What is Quality Assurance in Translation Projects?
January 9, 2024
5 min read
Quality Assurance (QA) can mean different things in different industries. Sure, it’s always about maintaining checks and balances on quality outputs, but what does that mean? The term “quality” is a subjective one.
This minefield is only exacerbated in the translation industry by the fact that you, as the client, probably don’t know either a) the source content or b) what it looks like in translated form. You’re probably familiar with one language, but unlikely both. You have engaged the help of a translator, after all.
This is what we’ll explore in this article, so by the end of it, you’ll know what to look for in the QA process when you engage an LSP.
The QA Process
At a high level, the quality assurance process is pretty straightforward.
At each step of the process, a different pair of eyes checks the work done and helps the translated material maintain its authenticity to the original content.
Check 1 - Choose a Translator
There are a number of factors to take into account here. This is the backbone of the translation, so get this right and the chances are the process will be smooth.
The good news here is that you can understand why your translator is being chosen. Your LSP should be using translators with experience in both the native and target languages (obviously), but who also have a background in your industry. They need to know the meaning of what’s being translated, not just the words.
Check 2 – Let the Expert Translate
Time to leave it to the best person for the job.
Let them take the content and deliver it from one language to another, taking industry context, local nuances, and anything else relevant to the translation into account.
Check 3 – Edit the Translation
A second expert translator is brought on to review the translation. They’ll look at any grammatical issues, consider the localization aspects, and ensure the tone of voice is consistent with your brand.
Editors and translators may debate points and go back and forth until they reach a consensus on what’s best for the final translation.
This is where a graphic designer comes in and makes sure the new text fits in place of the old one (German can be 35% longer than English) and that visuals, like photography, are relevant for the target locale (in strict Muslim countries, you don’t want photos of women showing a lot of skin on your website).
Check 5 – Proofread the Translation
This isn’t done by the translator or the editor.
A third expert linguist is brought on to make sure there are no grammatical flaws in the final text.
This is one last cold look at translation before we hand it over to you.
Check 6 - Client Review
What do you think? We go back to the original problem that you probably only know one of the languages, but at least you know it’s been through five steps of QA filtration before landing on your desk.
You’ll still want to have a look, and maybe you’ll have some questions that need answering to make sure you’re satisfied. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, then this is where an amends loop takes place until you reach the point where you are totally satisfied.
One easy way to get a grip on the QA capabilities of your prospective LSP is to ask the big question:
A good LSP hangs their hat on QA and invites outside auditing so prospective clients don’t just have to take their word for it. If you're talking to an LSP about getting their help moving into new territories, just ask them about their process. See what checks they have in place.
How do they pick their translators? Do they use independent editors? Do they have DTP capabilities? Does a third linguist come on board to proofread? And finally, when you get to see it, how will they handle any queries you may have?
They should welcome the scrutiny. They should understand that it’s part of your QA for bringing a LSP on board.
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