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Quality Assurance in Translations Shouldn’t Start With Translators

Numerous language service providers or LSP offer their translation services with high quality, which is, in effect, a successful converting of a source language text into the target language text. The final linguistic outcome is read by the target audience and decided if it meets their standards. So, what is considered “high quality translation”?

Quality in translation

Even though a standard definition regarding what a high quality translation is cannot be given, according to many linguists’ opinion, it is the one that meets or, if possible, exceeds the expectations of the target audience. Of course, the client’s opinion is what probably matters the most, however it doesn’t mean that all translation that meets a client needs is a high quality content.

For example, some translation tasks being simple, do not require an expert knowledge. In fact, a machine translation can complete it, then a linguist can check and edit the text upon its completion. As a matter of fact, this translation will not be regarded as a high quality one, although it meets the client’s expectation. Since it is difficult to measure linguistic quality, there is a process that ensures quality assurance in translation, which is being followed by Language Service Providers.

Steps of the quality assurance process

1. A translator is assigned

As soon as the client provides a list of requirements for a project, a translator is being assigned to the project. The assigned translator must meet two requirements. The first one is to be a native speaker of the target language of the project, and the second one is to have an experience in the same field of expertise that matches the project. Depending on the amount of the translation tasks, multiple translators can be assigned certain parts of the project.

2. The editor fine combs the translated text

Sending the translated text to an editor is the next important step to ensure quality assurance in translation. An experienced editor, who is, in fact, a highly experienced translator with knowledge of the subject matter, is entitled to check every single detail to find errors, common mistakes, and grammatical inconsistencies. Not only that, the editor will also make sure that the meaning of the source text comes across in the converted text. This step being done, the text is either sent to the desktop publishing or the multimedia team.

3. The desktop publishing or the multimedia team puts translated text in a format

In the next step, the text is sent to the desktop publishing team or the multimedia team. In case the client wants the translated text on a website, the desktop publishing team would be employed. But, if the client wants the text to be prepared for subtitling and screen adaptation, it will directly go to the multimedia team. In order to fit the translated text into a format, the experts in the team must factor in text expansions and retraction occurring during the translation process.

4. A proofreader checks the final document

To ensure nothing is missing, a final check is done and the project manager is instantly notified should there be any inconsistencies so he can maintain quality assurance in translation.

5. The project manager delivers the translated project to the client

The last step in translation task checking is upon the project manager who the person who supervises the whole project. Since the project manager is responsible for the final output, the person on this position has to review the final outcome and send it to the client afterwards.

6. The client reviews the translated text

Upon reception of the translated project, the client reviews the assignment and provides a feedback asking for improvements if necessary.

Translation Quality Enablement

With cost reductions and all the translation quality checks, a question of how to enable translators a better working environment is being raised?

 Style Guides & Glossaries

To avoid such an unwanted ambiguity within the translation process, and correcting misinterpretations accordingly, the best way to approach this issue is to provide translators with appropriate glossaries and style guides.

A glossary is a unit of the unique terms and preferred phrases which are routinely included in the company’s vocabulary. Separate entries in this list of brand names, service features, and relevant acronyms must be defined, translated, and associated with a part of speech. To illustrate why this is so significant, we can take any word in the English language which corresponds to nominalization. Furthermore, this is a linguistic phenomenon when both a verb and a noun have the same from, without any inflection. When this occurs, how is one to know whether the client favors the verb or the noun? It can largely influence the final form of the translation that is going to be delivered to the purchaser.

Since glossaries define and determine what the from and the concept of the language used during translation, contrary to that, style guides impose the manner in which the language should be used. Some of them can be stances the company has on addressing the audience in a second-person or the implication of the oxford comma. However small details these might appear, they determine and shape the foundation of brand voice. Such stylistic preferences will ensure that overall style remains the same regardless of the translator who is going to be assigned the work. Of course, it goes without saying that these guides and glossaries need to be easily accessible and constantly updated so as to keep pace with modern translation requirements and demands. Speaking of modern methods and tools, cloud-based translation management systems, as a centralized storage, are especially useful and helpful to enable and facilitate real-time version update.

Take Advantage of Translation Memory

Each time translators get a totally new string with no prior context, errors can occur. The moment when the translation memory comes to action is when already used strings are withdrawn from the storage. When translation memory tools recognize an exact match between an old translation and a new string, translators are immediately given a recommendation to accept it inn the appropriate segment.

However, when translation memory tools detect a partial match between an old translation and a new string, a similar recommendation is sent to translators to ensure they aren’t starting from scratch. Such a match is usually 50% to 99% high.

For example, if the phrase “30% Off Men’s tracksuits” were previously translated, and therefore saved in translation memory, another, similar string stating “30% Off Women’s underwear” will show a certain percentage of matching. The percentage would be even higher if the word regarding clothes on discount is the same. Since translators do not always come across such obvious cases, they should use their best discretion when accepting translation memory suggestions. However, the crucial point when using translation memory is consistency improvement, cost decrease, efficiency increase and time saving.

For even higher improvement, translation memory files need to be carefully paired to relevant projects and shared with every linguist, freelancer, or any colleague dealing with the translation assignment. In this way, they all share the same base, expand and upgrade the translation memory, while both communicate and solve issues they come across on their way to the task completion.

Offer Clues With Visual Context

Probably the simplest and the most fruitful ways to reduce quality assurance issues is to allow translators to see how their target text will appear on a website or within a mobile app. Being able to view it in a practical application, they are enabled to instantly solve contextual confusion and to correct intended phrasing, and more. In case translators are given a spreadsheet only, containing text strings from their client. For example, a word “run” placed in Cell C24, they have no way of knowing whether that phrase appears on a website button that starts an action or it is a part of the main navigation menu of a fitness app. Anyway, the value of visual context will go even higher as we delve deeper into the technology era. It’s time is coming.

Translation Quality Assurance and ISO Compliance

Aside from the process of Translation Quality Assurance and the ways and items to prop translators with, there is one more important thing before delivering the final solution to the client. As suppliers of services or goods have to comply with quality standard certificates in their field, likewise translation companies, translation vendors and analysts are ethically and legally bound to deliver high quality translations. Translation Quality Assurance is also the manner in which an Language Service Providers can achieve compliance with the high-demanding requirements of the translation-industry-specific ISO certificate. Further on, a sought-after certificate for Translation Quality Assurance is the ISO 17100, containing stringent requirements of documented professional and educational qualifications and proven competencies for the experts involved in high-class translation work.


Having been introduced to the Quality Translation Assurance process, it can easily be concluded that this endeavor indeed stars with translators. But, before they are given an assignment, what a serious translation company should do is to equip them with suitable glossaries, guide styles and a rich translation memory in the field of the ongoing project.

As much as an artist can create another piece of art, it will be time and resource saving if a magnificent tool is placed in their virtuous hands. It is suffice to say that the Quality Translation Assurance starts with an excellent equipment and a golden pair of translator’s hands.


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