Rule 3

Ask the translation company about their quality assurance system

Any translator, no matter how skilled they may be, is liable to make errors, whether they are oversights or misconceptions. Errors in the transcription of numerals are also possible. And, if you utilize more than one translator, you may see variations in the translation of a word or phrase, regardless of how good the translators may be as individuals. It is up to the translation company (project manager) to carry out quality assurance to ensure that such problems are kept to a minimum.

Ask the translation company, "What do you do to assure quality?"

Prevention of Erroneous Translations and Omissions

If you ask a translation company how they ensure the quality of their translations, they may say things like:

  1. "We always have a different person review all of a translator's translation."
  2. "We check to make sure that there are no omissions in the translated text."
  3. "We extract one or two pages to see whether there are any mistranslations or not."
  4. "We tell our translators to be careful" (i.e. nothing in particular is done).

There is no doubt that there would be less of a chance that a mistake will be found in the completed translation if the step described in (1) above is taken as compared to (4). This would, of course, also be reflected in the cost of the translation.

Even though there is normally no need for a client to give instructions on the translation quality assurance process, you can make requests each time regarding reviews. For example, "We need you to take extra care in your reviews to make sure that are no mistakes in numerical figures in the translation of this financial statement."

Prevention of Inconsistencies

What can be done to prevent inconsistencies in the translation of words and phrases when more than one translator is used? When asked, a translation company may say:

  1. "We assign a translator to look over the whole translation and make sure that there is consistency in the words and phrases used."
  2. "We first create a sample and then have individual translators do the translations in accordance with the sample."
  3. "We have translators do their work in conformity to a style guide or glossary."
  4. "We don't do anything in particular" (it would take courage for a translation company to say this).

Schedules and budgets usually do not allow for translations to be redone when the original text is lengthy. The key is how the process for reducing variations is planned before translations begin. Such plans are created by project managers, so we suggest that you ask ahead of time what their plan is.

When considering the quality assurance process, it sometimes helps to think about it in overall terms, including the steps you can take as a client. For example, you can divide up the review work by having the translation company make sure that there are no errors in the transcription of numerals and then taking on the confirmation of proper nouns, etc., yourself. This makes it possible to carry out an even more detailed verification of the translation.

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