Is Quality Standards good for translators?

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By: Mohamed Saleh, English-Arabic translator

Language is the only method of communication among humans and it is needed for any kind of dealing or transaction. Since there are lots of people with different races, dialects, and languages, the communication which is the integrated part and the purpose of the language becomes very difficult or even impossible in situations where people do not understand each others due to the language differences that create a barrier to communication; and therein lies the pivotal role of translation in its various forms.

Translation industry is in ongoing growth and development every day, so it was a necessity to draw up guidelines or rules for translators and language professionals to follow; to ensure quality in their work.  Quality, in general, can be defined as the degree of excellence of something. As for the provision of translation, quality could define as the features or characteristics that if translators follow, they will ensure accuracy and convey a similar meaning that equals the meaning in the source language.

Evaluating the quality of translation has some approaches. The quality of translation is divided into some categories such as: anecdotal, subjective, and text-based approaches. Old professional translators, linguists, writers, and philosophers have long discussed the quality of translation. Some translators see that the quality standards are useless and the quality of translation depends on translators themselves and their qualifications and skills. Others believe that there must be a way to evaluate translation in order to avoid mistakes and produce an accurate translation and they came up with a question which is how to evaluate the quality of translation?   

By the time, they were able to answer that question and today there are many different types of quality standards for translation such as: The German DIN 2345, the Austrian Önorm D1201, the Italian UNI 10547, ISO 17100 …etc.

Quality standards in translation are really important because they can help both, service providers (translators) and payers (clients) attain a precious goal which is to ensure and develop professionalism. However, professionalism and accuracy in translation cannot be easily known, particularly, most of clients are not specialists in the field. However, it can be known through one method which is when the reader reads the translated text feels that it is the original text and is written in the mother tongue that was originally written in. This is the simplest method to identify quality in translation. There are many quality standards that translators have to know to make sure that their work is accurate and error-free, and here are some of them:

1- Coherence and compatibility of the meaning

The meaning is the most significant part in translation. Translators have to ensure that the meaning in the source text is coherent and cohesive, otherwise they will produce a poor translation which may lead to problems or take away of the competence and reputation of the translator. If the readers are not able to understand the translated text, this indicates that the translator failed to understand the meaning properly in the source text.

 2-Keep the style  

The style of translation in the source text has to match they style in the target text. For example, the style of scientific translation is different from legal or business translation and so on.  

3-Avoid mistakes  

The translated text has to be free of typos, misspellings, grammatical, and structural mistakes. If the source text has many mistakes, this indicates that the translator is not a professional and does not have good language skills. This, for sure will have negative impacts on the reputation of the translator and in some cases, the clients will not assign the translator future projects.

 4- Original composition

The translated text has to be similar to the original one, although many researchers in the field of translation indicated that the translated text cannot equal the original text for some reasons. However, translators have to make sure they use correct terms that give proper meaning and deal know that every language has its style and culture. Translator have to bear in mind the cultural differences as well in order to deliverer a professional translation.  

As mentioned above, translators and linguists have to follow the quality standards for translation to be able to deliver a professional accurate translation that satisfy their clients and add to their career at the same time. It is worth mentioning that translators and clients alike have to be aware of quality standards. This will help the two parties understand their duties towards each other well.
  
Mohamed Saleh, English-Arabic translator, interpreter, and proof-reader, and Translation Intern at Modlingua, India's No1. certified translation and Language service providers based in New Delhi.

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