When you think of translation quality, you more than likely also think of elements such as accuracy, consistency and correctness. It’s either right or wrong. Correct or incorrect. All based upon accuracy and not preference.
But any linguist or translation vendor will tell you it isn’t that easy. Translation can be very subjective. Many times, there are several ways to say something in a different language. At other times, there’s no easy way to say it. Words can take on new meaning, carry different significance and sometimes lack an exact translation.
There are multiple content factors that affect quality; such as terminology, language and style. Let’s dig in a little deeper into these elements and how they affect translation quality.
Being sure your translated text is near or true to the original source text is the essence of translation. This where the critical language asset comes in – terminology.
Terminology management helps you master the three pillars of your translation program:
A well-managed terminology management program can substantially reduce the time it takes to produce translations, decrease the amount of re-work required during the review process and significantly increase the quality of final translations with the use of a defined term base.
The vocabulary or technical terms used in your particular industry and within your organization, is unique to your translation needs. Take, for example, the term “bridge.” Is this the bridge built in construction or the type of dental restoration? Translation vendors should be able to store and manage your company’s specific terminology in both source and target languages using translation memory and term bases. By doing this, you eliminate translation inconsistencies and keep terminology specific to each of your company’s departments.
To measure language quality, we must look at the quality of the culturally accepted and utilized meaning of words within the target text. Checking factors like the spelling and grammar of the target text is often second nature to a qualified linguist and reviewer. Yet, culture-specific norms and in-country usage can be challenging to evaluate. This is why it is valuable for your translation vendor to assign in-country reviewers who can flag translations that may not be localized or may sound strange to a native speaker in that region of the world.
Style reflects the way in which your source text is translated in relation to subjective qualities, such as expression, tone, register and arrangement of content. Each of your departments may have specific layouts, formats, branding colors or even margins for the content they develop. These could all be affected by the variation between source and translated text. To keep your style preferences consistent across your organization, it’s important to develop and update style guides that your translation vendor and linguists can refer to during translations and desktop publishing.
Effectively managing these key elements of every translation – style, terminology and language – is crucial for high quality outputs. Your translation vendor can and should help you manage these elements with appropriate quality programs and processes – they are the experts after all. Having control over all of these factors can help you master the three pillars of translation; cost, quality and turnaround time.
Now, I may be biased, but I believe terminology is the most critical of them all. Learn more about terminology and how it can help improve quality and cut costs during my webinar: The “critical” language asset – Reduce costs & improve quality with terminology.
Iñaki, a Language Program Architect at Amplexor, has been working in the localization industry since 1993. With extensive experience in solutions development, linguistics and terminology management, he is a member of the Linguistic Management Team at Amplexor. Having lectured at university prior to starting in localization, Iñaki holds a degree in linguistics and a Master of Arts in translation studies. When Iñaki is not busy working on language issues, his passion is rooted in photography.