What is translation quality assessment?

Translation quality assessment refers to the degree of acceptability of a translation. In general terms, a translation of acceptable quality is:

  • accurate (reflects the meaning correctly)
  • effective (has the intended effect on the reader)
  • appropriate (meets project parameters).

Translation Quality Assessment has become one of the key issues in translation studies. This comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of translation evaluation makes explicit the grounds of judging the worth of a translation and emphasises that translation is, at its core, a linguistic art.

Various terms for Translation Quality Assessment.

The names given to the procedure vary according to what is the focus of the assessment procedure: the translator, the translation process or the translation product, with the terms quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) often used interchangeably:

• Translation quality assessment

• Translation assessment

• Translation quality measurement

• Translation quality assurance

• Translation assurance

• Translation quality control

• Translation control

• Translation quality evaluation

• Translation evaluation

• Translation quality criticism

• Translation criticism

• Translation quality analysis

Translation requirements employ the term quality assessment that includes at least:

a) A statement of the quality management system objectives.

b) A process for monitoring the quality of delivered translation services and where necessary providing after delivery correction and taking corrective action.

c) A process for handling all information and material received from the client.

Importance of Translation Quality Assessment

High-quality Translation is the end objective. There is need to identify clients’ primary expectations and take their requirements into account to give the best possible results. While working on the translation project, it is important to consider quality measures to ensure the best quality outcomes.

Who to assess the quality of a translation?

Every project has three components: cost, time and quality.  In large companies, project managers are responsible for all these components. But a project manager is usually much more concerned with time and money than with quality, failing to see the consequences of poor-quality translation right away. When a client complains about bad terminology, it’s not enough to change it in the text and deliver it again. More has to be done else the errors will be repeated, and the client will become increasingly unhappy. Thus, the radical decision to place quality assurance under the responsibility of a different specialist, the reviser.

Vortex’s project managers have become highly experienced in differentiating between translating marketing materials and educational texts, and understanding why it is more difficult to localise software than to translate a manual. Vortex has the best linguists (translators), with analytical skills, who solve non-standard problems. These revisers not only understand why translators used the wrong terminology, but also ensure both the error is corrected and future errors are avoided.

Criteria for Translation Quality Assessment

Accuracy: This consists in studying the lexicon, grammatical structure, communication situation and cultural context of the source language text, analysing it to determine its meaning and then reconstructing this same meaning using the lexicon and grammatical structure which are appropriate to the receptor language and its cultural context.

Style: Style is the rhetorical effect of the original text. The task of a translator is to convey the overall philological rhetoric of the source text in the target text, that is, to be faithful or loyal to the original text stylistically.

Grammar: The whole system and structure of a language or languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology (including inflections) and sometimes also phonology and semantics.

Formatting: Thismeans successfully replicating how a source document looks. This includes recreating watermarks, inserting borders, superimposing text over images, and reproducing other details.

Translation Quality Assessment at Vortex

One of the main difficulties translators face in TQA is the use of “universal” translators. Prior to the implementation of the new Quality Assessment process, only one person was involved in the translation process. This was because project managers were apprehensive about working with new linguists and were outsourcing all projects to trusted vendors, without paying much attention to their specialty.

Vortex project managers review all new projects and determine what to translate. There are two tasks in this process: content classification and risk assessment. Content classification determines the translators who are likely to do a good job of translating, proofreading and reviewing that specific text while risk assessment determines what kind of preparation is needed before the project begins. For example, if the project manager finds that the text contains a lot of specialised terminology, he or she recommends creating a glossary first. Based on this text analysis, project managers recommend a sequence of steps to translators.

The Translation Process: Is a complex dichotomous and cumulative process that involves a host of activities drawing upon other disciplines related to language, writing, linguistics and culture.

Steps in the Translation Process: According to Ronald H. Bathgate (1983):

  1. Tuning
  2. understand the context and language style of the text through reading and digging information about the content and context.
  3. Analysis: understand the source text at the sentence, clause and phrase levels and examining the syntactical relationship.
  4. Understanding: grasp the overall meaning of the text and being equipped for translation.
  5. Terminology: find equivalent and appropriate terms for the transfer from ST to TT.
  6. Restructuring: make new structure in TL after the SL text has been split structurally and semantically into clauses, phrases and words.
  7. Checking: means proofreading. Translators check the final draft and then consult it to experts or editor, etc.
  8. Discussion: After revision by experts or editors, the final draft in Target Language is ready to be published and criticized by public.

 Control passes through several stages, namely:

  • Project analysis and pre-flight:

A quick analysis, meant to simply paint a picture of the work to be performed. In preflight, Vortex translators establish exactly what is needed for a particular job. In consultation with the client, a client-specific or project-specific glossary and/or a brand style guide may be set up, in order to align the translation process as much as possible with the client’s needs and expectations.

  • Timeline construction: This is a plan that shows how long it will take to translate the document.
  • Translation Memory analysis: The translator reviews his database that stores “segments”, which can be sentences, paragraphs or sentence-like units that have previously been translated, in order to aid in the process.
  • Glossary and style guide creation: The translator creates a list of terms in the domain, with their definitions and establishes a translation style for the translation project.
  • Production:
    • Translation and review: The translator renders the meaning in the target language and then ensures that each translation is error-free and meets quality standards.
    • Formatting and layout: This involves arranging the document in a structured way, while paying attention to the style of the document’s format.
  • Post- production:
    • Client feedback: After submitting the final work to the client, his feedback will reveal his appreciation of the work.
    • Quality assurance assessment: The project manager ensures there are no blatant flaws.

Compiled by Ashu Synthia

and Lisa Tjonog (Intern)


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