We talk a lot about perfect translation quality here at Moravia. We have a different take than most. Namely, we believe that the quest for perfection is a quixotic one, a target that hidden in the mist of marketing mumbo jumbo leaves most clients and users in the dark about how imperfect human resources using evolving tools and working under ever-accelerating deadlines nevertheless produce content that gets the job done.
This is not to decry the need for quality assurance processes nor to assert that the only answer is to throw your hands up in the air in surrender. Not at all. Instead, it is to acknowledge that there are nevertheless process fundamentals that best bring us to content that is right for clients and their user bases.
There are, specifically, three overarching guidelines that make that possible:
In a two-part series on the latest developments in healthcare translation standards in Australia, one of the first things that we noted was the emphasis that project leaders placed in community engagement. Because they wanted to understand why underrepresented groups were reporting that they were bit well-served by existing healthcare translations, they placed them at the heart of the new process, working with them from current material review on to new material development.
This kind of involvement — where a sample of translation end recipients are pulled together in meetings, surveys, focus groups, forums and more — means that the resulting translations more accurately reflect their understanding of your products and services and how this can be best conveyed to your broader base of users in the target market.
Of course, the best results of such a user-driven process are better tools for your human and machine translation resources. That is, you will want to feed into both the right input to get the right output. This is more than a glossary of brand-appropriate terms, although these are important. These are guidelines to the tones and terms that are unique to these products and services in the target market. For example, for users in certain markets the literal word translation would be a misstep among a community that already regularly recognizes and uses the source word to describe the product or service.
If your translators, proofreaders, and quality assurance people are not being appropriately guided in this, they will go with something straight from a translation dictionary. The result? A translation that is both very right and very wrong.
QA every step of the way
Speaking of quality assurance, a note of differentiation is needed here. We are not talking about your project post mortem, in which the end translation is reviewed, graded, and satisfactorily filed away. We mean something else entirely here: namely, a dynamic and repeating cycle that serves to evaluate all parts from within each project and from without.
Real quality assurance means you are recruiting the right stakeholders to guide the content development (source and target). Real quality assurance means you are recruiting the right translators (especially in cases of specialized subjects). Real quality assurance also means the end evaluation, in which the final translation outcome meets the needs of users and clients as well as those who will take that same newly generated content into the next project cycle.
We may assert that the quest for “perfect” is foolhardy, but we must also embrace a process that brings us all to translation satisfaction. Yes, indeed, the devil is in the details: in how the right people are recruited, in how tools and guidelines are distributed, and in how to get everyone invested enough in quality assurance to make it happen. But, trust us, with at least these three overarching standards to guide you, you are at least on the right path to translation quality success.