In my previous article, I started writing on how professionals measure and evaluate the quality of a translation. This article continues the series on my research of the kind of standards and metrics professionals use in evaluating translation.
Difference between Standards and Metrics
First let's define the difference between 'standards' and 'metrics'.
- A standard is an agreed level of quality
- A metric is a system we use for measurement
I discovered that there are actually eight standards and metrics companies use for their translation providers. Standards deal with certification in translation training while metrics go into the specific details of assigning point system in measuring the quality of the translation text.
Having done a thorough research in this past month, I will share with you the four different standards that professionals use to measure the quality of translation in this article. Since this information is already quite comprehensive, the four different metrics will be shared in my next article.
Four Standards To Evaluate Translation Quality
There are four standards companies can choose to measure translation quality.
In all these four standards, they take into consideration the following when certifying the translation work:
Translator's competence is most important as they must demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and skill.
The translator must have the oral skill of interpreting the source language into the target language. (This doesn't apply to Utopian as we are only dealing with written translation but still oral skill is needed to meet up to professional standards)
The translator is required to have excellent writing skills in his native language. He must show excellent grammar and knowledge of different writings styles.
Cultural knowledge in both target and source languages are required. He must be familiar with the cultural differences between the countries of the source language and target language.
The translator must keep up to date of changes that take place in languages. Languages are living and change as our world evolves, so translators are required to constantly develop their skills and stay connected to at least two different cultures and languages.
Translators need to have the skill to take into consideration of the linguistic, cultural, technical and geographical conventions of the target audience.
Translators must have expertise in two or three subject areas. When translating for a company, the translator needs to have a thorough knowledge about their products or services. This means that active communication is necessary for the translator to discuss the subject matter with the company.
Translators need to have good computer skills and be able to use different software programs to do research online.
Good time management skill is needed as translators often work in a consistent working schedule to meet deadlines.
For the rest of the article, I will list out the "Four Standards" professionals use for translation quality. You will notice that these standards come in "codes" meaning that they are maintained by standardization organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization. As quality management grows, different quality standards have also been developed for the translation work. I will list the four standards starting with the most updated standards.
1. ISO 17100
Many companies within the translation industry uses the ISO 17100 as the new internationally recognized translation standard. ISO stands for International Standards Organization which is introduced in May 2015, so sometimes you see the standard noted as: ISO 1700:2015. This development became a significant milestone for the global translation business.
Here is a short description of ISO 17100 taken from this article:
ISO 17100:2015 provides requirements for the core processes, resources, and other aspects necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications.
The use of raw output from machine translation plus post-editing is outside the scope of ISO 17100.
At Utopian, we also discourage the use of machine translation. True translation does not use machine translation at all as everything should be worked out from scratch. Unfortunately many amateur translators use machine translation and then do some post editing afterwards. This is not translation but a short-cut tactic used when translators do not have language training.
One of the ways that we can upgrade our verified translators in the Davinci team is to provide some online courses to build up their language skills. With some language training, translators will have more competence to translate from scratch without depending on any translation softwares.
The following diagram summarizes the workflow of the translator with ISO 17100 standard:
There are 3 stages in the translation process to ensure quality of the work. This means that ISO 17100 is a process standard, and deals more primarily with the translation process including pre-translation and post-translation activities.
The standard itself does not define quality or give any quality metrics but it does set the conditions for achieving quality. How? By following the translation process steps.
2. ISO 9000
Here is the description of ISO 9000 from this article:
The ISO 9000 addresses various aspects of quality management and contains some of ISO’s best known standards. The standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved.
ISO 9001:2015 sets out the criteria for a quality management system and is the only standard in the family that can be certified to (although this is not a requirement). It can be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity. In fact, there are over one million companies and organizations in over 170 countries certified to ISO 9001.
