As we hit the halfway mark in this series of articles covering the basics on Ensuring Effective Translations, the next set of tips guide you through establishing a set of standards for working with your translation provider.
Two notable standards for translations are: the European translation standard (CEN EN 15038) and the American translation standard (ASTM F 2575). Although these were developed independently, they fit together well. They both provide a set of rules and guidelines for how to approach and build your translation. The standards provide a wealth of valuable information drawn from numerous experts with significant experience of the topic. The cover such areas as:
- The selection of people involved and how to assure the professional competency of translators and reviewers
- The requirements of quality management systems
- The need for effective project management
- How to manage the relationship with your translation service provider
- Processes and procedures you should implement for translating, checking, revision and review to ensure effective translations
- And the technical and linguistic aspects you should consider.
CEN EN 15038 also includes a series of Annexes providing further information on many of the detailed requirements.
As discussed already in this document, preparation is critical if you wish to receive an accurate translation. When purchasing any product or service it is essential that you have clear requirements defined that can be easily communicated to your chosen supplier. Typically, this would be called a specification. In the haste to deliver a translation quickly there is often a desire to cut corners at this stage and start translating before your requirements are fully thought out. This can be imprudent as this risks a greater degree of rework at the back of the process to sort out issues that weren’t considered properly in the first place. This often leads to greater time being required for the project. The adage ‘garbage in = garbage out’ is applicable here.
The Annexes in CEN EN 15038 list the typical contents of a specification and include:
- Source content and language
- Purpose of the translation
- Project registration/identification details and contacts
- Price and contractual terms
- Subject area and type of text
- Format (word processing file? XML?)
- Volume (how many words, characters, etc.)
- Target language and regional variation
- Key process steps to be followed and associated responsibilities
- Reference materials and style guides to be used
Once you have defined your specification, it is then important to share with key stakeholders, reviewers and your service provider to ensure they all understand and agree on the content. This will help reduce the number of queries or changes you get as the document goes through review cycles. Your target should be right first time.
In the next article we will look at the sixth step – Briefing your translation provider – How you instruct the translation provider to undertake the project you want translated.
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