Translation – Quality Issues
Not everybody is able to translate well. Having a simple knowledge of two languages is not enough to create a professional translation. To that effect, several factors are important: At least one of the two languages must be translators’ mother tongue. Ideally, a translator will only translate from the source language into his or her native language. If a non-native speaker handles the translation, a native speaker should check the translation before delivering.
An excellent command of both languages is necessary for professional translation. Knowing the grammar of both languages, their style, their typical uses, and some of their idioms and phrases is important.
It is also an advantage to have good writing skills in the target language – translating will be easier.
Some translators are specialized in one or more subjects (for instance, computing, business, law, medicine, manufacturing etc.). Indepth knowledge of the subject matter at hand is absolutely essential – and even if that is the case, the translator may still have to do extensive research on a topic to provide the highest quality translation.
The best way to know if a translation is good is to assess whether it comes across as a piece of original writing in the translated language. True translation quality is present when the audience is unable to guess that a text is a translation. To obtain such a translation, it is crucial to follow several steps: Not to translate literally so that the translation reads well; clarify the text with small sentences instead of long ones and reorganize them if necessary; use the equivalent of proverbs, idioms or phrases of the target language; when the meaning of a word is unsure, double-check with an expert or the client to ensure proper understanding; research existing similar translations of the same subject matter; use a monolingual dictionary to be sure not to pick the wrong word in a bilingual dictionary; have the work proofread and grammar checked – ideally by a second equally knowledgeable translator, and ask questions or ask for help to someone qualified if there are any doubts, etc.
Quality in translation can be divided into four categories. The first one is the raw translation. Its main aim is communicating the meaning of the text. It can be understood even if it may have some spelling and grammar errors – this can be the quality of many scientific summaries.
The second one is the normal quality translation. Indeed, this is the update of old translations – this is usually the quality of technical manuals.
The third one is the extra-quality translation: The cultural implications are adapted to that of the target language – this can be the quality of advertisements.
The last one is the adaptation of original texts. Actually, it is a new text based on the original piece of work. It may not correspond exactly to the original text.
As every service, translation has also its own quality standards. Several countries have their own standard like the French NF X50-670 standard or the Spanish UNE-EN 15038 standard. Among them, there is the European EN 15038 standard, which sets out the basic requirements for the human resources and process used in the provision of translation services; the relationship with the client; the procedures for translation services.