|[TRANSLINK]||Technical translations, specialists MSDS translation|
|Quality Assurance / Standards|
Although, over the years, the translation and localization industry has produced quite a few standards aimed at assessing and/or assuring the quality of translated technical documents, a uniform and comprehensive standard setting out clear requirements for any language services vendor has so far not been available. Most standards published in the 1970s and 1980s focussed on issues indirectly related to the translation process itself, such as formatting and presentation (e.g. ISO 2384:1977 Documentation - Presentation of Translations).
In what follows, I briefly want to outline the contents of two standards, plus the European draft standard for translation services, we have found most useful in elaborating our own quality assurance procedures and methodology for technical translation work, namely the Italian standard UNI 10574, the German standard DIN 2345, and the draft European standard prEN-15038
Primarily defines the requirements and procedures that providers of translation and interpretation services should implement in their daily activities. More specifically, it provides guidelines and requirements for:
Is a more ambitious standard, and covers the translation services themselves, as well as the contractual framework in which they are provided, and the general working procedures that should be applied. The standard comprises five sections dealing with:
The above standards are, in my opinion, the most useful standards available to the translation industry today.
prEN-15038, a European Quality Standard for Translation Services
The work of the members of CEN/BTTF 138 Taskforce on the future "European Quality Standard for Translation Services", which started in 2000, has already resulted in the formulation of some very useful new concepts, as evidenced in preliminary papers and comments made available to the public (see, e.g. the website of the Localization Industry Standards Association at www.lisa.org), and the published draft standard prEN-15038:2004).
Among the most important innovations to be found in the draft version of the standard, is the precise definition of the terms "revision" and "review".
According to prEN-15038 (par. 5.3.4), the "revision" of a translation should be a "comparison of the source and target texts for terminology consistency, register and style". So revising a translation implies confronting the translated text with the original, to check whether the translation is accurate, adequate, complete, etc.
A "review" (par. 5.3.5), on the other hand, is defined as a "monolingual review to assess the suitability of the final translation for the agreed purpose". Thus, it is the act of proof-reading the translation without looking at the original document. At this stage it is assumed that all translation and language issues have been resolved, so that the "reviewer" can concentrate fully on the legibility, fluidity, and technical adequacy of the translation. The draft standard also explicitly states that both the reviser and the reviewer "should have domain competence".
This formal definition of the steps involved in what was hitherto quite indiscriminately referred to as "editing", "reviewing", "proof-reading", "revising", "checking",... a translation is a major step forward that can help to clearly state the expectations and requirements of both customers, and translators.
The "European Quality Standard for Translation Services" EN-15038 will be the first standard to address not only the translation process itself, but also a number of other processes that are involved in the translation supply chain, from initial project specification, over production and revision, to the final delivery to the customer, and even invoicing. A brief summary of the content of the projected content of EN-15038 can be found on the website of the EU (this link opens a pdf-file). EN-15038 is scheduled for publication in 2006.
The Translation Methodology section explains how we incorporated the main concepts of the three standards discussed above, in our quality assurance procedures and translation process.