Maintaining Value as a Translator

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By Veer Kartik

The substantial expansion of the translation market in the vast majority of countries has led to the creation of quality standards in this field, defining the basic rights and responsibilities of translation companies and consumers of their products. From the very outset, quality standards for translation were developed in conjunction with industrial quality standards. One interesting trend that has become evident in recent years is for ISO 9001 certification of a company’s quality management system to be regarded as a pre-requisite for obtaining certificates to perform certain kinds of commercial activities.

Ever since the oral epics were first set down in writing, they have been, in one way or another, undergoing a continual process of translation. Accuracy is an important part of maintaining standard. You can argue about the fine points of certain words, but some things aren’t up for discussion.

Texture is another very important part. Good translators work hard to bring across the feel of the original writing. The best translations find just the right way to convey even the unappealing qualities of the original.

Some of the Standards used in the world include- Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is a statutory body working under the administrative control of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Govt.Of India.

The USA currently uses the ASTM F2575-06 standard (Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation), which sets out the basic principles for analysis of translation quality. These principles are used in drafting terms and conditions for work on specific projects and to facilitate better mutual understanding between the client and the provider of translation services.
In 1998, the German Institute for Standardization published the DIN 2345 standard, which sets out terms and conditions for agreements between clients and the translators.

Russia’s GOST R ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems lists the quality management requirements that should be used by companies themselves to certify their own product and when contracting with clients.

Quality assurance is essential in this standard. Quality management and quality control are key issues covering the whole process in order to produce translation projects to the customer’s satisfaction. It implies a close cooperation with clients (not standardization of them) in order to deliver a conforming service through quality project management. To ensure compliance with the standard, a quality manager should be appointed within the company for writing the procedures, monitoring internal statistics and evaluating the quality systems.
As to procedures, little is mentioned except for basic issues regarding request and offer (service type, client’s specifications, deadlines, cost estimate); preliminary source text analysis to assess the service provider’s documentary needs (terminology and background information) and subcontracting liabilities. Quality control is reduced to compliance with agreed specifications and service completeness and coherence. Other organization procedures make reference to project documentation for purposes of traceability and confidentially. Finally, issues concerning personnel include the basic qualifications required from translation service providers. Such requirements are, in fact, a checklist of required competences: translational, linguistic and textual, research and documentation, cultural and technical competence. There is no mention, though, to the way the required competences can or should be acquired. Further training lies within the translation service provider’s responsibility. Should the provider have employees for the provision of the service, he or she is to keep a record of each employee which may at least include personal details, working languages, professional experience, education and tasks assigned in a given project. Technical requirements are briefly mentioned as well, i.e. appropriate equipment for handling and storing of the project documentation, access to information resources, adequate hardware, software and communications equipment.

As to the features of the target text, a functionalist approach to translation is adopted. Again, the client has a good deal of responsibility as he/she should provide the function, purpose and intended audience of the target text, as well as any client’s specifications and appropriate reference material regarding special terminology requirements, such as particular language policies, use of controlled languages and house style guides, etc.

The formalization of the service contract is also dealt with under service requirements. It is a compulsory agreement on the actual commercial terms (fees, invoicing, payment, delivery) that also specifies the contents of a given project: client’s specifications, languages involved, translation purpose, technical details, human resources, working and delivery conditions, confidentiality clauses, and dispute settlement provisions. Guidelines on units of measure and criteria for determining fees are also provided. It is worth mentioning that the contract should ensure monitoring and controlling the delivery of the service by the supplier.
A detailed description of requirements on material, technical and human resources are further mentioned. Not only should the company have office premises, but also a meeting room and appropriate terminology resources. Only for translation services, companies should have in place computer tools and other appropriate equipment.

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