internationalization, localization and translation.

How big the importance of LISA Standards is their members and cofounders include some of the largest and best known international companies, such as Adobe, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Nokia, Xerox Corporation, and others. Thus the question “can a translator not consider these standards if so important companies use them?” plays a crucial role in our work and its answer is very simple and easy: no, a translator can’t. These companies require large amounts of translation any translator can despise.

Another standard is the International Standard Organization (ISO) 17100:2015. This one sets conditions for a good translation process. According to it, translation and revision are a (linguistic) must that represents linguistic aspects. The second condition is a mixture of linguistic as well as non linguistic aspects because it requires a translation degree (linguistic) and the enough knowledge in the field of the texts to translate (non linguistic), and finally it emphasises the (non linguistic) cooperation between clients and translators. ISO 17100:2015 rules the relation of both aspects, that is, it helps us in achieving a good balance between them. We need this support because translation process demands a very full knowledge about the translated topics, and our work requires a ruled relation between clients and we, translation is an industry like any other.

The German DIN 2345 – 1998 Standard is another example of the crucial role of linguistic and non linguistic aspects and standards achieving the balance between them. As any translation standard, DIN 2345 – 1998 has as starting point the source text (it establishes rights and duties of the translator and client about the source text); another section deals with the selection of the translator and his/her means to do an appropriate work; the third section deals with a non linguistic aspect, the contract between customer and translator vendor (it covers from the reception of the source text and the start of the translation work and should contain an agreement on the deadline and other any additional services); the fourth section deal with the target text (linguistic standards of the target language and the original text, and the agreement with the client, too), and the last section deal with the proofreading (the technical and terminological content of the translation should be checked according to the contract order form or services agreement). As we can see, this standard is thought to permit linguistic and non linguistic aspects to play their role in the translation process, and gives a framework to combine these different kinds of aspects of the translation process.

In the video “7 Quality Standards one must know”, there are a section “Mission Impossible” and another one “Mission Possible”, but are there these kinds of missions? I don’t think so. Perhaps as kinds to explain the translation process at a classroom. If other disciplines do their impossible mission possible mission, why can’t translation?

Translation is another branch of knowledge like biology, mathematics, etc. And translators can and must improve their work, this is the reason of the real importance of the balance between both linguistic and non linguistic aspects. The first are the theoretical side and the latters, the practical one. In other words, the discipline and the industry together.



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