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A Guide to Improving Translation Quality

Translation comes in many forms, from strictly technical document translation to software localization. There are different elements involved in each translation, but there is one common denominator – quality. The secret to high-quality translations lies in understanding the translation process and applying the right tools for its management.


What is translation quality?

Translation quality measures how well a translation is consistent, true to the original message, and matches the original tone of the text. Additionally, a quality translation is free of grammatical errors and considers the nuances target audience’s cultural use of words.


How process impacts quality

There are specific nuances of the translation process that affect quality. For a translation to meet the criteria above, it is necessary to have a straightforward translation process that includes the following steps:

  1. Meet with the vendor to discuss the project details, such as time frame, price, terminology, and specific requirements. A translation brief is very important in this case and is a good foundation for setting the customer’s expectations about the quality of the translation service. At this stage, the LSP will assign a project manager for the specific translation and/or customer.

  2. Then a translator who meets the client’s linguistic and industrial expertise requirements is assigned the translation. Then, a translator who meets the client’s linguistic and industrial expertise requirements is assigned the translation. The chosen translator should understand the tone and spirit of the message to ensure the translation uses the correct vocabulary. Preferably, the translator is a subject-matter expert in the field with a relevant educational degree.

  3. The third step is to have a proofreader, different from the initial translator, proofread the text. This stage is one of the most important for translation quality. The expert proofreader checks that the linguistic and non-linguistic elements of the source text are present in the target text. The proofreader verifies that the translation has captured the original text's meaning and reads as if written in the target language. Additionally, the proofreader rectifies all grammar, spelling, or technical errors at this stage.

  4. Once the text has undergone proofreading, the project manager puts the translated text into the required layout to be published on a website, printed as handouts, etc. as demanded by the customer. This correct formatting will add to the overall quality of the translation.

  5. Afterward, an experienced proofreader does final proofreading to check for discrepancies that might have occurred during formatting. Ideally, this proofreader is a different translator from the person who translated the text and who proofread it initially. Thus, the translated text passes through three independent linguists, which enhances the possibility of a high-quality end product.

  6. The LSP submits the final translated and proofread text to the customer.

  7. The customer completes a final check of the translated content and provides feedback.

  8. Corrections are made (if necessary).


QA tools that boost translation quality

Quality assurance (QA) tools are extremely efficient in maintaining high translation quality. Some of the very basic tools that are a must include:

  • Computer-aided Translation (CAT) tools with installed translation memory help translate the same segments consistently. Once a specific element of the content is verified, it can be kept in the memory and used in future projects to ensure consistency and thus improve quality.

  • A terminology base, which can either be part of a CAT tool or organized using other available programs, ensures all the translators on a given project use approved terminology.

  • A Translation Management System (TMS) that can be either part of the LSP or used internally by the company to monitor its translation processes.

  • A centralized platform for the translation process that all parties involved have access to.

While investing in QA tools may seem expensive, they are preferable to all the negative consequences a poor translation can bring.


Final thoughts 

In summary, a quality translation is a translation that follows a high-quality process that includes a translator who is a subject-matter expert in the field and a qualified linguist with sufficient experience in the industry. It is also crucial that an experienced proofreader reviews the translation to guarantee that the text is free of errors, consistent with the original, and bears the same tone while using the most appropriate linguistic tools of the target language. 

Following the guide above will help you determine whether you get high-quality translations or whether it is high time to change your vendor.


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