As you’re preparing for an upcoming website translation project, one important question may come to mind: Are there any specific laws you’ll need to follow as you complete the project?
Translators are typically more beholden to industry standards than laws.
While there are some laws directly related to translation (i.e., in the US, translations of copyrighted works may only be published by the copyright holder), standards have a much more tangible impact on translation at large. And at LinguaLinx, we take them very seriously. They’re more than a quality control metric—they guide our work from estimate to delivery.
So, let’s get into the four major standards that impact translation to facilitate your upcoming projects:
- ASTM F2575-06
- SAE J2450
- DIN 2345
- ISO 17100 (arguably most importantly)
Translation Laws vs. Standards
While we mentioned one specific law in the introduction (the US’s regulation on translations of copyrighted materials) there are certainly other relevant regulations throughout the world:
- In China, all translation platforms must comply with robust data privacy regulations.
- In Spain, all translated legal documents must be reviewed by a “sworn translator.
- In Canada, federally regulated businesses must provide materials in English and French.
While translators comply with translation-related laws where applicable, individual standard publications are arguably more functionally impactful to translation projects.
These standards (maintained by industry-leading agencies) have three main purposes:
- They provide standardized, objective quality assurance metrics.
- They establish industry- or location-specific requirements and expectations.
- They educate new translators, providing a rubric for quality translation.
And, while there are countless translation standards out there, there are four standards in particular that dominate the industry. They are so widely recognized because of their longevity, oversight by authoritative agencies, and human touch to ensure context-appropriateness.
ASTM F2575-06 is the most recent edition of the agency’s Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation. This standard isn’t specifically tailored to one industry (like J2450)—translators can use the rubric for works in any field. F2575-06 is particularly focused on context.
It describes quality control measures for three specific translation project types:
- GILT – Globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) must account for cultural sensitivity, regional language nuances, and industry-specific lingo.
- Government translation – F2575-06 provides guidance for translators trying to present a uniform, consistent message to multiple locales at the same time—a function typically required by government-related projects.
- General translation – The standard’s general translation guidance is designed to guide everything that doesn’t fall into one of the two categories above. Some examples include letters, news, or academic journals.
Aside from ISO 17100 (see below), F2575 is perhaps the most widely applicable translation standard.
In practice, its considerations can be applied to nearly any translation project.
One of the four most prominent standards in the translation industry is SAE J2450.
This standard specifically guides translations of automotive service information, and there are a few key elements that set this metric apart from its counterparts:
- It’s a long-standing rubric; the first edition was published in 2005.
- The metric is applicable to all translation methods (e.g. human or machine translation).
- Translators can apply the standards regardless of the target or source language.
But, this standard does have one noteworthy shortcoming—it doesn’t stipulate attention to style. This matters a great deal, since style can have a major impact on voice and connotation, which in turn can have subtle yet important implications for the localization of a website.
Style elements include, but are not limited to:
- Using (or avoiding) the Oxford (i.e., serial) comma
- Capitalization of header text
- Source citations for long-form texts (like white papers or blog posts)
- Italicization of book, movie, or TV show titles
- Use of certain punctuation marks (like exclamation points, semicolons, and dashes)
- Formality and register of words and phrases
However, J2450 can be extrapolated to assess style; translators can use the general guidance provided to make sure that translated products are stylistically consistent with the original text.
DIN 2345 is one of the most prominent standards in the European translation market.
But it’s not limited to Europe. Translators around the world use it because of its unique emphasis on two of the most important elements across the translation industry:
- Functionality of the text – The standard stipulates that translators’ primary goal for every project should be functionality of the text—making sure it’s actually useful for its target audience.
- Translation project management – The two standards described above in this guide describe quality control elements for finished translation products; DIN 2345 describes the structure of projects. The standard provides contract guidance, roles for both translator and client, and standard operating procedures for translators.
It should be noted that Germany’s original DIN 2345, published in 1998, has since officially been withdrawn. Nonetheless, it and its concepts are still widely used and expected in many contexts in Europe. If your website targets European markets, it should definitely be a consideration.
Perhaps the most prominent and widely-adopted standard for translation is ISO 17100. It’s a robust standard that offers guidance for the entire industry, and it stipulates requirements for:
- Core processes – The procedures translators and Language Service Providers (LSPs) use to meet the client’s specifications
- Resources – The supporting materials and sources that translators use while they work on a project
- Other aspects – Attention to industry-specific codes, compliance with relevant laws, review of other industry standard best-practices guides, and many other elements of the translation field
ISO 17100 can be a crash course for new translators, a metric for translation projects, and a due diligence tool for clients (because, per the standard, translators using it must demonstrate how they conform and how compliance will impact the project’s success). It’s a strong foundation in the translation industry, and its criteria continue to support successful projects worldwide.
Put simply, ISO 17100 is he gold standard you should look for when vetting providers for your website translation or localization. Finding an ISO 17100-certified provider should be a priority.
Monitoring Compliance As You Translate Your Website
While the standards listed above are only a fraction of the metrics available to the translation industry, they’re some of the most well-known. But, if you’re a website translation client, how can you use these standards to your advantage to ensure a successful project outcome?
Here are some tips for maintaining standards compliance on your next project:
- Ask your translator about the standards they use – Human translators aren’t infallible; standards help them make critical decisions, structure projects, and protect all parties’ best interests. Ask them about the standards that guide their translation work.
- Look for certified translators – Most of the standards above offer certification options. if you’re particularly attracted to one standard (or if it’s relevant to your industry), look for a translator certified in it. And, if you’re not sure which, prioritize ISO 17100.
- Review the standards yourself – For a more complete understanding of these industry practices, consider reading the standards yourself before your next translation project.
Of course, the simplest way to learn about translation industry standards is to ask an expert translator. A highly-qualified professional (who will deliver quality results) should be able to describe the role of standards in their translation process.
Choose a Compliance-First Translator
As you can see, there are numerous translation quality standards out there—ASTM F2575-06, SAE J2450, DIN 2345, and ISO 17100 are just some of the most widely adopted.
Each standard is unique; collectively, alongside and often more so than laws, they inform all translation projects.
At LinguaLinx, we’re committed to upholding the quality standards that bolster our industry.
We consistently meet and exceed these performance benchmarks, and our ISO 17100 certification is just one example of our commitment to internationally-recognized quality standards. All of our translators are industry experts, and they have the qualifications and experience to translate and localize with integrity.
If you’re thinking about translating your website, we’d love to hear from you!
Continue Learning with These Helpful Articles:
- Learn More About ISO 17100
- Top Languages to Translate Your Website Into
- Human vs Machine Translation: Which is Best for Your Website?