The definition of “Quality” in translation services
The first thing anyone wants when paying for a service, no matter what it is, is quality. But when it comes to translation and interpretation, it might be hard to describe exactly what that is. You know you want a “good” translation, but what does it really mean? And what does it take to achieve it?
To start, the quality of a service will be defined by how closely it fits the needs of the client. This is probably the best criterion used to evaluate the result since there is always more than one right solution to any translation or interpretation problem. No matter what the source material is, there are often a million ways a translator can go about saying the same thing in another language.
That raises the question: what should you be looking for? Are there reliable indicators of quality or is quality something relative, even subjective?
Here are a few factors you should be looking for:
- Accuracy: This goes without saying, but no matter the project, the end result should be linguistically accurate, which means:
- Precise: the correct terminology is used, instead of other words that have been discarded as inadequate for the subject matter or for the tone of the document;
- Complete: the translation has no omissions; and
- Error-free: the translation includes no grammatical mistakes, typos, or formatting issues.
Translators (and interpreters) should have extensive knowledge of the foreign languages they work with as well an impeccable command of their own language – and the latter often makes a world of difference. The target text should reflect the meaning of the original with precision when it comes to terminology, nuances, and cultural context. Similarly, an interpreter cannot miss half the words or give an incomplete summary of the original speech.
- Efficiency: As a client, this means that providers must abide by a set deadline. While accuracy is crucial, that doesn’t mean translators should have the time to agonize over every single choice they make. Perfection is a laudable goal, but it is an aspiration. No matter what their teachers might have told them in school, and although spending hours on a short translation can be a good exercise, translators have to turn in a finished product within the deadlines. At some point, everyone has to let go of their doubts and hesitations and deliver to earn a living and make a profit.
Achieving a highly accurate result while remaining efficient is what all language specialists aspire to and takes a lot of experience and practice. This will make the difference between professionals and amateurs.
- Respect for your preferences: This is a tricky one. On the one hand, translators (and interpreters) might have their own opinion of what is accurate. On the other hand, the result has to be perfectly suited to you and your company, from the technical terminology and jargon that your employees will understand, to the public image you want to give off. In this regard, the client’s input is essential, and a good interpreter or translator will follow your terminology, glossary, and style guide.
- Ethics and confidentiality: In addition to the service they provide, translators and interpreters are bound by their profession’s codes of conduct. This is an essential part of their job and something you absolutely should demand of your service provider. Both translators and interpreters should also be honest with themselves and their clients as to whether or not they can translate from and into their working languages.
These various concerns might sometimes seem to conflict: if you decide you prefer a creative approach to the translation of your marketing material (such as with localization), the result will not be entirely faithful to the original, but will certainly fit the cultural context of your target audience better than a more literal approach. Always keeping in mind that linguistic skills are the most essential component and the greatest basis for success, the quality of a project will, in the end, depend on how well it fits its purpose.
What does it take to achieve quality?
The first and most important question when it comes to quality is whether or not language professionals are able to deliver. For translators, nothing can replace the expertise of a professional who translates into their native language. This is the best way to ensure they will be aware of the cultural context that surrounds it and can manipulate this language in a way that sounds natural while remaining accurate.
But how do you recognize a good translator/interpreter?
Although there is no single indicator of whether a translator or interpreter will be up to the task, there are signs that should inspire confidence:
- Degrees/diplomas: Having a degree in the field of interpreting or translation can be a good indicator of a serious professional. Just because someone claims to be bilingual or has a degree in a foreign language, it does not make them a translator or an interpreter – neither does a semester abroad. A diploma from a renowned institution shows that this person has qualifications.
- Experience: A degree is like a driver’s license – it may not mean much without at least some experience.
- Peer reviews: Some associations are recognized in the language industry, as their members have been recommended by their peers. If an interpreter is a member of AIIC (the International Association of Conference Interpreters) or TAALS (The American Association of Language Specialists), it means they have been vetted by other serious professionals and is a guarantee of quality.
- Certifications: They can be interesting if you’re looking for a linguist specializing in a particular field. Official certification–granting bodies can include the courts or medical institutions, for instance, and indicate someone’s proficiency in that particular domain. In general, if your linguist introduces themselves as a “certified translator” or a “certified interpreter”, it’s a good idea to ask your linguist what that means exactly and – especially – certified by whom. This will help you make the distinction between a poser and a true professional.
At Chang-Castillo and Associates, our dedication to quality comes from the fact that CCA is owned and managed by translators and interpreters who never compromise on quality. We only work with professional linguists whose skills have been vetted for. They are highly trained and are often members of internationally recognized organizations. We have chosen them for the quality they are able to consistently deliver so that you never have a bad surprise.
- Our teams of interpreters are made up of conference interpreters, not community interpreters, who will provide you with the highest level of service you can expect.
- And to ensure 100% quality of our translation services, we have a foolproof system involving 3 different linguists reviewing your project, so nothing escapes our attention.
If you need more information or want to get started with your interpretation or translation project, contact CCA online or give us a call at +1 (877) 708-0005. Impeccable quality is what made us the platinum standard of language services.