While i first starting working within the translation sector and was tasked with recruiting for new clients, one of my common introductions would often be… ‘we offer high quality translations’. Often it was met with slightly blank expressions – and rightly so as very few translation service providers would lay claims to offering poor quality translations. I soon realised that this approach, and particularly the use of the word ‘quality’, was not best suited to prospecting for new clients. The reason I was so keen to use this particular word while approaching new clients had been because of the effect I had see it got during my training, where I had observed a prospect switch to our corporation because of the “poor quality” translations that they had received elsewhere. In my mind the key reason clients would choose a specific supplier was down to quality. While I still believe this to be the case in many situations, other factors such as cost, reputation, and ability to provide the right service can be equally important.
High quality, however , is still a very important factor think about your translation provider. The problem comes when trying to evaluate quality. Often , one of the difficulties that face buyers of translation services is the main reason these are using the services of a supplier to begin with and that is that they do not have the skills or even capabilities in house for a specific language. Unlike most business services the quality of the work, therefore , cannot be validated as soon as the work is delivered. This validation usually comes once the work is definitely published. This can be a costly exercise within testing, especially if the results are how the work is of a poor standard or, worse still, damages the trustworthiness of the company that has published the work.
So how can you ensure that when you commission a translation service provider you’ll receive a quality translation and how do you go about measuring this? This article looks at the issue of quality within the translation industry and looks at the ways in which purchasers can assess the quality of the translations they obtain.
For many years, the language service industry has theorised on how to define a quality translation. Most commonly used to explain what a high quality translation should be is that it meets plus exceeds the customer’s expectation of quality. This is a good standard to adhere to, however , the difficulty comes in determining what will meet or exceed the customer’s expectation of high quality. Company X’s understanding of (or specifications for) quality may be very different from business Y’s. It is vital when commissioning translation that all parties involved in the process (the buyer, supplier, the translator, and so forth ) are fully aware of what the expectation of quality is. A good exercise prior to confirming the task is to create a portfolio of examples and samples of good translations that may be supplied to the language service provider. This could be used as a semi-style guide for that translator undertaking the assignment. It can also be useful to include examples of bad high quality translations to help make your requirements more precise. These samples can act as the benchmark to compare completed translations. If you are at a stage where you are determining which usually language service provider you will be using, it is also very useful to commission a sample or even test piece of the text to determine the expected level of quality. Ultimately, communicating your requirements plus ensuring that they are understood will considerably enhance the probability of receiving a high quality translation.
Overall, when you analyse the standard of translation work you are assessing 3 or more specific elements that make up the interpretation process; the agency, the translator and the actual translation itself. Firstly, you need to look at the process the language service provider uses in terms of managing the work. There are a variety of European and worldwide specifications that provide guidance for translation companies when it comes to processing work. The most popular of these is BS EN 15038. However , just because a company has accomplished a certain standard or follows particular guidelines, there is no guarantee that they will provide a quality translation. As mentioned above, a good exercise if to ask the particular supplier to provide a test piece of their own work. Alternatively, ask to see a small sample of work they feel demonstrates their quality. Additionally , testimonials or references should also be sought from satisfied customers.
Equally important because the agency is who they commission payment to undertake the actual translation. It is important to understand how qualified the translator is to carry out the task. This will not only be linguistic qualifications, but also relevant experience and additional qualifications in their specific area of expertise. It will also be wise to confirm that the translator is a mother tongue linguist and their country of residence. With snel that are required for publication it is also a smart idea to have a second mother tongue linguist examine the work for errors and omissions, syntax and style. If the client works with an agent in the country where the translation is going to be used it is also a good idea to have the agent read through the work. When all is said and done, the client and their agent will always know more about their particular business than the translator and the real estate agent may like to make some suggestions, particularly if they will be using the translation as a marketing tool as it is important that they feel comfortable from it. Any self-respecting translation company needs to be more than willing to work with the agent to own desired result and incorporate any suggestions into the translation.
The crux of the quality issue is determined by the actual translation itself. A language service provider may follow the most appropriate procedures, utilize the very best translators and still be unable to give a translation of the quality required by the client.
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The procedures mentioned above will help, but they don’t guarantee quality. Ultimately, the quality of a translation boils down to the particular perception of the buyer and (as already mentioned above) whether the translation meets and exceeds their expectation. Therefore then it is back to the supplier plus making sure they understand the expectations and follow the appropriate steps to ensure this really is achieved. In my experience I believe that it is the connection between the translation service provider and the customer that holds the key. Both edges must ensure that neither party make assumptions about the requirements of the function, but have a clear understanding of what is needed. Translation providers will need to know who the target audience for the translation will be and from the outset it really is useful to provide information on the post-translation technique work. For example , is it an inter-company memo which will be distributed to 1, 1000 internal customers or an adverting text potentially going out to 100, 000 external customers? It is also useful to make clear what the proposed medium for that translation is. Translators who translate marketing copy for a company sales brochure may wish take a different style when translating a marketing text for a website or blog site. Translation suppliers will sometimes refer to text because either ‘for information’ or ‘for publication’. Text for information can be text that, although accurate, might not be as polished as perhaps the ‘for publication’ text would be and so it is advisable to determine what type of translation service you require. Another requirement to consider is the timing of the translation – how long the particular translator has to translate the text. Usually, a single translator can translate between 1, 500 and 2, 1000 words per day. However , if the textual content is fairly lengthy and time is limited, the work can be split between multiple translators. This brings in issues of consistency of terminology, which may be jeopardised by splitting the work. A potential work around is to use multiple translators having a single proof-reader, this way ensuring the particular translated text uses a consistent design.
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, quality is difficult to determine in interpretation. Translation, like music CDs plus cars, is not a commodity and thus open to interpretation. However the key to helping ensure that both translation providers and buyers provide and get a quality translation is to have obvious and open information as to what the requirements are of a quality translation.