Translation Quality Management is the main focus here. The ultimate factor that determines the quality of translation depends entirely on the expertise of the translator. This means that the translator must have the professional quality level of the subject matter he is translating. For example, in the case of technical, scientific and medical translation, the target audience often has MD or PhD degrees in science. So the translator is required to have the same level of training to pass the translation quality test.
Here are the requirements a translator needs to meet for this standard:
An advanced degree in the subject matter to be translated (MD, PhD, MSEE, etc.)
Have extensive work experience within the relevant field of science, engineering, medicine or law
At least 7 years of experience translating technical documents in the subject matter.
The standard of this one is quite high. Presently, our verified translators do not meet this kind of standard as this will require full screening of each translator for each of the different projects in Crowdin. We do not have the manpower for this purpose.
3. EN 15038
EN 15038 is published by CEN using the European Committee for Standardization. It attempts to provide certification of translation specific quality management using independent, on-site audits.
EN-15038:2006 is a specific European standard for translation services which 'covers the core translation process and all other related aspects involved in providing the service, including quality assurance and traceability. This standard offers both translation service providers and their clients a description and definition of the entire service. At the same time it is designed to provide translation service providers with a set of procedures and requirements to meet market needs.
A strong focus is put on the administrative, documentation, review and revision processes. The standard quality involves at least two different people performing the translation: translator and reviewer.
Actually right now in the Utopian-Davinci collaboration, we are following this administrative procedure to ensure quality of the translation. We have a translator doing the actual translation and then a second translator, the language manager, reviewing the translation by giving necessary feedback to improve on the translation.
The following chart shows the difference between the ISO17100 and the EN 15038
As you can see, EN15038 focuses mainly on the translation itself, ie. the final product, while ISO 17100 on the other hand outlines the process of translation as more important.
I believe both areas are important to ensure quality, so we will keep them in mind when we set the guidelines for our translation category.
4. ASTM F2575-14
ASTM stands for the American translation services Standard Guide for quality assurance in Translation.
Here is a description of ASTM F2575-14 in this article:
The ASTM F2575-14 is a standard guide for Quality Assurance in translation. It provides a framework for customers and Language Service Providers (LSP) desirous of agreeing on the specific requirements of a translation project. It does not provide specific criteria for translation or project quality, as these requirements may be highly individual, but states parameters that should be considered before beginning a translation project. As the document's name suggests, it is a guideline, informing stakeholders about what basic quality requirements are in need of compliance, rather than a prescriptive set of detail instructions for the translator.
The focus for this one is on the process of the translation between the company and the translator so as to ensure quality assurance. Much interaction is needed before the translation and after the translation.
This is one area that I feel we can implement into our guidelines where we can encourage more communication between the project owners and the translators. In this way, the project owners can provide a framework for the translators so that there is an agreement on the specific requirements of a translation project. The project owners can state parameters that should be considered before the translation project begins. And after the translation is done, it is good to get the project owners' feedback regarding the translation work.
As you can see, each standard has its unique requirements to ensure translation quality. In all the translation work that I have done so far, I find myself focusing on one aspect more than the other. The four standards do lay out a balance for us to evaluate translation in a more controlled environment.
In fact, quality standards are measured in two aspects:
The final product of the actual translation work
The translation production process
I am made aware of the fact that the process of translation is perhaps as important as the final product of the translation itself. I always thought the end product is where the focus should be. But now, I begin to see that the production process in the administration, documentation, review and revision steps are needed to ensure a quality standard in the final product.
In my next article, I will share with you my findings on the four kind of metrics professionals use for translation quality.
Blog Post Series
- #1 Promoting Translation in Utopian.io - Fully alive and Stronger
- #2 Promoting Translation in Utopian.io - Growing Translation Teams in Quality
- #3 Promoting Translation in Utopian.io - Growing Performance
- #4 Promoting Translation in Utopian.io - 51 Translators & Proofreaders Getting FOSS projects in Crowdin Go Global
- #5 Translation Category - How To Write Your Application Post to Apply for LM/Translator
- #6 What Metrics & Standards Professionals Use To evaluate Translation Quality Part 1
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