How Translation Companies Assure Linguistic Quality in L10N

How Translation Companies Assure Linguistic Quality in L10N

How Translation Companies Assure Linguistic Quality in L10N 3600 2400 Sergio Guillén

Translation Companies Are Developing New Ways to Prevent Errors

Unless you happen to speak two languages, verifying the accuracy of any translated documents can be difficult. Plus, even if you are bilingual, you don’t have time to personally read all localized content before it goes online. Fortunately, the best translation companies will have a variety of quality controls in place.

What are the Benefits of a Translation Company?

SEO-expert Daniel Freedman writes in a Moz article that translation is the “secret sauce” for international success. You can have all the other factors in place to dominate sales in a foreign market. But you won’t sell any products or services unless you can speak the language of the locals.

And that means more than simply creating a message they understand. Instead, the translation company must provide what Freedman calls “cultural consulting.”

Cultural consulting means the translation is far more than literal. The message is translated for meaning and intent. The resulting new messages projects an understanding of the target audience.

While Machine Translation (MT) is more accurate than ever, it still has drawbacks. The American Translators Association says MT is insufficient at conveying nuance, emotion and cultural proficiency.

If your company is looking to expand internationally, MT isn’t enough. You’ll need to partner with qualified human translators.

How to Find the Best Translation Service

Not all translation companies offer the same type of service. If you have relatively simple, information-heavy documents, you can probably choose a service which prioritizes speed and low cost.

But if you need marketing or other creative messaging translated, you’ll want to choose a service with a solid understanding of your target audience within the new area. Professional translation services can help you modify your messages to help localize your brand.

Inc. Magazine recommends using a translation company which can provide location-based translations. For instance, the translation services needed for France will be different than what’s needed for China. If you operate in multiple regions, you want a service that understands the needs of each population. Translation isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.

How to Ensure Linguistic Quality

Human translators are capable of processes that machines can’t handle (at least, not yet). But humans are also prone to human error. Even the best translators make mistakes.

The best translation services will use quality controls to help prevent human error as much as possible. No system is perfect, but mistakes can be minimized through consistent “good quality” practices.

When we talk about quality, we’re discussing three separate ideas. The first is Translation Quality Assessment, which is a score reflecting the translated material’s accuracy and fluency.

Quality Assurance is the second metric. QA refers to systems which prevent and avoid errors throughout every stage of a translation job.

The two systems work together. QA focuses on preventing errors before the translation is finished. TQA focuses on a large picture of preventing future errors by reviewing past mistakes.

But there’s a third quality measurement that is often more important than the other two. It’s Linguistic Quality Assessment. LQA is an assessment of formatting, consistency, omission and untranslatable lines.

What’s an Acceptable Level of Quality?

Translation companies will typically use a combination of both MT and human translation for large-scale projects. The specific division of labor will depend on the material, turnaround time, and budget.

Obviously, human translators are preferred, but they’re slower and usually more expensive. So what translation services typically offer is machine translation when possible, with oversight from human experts.

In most cases, QA during translation is too time-consuming. So most quality checks are performed after the document has been translated. Two methods of analysis are used:

  • Sampling, which is the partial revision of key portions of the translation
  • Spot-checking, which is the partial revision of random sections

Generally, these QA checks will account for about 10 percent of the total text. While that’s accepted industry practice borne out of necessity, it’s still not very comprehensive.

Fortunately, machines aren’t just learning how to be better translators. They’re also improving their ability to check translated text for errors.

Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) software plays an increasingly important role in checking the quality of any translated text. These are tools that, among other things, help translators check for missing punctuation, glossary compliance, segment length inconsistencies, and much more. That’s right—they’re able to assess Linguistic Quality (the most important one, remember?).

CAT technology can be customized for each client. Customization helps your messaging retain a specific, consistent voice. This helps avoid the sometimes-robotic results of machine translation.

Ultimately, translation is about connecting with your intended audience. A translation company that uses consistent quality assurance practices will end up creating localized text that conveys your intended message clearly.

If you’d like to learn more, check out this white paper on how to increase engagement among your global customers.

Sergio Guillén

As the CEO of Accelingo, I believe in a globalized world where businesses flawlessly share their message across different cultures. I strive to empower startups to scale up globally and take over the world by providing compelling multilingual content that preserves their brand’s message and identity while increasing their reputation and visibility among global clients and partners. If you’re an ambitious startup hungry for international success, get in touch with me today and let’s find out how your startup can benefit from my expertise!

All stories by: Sergio Guillén